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Skills That Make for a Great Virtual Executive Assistant

Administrative work is shifting from a hands-on, in-person collaboration to a virtual, multi-tasking partnership. The remote model of support has morphed into a much larger role, further defining and raising the level of tasks and responsibilities. Executives have refined the roles and expectations that they require their virtual assistants to fulfill and many of them are on the ‘softer’ side of things.

Shifting Preferences

To ebb and flow in today’s dynamic professional world, it is important to consider both hard and soft skills.

Hard skills are a product of experience, training, and education. Hard skills are those required to perform a specific job. Mechanics know how to use a wrench and how to change a tire. Retailers know how to use a cash register and how to display their products. These skills are taught through schooling, training, and on-the-job experience.

Soft skills define who you are and how you conduct yourself. They incorporate years of experience, exposure, habits, and tendencies. These personality characteristics are less taught and are more culminated throughout life. You inherently know to be respectful to your elders or show up on time at work each day. These things are learned indirectly, through day to day processes, experiences, and even trial and error.

The shift to remote work has changed the way people perform together. It has also altered what qualities are important to executives as they reposition for a virtual workforce.

Breaking Down the Hard Stuff

When it comes to choosing a virtual assistant, executives have historically looked for hard skills that include:
  • Typing
  • Inputting data
  • Drafting letters
  • Calendar and travel management
  • Email management
  • Data entry
Some of the new hard skills that executive level management seeks extend from more of a creative and marketing level of criteria and include:
  • Online research
  • Website management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Blogging and social media upkeep
  • In-depth technical skills (to better support and coordinate a virtual environment)

With hard skills as the former go-to traits when considering a candidate for employment, executives and hiring managers are shifting their preferences in this new and remote business era.

The Softer Side of Things

2022 is seeing a shift in the sought-after skills for virtual administrative support. Initially being pushed to the wayside to assure that hard skills were intact, the softer skills are receiving more attention during the hiring process. Executives need self-starters that they can rely on and trust to get work done with little supervision.

Desired soft skills include:
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Flexibility
  • Resilience
  • Initiative
  • Originality
  • Discretion
  • Attention to detail
  • Prioritization
  • Phone etiquette
  • Self and stress management

Looking for these skills in a candidate as part of the hiring process assures an executive that they will get the level of professionalism and maturity they need for an employee to best manage themselves and their time remotely. If some hard skills are weak or lacking, they can be recuperated via on-the-job training and instruction. Soft skills aren’t as directly taught. They often start as a predisposition and take time and experience to fully develop.

Choose Your Traits Wisely

Whether you are an administrative assistant looking for an opportunity or a company looking to fill a gap in your support team, remember the importance of balancing hard and soft skills. Consider what can be taught and mentored versus what is engrained and established. Matching business culture with employee personalities, even remotely, leads to a well-founded working relationship.

 


 

Feel like the hunt for the best traits for your administrative staff is overwhelming? Consider relying on an outside provider to help in matching the qualities and characteristics you are looking for with people who can provide them. Download our eBook to learn more! 

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