7 Things to Avoid When Applying for a Virtual Assistant Job

This week it finally happened to me. I finally did the thing that I always used to preach to my clients before I started teaching VAs: I delegated a task in my own business to my own Virtual Assistant. *gasp!*

My business has been growing and changing so rapidly in the past six months in ways that I’m thrilled with and excited about, but that also at times leave me exhausted and overwhelmed.

I’d come to a head on a certain project and felt on the verge of tears because I just didn’t know where I would find the 2-3 hours to get this project done. It finally occurred to me that I could hire someone else to do it for me. “Practice what you preach!” #amiright? Delegating this task out freed up that time so that I could focus my own creative energy in my Zone of Genius and carry on writing the things that don’t stress me out so much. It was a HUGE relief! But I learned some things about the process of applying for a job as a side benefit, so I want to share with you some of the experience and offer tips on what to avoid when applying for a Virtual Assistant position.

I’m part of some larger Virtual Assistant groups on Facebook that I usually turn to for support in my VA role, but I figured they would be the perfect place to find someone to hire (and quickly). If you’re looking for short, simple, VA work, you can try keeping your eyes peeled in these three places:

  1. Your Virtual Assistant BFF
  2. Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board
  3. Virtual Assistant Jobs

Let’s get into it then!

7 Things to Avoid When Applying for a Virtual Assistant Job (and what to do instead):

1. Don’t ask to be notified “when” they hire someone else.

I understand that the intention here probably comes from the anxious feeling of not knowing when the hiring company has made a decision yet. Are they still considering you? Have they chosen someone and moved on? Should you still be spending your time waiting for this offer? I get it! I’ve been in that situation so many times and I know how much it absolutely sucks. But asking to be told when they’ve hired someone else – yes, worded like this – gives off the impression that you already assumed you weren’t going to get the job.

Do this instead: Send the employer a polite message asking when they think they expect to be making a hiring decision by, or when you might expect to hear from them about the position. Asking this way indicates that you are clearly interested in the position, and still lets them know that you don’t want to be dangled around on a string. You accomplish the same goal without eliminating yourself from the pool of candidates.

2. Don’t give a “politician’s” answer that suits your needs and not the company’s.

Have you ever watched political debates on TV? You know how when the moderator asks a question and then the politician seems to start talking about something completely unrelated? That’s a political trick done to ensure the politician gets their message out no matter what direction the debate turns. This is a terrible way to approach a job listing. Yes, you have great skills and services, but please pay attention to what the job description is.

Do this instead: Make sure you carefully read the listing and answer exactly what they asked for. If they asked for social media image templates, then show them some of the beautiful templates you’ve created and why your style would be so great for their company. This will show the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in the position they’re offering and that you took the time to read what they wrote. It’s simple, but you wouldn’t believe how many irrelevant messages come through.

3. Don’t undervalue your services or offer them for free – even if you’re just starting.  

It makes the seeker wary of whether you will perform high quality work. On the same note, don’t try to grab them with a discount right away. Like, “Normally I offer this service for $X.oo, but I’d like to offer it to you for $X.oo.” They will only be confused as to why you want to offer them such a steep discount when you’ve never even worked together. This also sets you up for being taken advantage of. There’s no reason to offer your services for less than they’re worth.

Do this instead: Either set an hourly rate that you’re comfortable offering and stick to it or create a couple of packages to offer as options. By setting an hourly rate and standing by it you’ll weed out any low quality clients who won’t value you or your services anyway. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of not giving the person options, then create a couple of packages to offer them instead.

Tip: Be very clear on what’s included in your packages and don’t let them slip in extra services for free.

4. Don’t apply so quickly that you fail to check out the company’s website a little bit before you hit send.

If the language you use when asking for the job is way off-point for the company, they may not trust you to create content for them. Are they corporate? Don’t send a quirky cover letter. Are they a heart-based entrepreneur? Don’t come off as overly stuffy and corporate!

Do this instead: Spend 5 minutes on the company’s website getting to know their vibe. Read the About section and try to get a good feel for the personality of the entrepreneur you’ll be working for. Then when you write your response to their posting, try to match their style. This is an especially valuable skill to master if you’re a copywriter! Remain professional at all times, but remember that professional doesn’t always equal corporate.

5. Don’t ignore specific requests made by the job poster.

Did they ask for your service rates in their listing? Be sure to include how much you would charge for that project! The hiring manager doesn’t want to waste their time asking you things more than once. If they asked in the listing, and you give a vague response like, “Let me know if you still need my rates,” or just omit them entirely – they are likely to write you off.

Remember that you won’t be the only person applying to for these tasks and think about it this way:

Person A responds: “Hi Jaime-Lyn. I am interested in your research project. Here is my website: www.joyandcoffee.com. You can look at what services I offer if you want. Let me know if you still need my rates.”

Person B responds: “Hi Jamie-Lynn. I saw your listing on Cafe VA looking for a research assistant on a short task. I’m very interested in the position and have a background doing these types of projects for my clients. I was a history student, so I totally love getting knee-deep in research. For a 3-4 hour project like this I would charge $60. Please let me know if you have any questions for me. I look forward to hearing from you.”

If the hiring manager has 25 applicants (or more!) to wade through, which person do you suppose they’re more likely to choose? Probably Person B. Be like Person B 😉

6. Don’t misspell someone’s name when typing them a greeting.

See the responses in #5 again… As someone with a fairly lengthy first name, nothing annoys me more than when someone is too lazy to look at it right on their screen (or heck, even use the copy/paste feature! This is 2017, folks). There’s no excuse for that kind of error.

Do this instead: If using a person’s name in your greeting, make sure you take 10 extra seconds to double check and make sure you spell it properly. Plain and simple.

7. Don’t send a message littered with typos.

It gives the impression that you’re so careless, you couldn’t even be bothered to spell check your job application. And if you’re careless enough to be making typos when you apply for a position, how can the hiring manager trust that your work won’t be littered with them? They are hiring you for a reason: They are short on time. They don’t want to get a 5 page document back from you that they need to spend another hour spell checking. Sure, we’re all human and bound to make typos here and there – but a job application is NOT the place for it.

Do this instead: Type your response in a Word/Google document instead of straight into Facebook (or wherever you see the listing). Then check it for errors in spelling, grammar, and even phrases that you wrote out so fast they don’t even make sense. Once you’re satisfied that your response is error free copy and paste it into the email or messaging system you’re using to contact the the company. This will help you avoid any embarrassing mistakes that might make you appear incompetent.

There you have it! Remember that even though the hiring process for online jobs between entrepreneurs is usually pretty informal, it’s still a job interview!

Would you send a cover letter with 10 typos in it, addressed to ‘Byron’ when it’s supposed to be “Bryan,” and then (assuming you even GET one) give vague answers in your interview that make the employer play 20 Questions with you? Um… I think not. So be sure to avoid these mistakes online as well.

If you’re applying for jobs as a Virtual Assistant, try to keep these things in mind so that you can set yourself apart from the crowd. Lots of people will be applying for the same jobs on boards like the ones I found my VA on (I had 22 applicants in about 12 hours), so it’s important not to unnecessarily eliminate yourself by making one of these mistakes. To join in the discussion this week about this topic, come join us in Cafe VA and share what you found useful here, or offer any other tips you might have that set you up for success in getting hired as a Virtual Assistant!

And if you’ve ever hired a Virtual Assistant for your business, sound off in the comments: What would you add to this list?

 

 

Avoid these 7 things when applying to Virtual Assistant jobs and what you should do instead to make yourself stand out among the pool of applicants!

Comments

  1. Great tips!! I am going to check out these sites, because I am looking to work from home more!

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