A virtual assistant, as the word implies, is someone that works remotely for clients or small business teams. These clients can come from anywhere around the world. The work may involve administrative assistance or creative projects designed to market a business online. For the novice virtual assistant, VA for short, the challenges in making this career switch may be hard in the beginning simply because they are working directly with a foreign client. Thanks to those who are already in this field and have overcome the challenges, the aspiring VA now has something to learn from.
Break it to me gently
Filipinos are often seen as unexpressive and timid, or just a way to describe a “mild-mannered” personality. However, foreigners are straightforward in expressing what they want to accomplish in each task, most often harboring on intimidation that the shy Filipino virtual assistant may see as a reason to feel inferior. Cultural difference is obviously at play; if any, the expression “walang personalan, trabaho lang” would very much apply in this case.
Language barrier makes it hard for the Filipino VA and client to speak in the same language especially during a job interview where both assess each other whether a good working match exists. Fortunately, not all clients are strict in looking for a VA with natural English fluency, but it does count. The trick is not to try too hard to sound like the client but instead stick to basic sentence construction and say it as you mean it. Being too conscious in speaking fluently in the same “slang” will just make it hard to communicate. And if there is something in what the client said that remains unclear, simply asking to “explain it further” will very much solve any misunderstanding.
Day or night, night or day?
Working in a different time zone is one of the challenges of a Filipino VA; it takes time to adjust in the change of body clock especially when working in the wee hours of the morning. In as much as the VA now control his time since he works at home, the much-needed rest period may no longer be as conducive as people around the house are running around and there may be other “day” chores to attend to. It’s important to learn time management well so as not to risk failing health.
VAs, sooner or later, may be forced to independently apply for jobs to get better pay than work under a VA agency for just a slice of the appropriate pay; this is very true for some writers and designers. But truth be told that there are more scammers online than there are legit clients, VAs just have to learn to know the difference.
Dollar up, dollar down
For the Filipino virtual assistant every cent counts; cents when combined together produce a dollar. VAs remain at the mercy of the dollar-peso exchange rate. If the peso is too strong they get less for every dollar and more if the peso is weak. Yet as a Filipino you never want to wish your dollar to stay weak as this is not a good economic indicator. Regulating the VA rate for it to adjust automatically to any exchange rate is yet to be discussed and considered by the leaders of this industry in the country. In the meantime learn to reduce your cost of business operations as a VA in order to get more for your buck.