My last post about hiring a virtual assistant has proved to be one of my most popular, so I decided to revisit the topic from the other side of the coin. If you’re an aspiring virtual assistant, you know the competition is fierce. There are tens of thousands of people competing for the same jobs, and it might seem like a race to the bottom.
Here are a few tips that will help your application and cover letter stand out from the pack, so you can go from an aspiring virtual assistant to a hired virtual assistant.
Use proper grammar and spelling
Your cover letter is the first (and possibly only) impression you’ll be able to make. As a consequence, you have to make sure you’re making a great impression from the start. Your first step is to use proper grammar and spelling.
This applies equally to native English speakers and non-native speakers. Surprisingly (or, perhaps, disappointingly) in my experience the number of errors was about the same between native and non-native speakers. When there are grammar and spell checkers available online, as well as easy access to dedicated proofreaders, there’s really no excuse for these mistakes in any of your communications.
At the same time, don’t misrepresent yourself as being better at English than you actually are! Be sure to write a disclaimer, if necessary, but emphasize that you are working hard to learn and be more accurate.
Read the entire job description
In my post about hiring a virtual assistant, I described a tactic I use to weed out cover letters by asking a simple, unrelated question such as “what is your favorite food?” or “what’s your dream travel destination?” I’m not at all concerned with the actual answer; this is really just a test to see who is reading the full job description.
It can be hard, particularly when you’re applying en masse on sites like Elance, to give total attention to each job listing. Still, it’s absolutely critical that you do. Being able to directly and personally respond to your potential employer’s application will show that you care, and have an attention to detail.
Share examples of your work
Show your potential employer that you are actually good at what you do with examples. Whether it’s a spreadsheet you prepared for a client, a blog post you wrote, or some research you completed, there are always ways you can share your skills (with your past client’s permission, of course).
What do you do if you’ve never worked with a client before? Simple: pick a topic and create some material! Suppose you love fishing. You could prepare some research detailing different types of fishing rods and reels. Write a blog post for your personal website about fishing locations in your area. Put together a spreadsheet showcasing different types of fish you’ve caught. These samples will show you have initiative, even without a client, and they showcase your proficiency and skill with basic computer technology.
Bonus tip: Be prompt and reply quickly!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messaged a virtual assistant on Elance and either waited 2–3 days for a reply or not received any reply! If you apply for a job, you need to stay glued to your email and make sure you quickly respond to any questions from your potential employer. After all, if you can’t even reply to a message within one business day, why would a potential employer trust you to handle important work? Quick responses are essential for virtual assistants, and even waiting two or three days to reply could seal your fate.
These tips can’t guarantee you’ll get hired as a virtual assistant, but they can help move you to the top of the list. Do you have your own tips or questions about the ones I’ve shared? Post in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to reply.