It’s interesting to see the number of blog posts written by people who have been seeking a Virtual Assistant and their experience and lack of success in doing so.
It concerns me that often they are looking in the wrong places simply because they might have read about the term via a book or another blog that hasn’t been well researched. A simple Google search will reveal many VA sites and also the professional VA networks – rather than freelancing sites where you can get quite a mixture of people offering all sorts of services. (It should be noted, that at the time I did the search linked above, there were three of the top professional VA networks listed on the first page and several links to blogs and other professional VAs on that first page. There were even more listed in the paid links.) The Wikipedia reference (also in that Google search) refers to the amount of experience required for people to become VAs.
The VA networks which offer VA searches or handle Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Jobleads usually screen their members and can assure the prospective client of professionals who will handle the job well. They are experienced in their particular skillset and always willing to learn new skills and advance their knowledge.
An argument was made that if someone engaged a ‘cheap’ virtual assistant (as opposed to a professional Virtual Assistant) they could spend time training up that va to do whatever was needed and yet we still see so many lamenting that they tried but the va didn’t stay with them, or it was a lost cause, or the work wasn’t to the standard they had hoped and so on.
Whilst it is unfortunate that many virtual or remote workers have elected to adopt the same term used by the industry, the fact remains that there will always be a wide gap between those who are professionally trained and experienced compared to those who have set up simply because they have a computer and some keyboarding skills. All we can do is to help educate the client as they start to explore our industry and continue to make ourselves readily available when they do make contact.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.