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Virtual Heroes: The Growth of the Virtual Assistant
Building and expanding a business is a difficult task, when the management of the business in its existing form takes up much of the time. The administrative, office-based and creative tasks behind running a business, although time-consuming and often repetitive, are vital to the continued operations of the business. With the explosion of opportunities on the Internet, and moves towards a global economy, an extensive range of businesses is finding that they can greatly benefit from the help of a Virtual Assistant.
Definition of a Virtual Assistant
Virtual Assistants (VAs) are independent, trained professionals who provide support in terms of administrative, office, creative, technical, managerial and personal. Their skills and talents can be focused on carrying out various important daily and weekly tasks for clients, working on projects or campaigns, or even as far as becoming vital partners in the running and operations of companies. VAs work on a contract basis and from their own premises, using the very latest in electronic and advanced methods of communication, allowing them to cross geographical boundaries without issue.
The Skills and Services of the VA
VAs' are professionals who have been trained and gained experience in areas, roles and companies that are directly related to, or expressed in the services that they offer. Their skills cover a large range of office-based activities, including secretarial, administrative, creative, marketing, research, organisational, book-keeping and accounting, and specialist secretarial services for legal and medical firms. Tasks that a VA will carry out include word processing, audio typing, proof-reading, article and newsletter writing, spreadsheet & database management, diary management, events organising, travel arrangements, Internet research, web design and marketing campaigns.
Conveniences to the Client
The need for, and convenience of VAs is growing rapidly, with small and medium sized businesses looking to outsource more and more of their tasks, for various reasons. They are ideal for clients who are not in a position to afford a new staff member, or looking to engage in one-off projects over fixed time scales where a new and permanent member of staff would be expensive and impractical. The client also benefits from not having to worry about employee benefits, holiday and sick pay, pensions, space, equipment and other items related to permanent members of staff.
Geographical Coverage of the VA
VAs enjoy and offer the benefit of being relatively unrestricted geographically. Clients have been known to utilise services of VAs located several miles from them, even in different countries. Electronic mail, fax, telephone and the Internet allows for assignments and projects to be completed between the client and the VA, without suffering issues that can occur with being unable to meet, differences in time zones and excessive amounts of paperwork.
Growth of Virtual Business Opportunities
The world of the Virtual business is growing and expanding into other areas of business. At one time, the virtual world was used as a support tool for the other business operations that took place in the physical world, but recently there has been a sharp increase in companies who are choosing to operate the majority of their business online. Examples of business types that are maintaining a solely online presence are Law Firms, Managers, PAs, Market Researchers, Auditors, Florists, Journalists and Real Estate firms. This list is by no means exhaustive, and is rapidly growing.
'Virtual Assistant' is still a relatively new term in the business world, but the profession is taking shape rapidly. More and more businesses are realising the benefits of using a VA, and appreciate the advantages of being able to delegate tasks out to an individual who is already trained and experienced, flexible, and will only charge for the work done and time taken. With so many skilled and varied Virtual Assistant services out there, finding one to match your business should be a piece of cake!
Michelle Payne-Gale, owner of Essence Business & Admin Support Services, specialises in Virtual administration, Marketing, & creative support for start-ups and growing businesses. Additional articles are available at: http://www.essence-services.co.uk. View the Essence blog at http://essence05.blogspot.com. She is also an active partner in the creation of a new Caribbean tourism website, http://www.stay-in-antigua.com.
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10 Things to Do to Get the Job
10. Understand all of the opportunities available to you. Don't just assume that you can only work at the standard place of employment for your area of study. The key to finding a great career is to think outside of the box. Don't get caught being narrow-minded when considering where to apply your skills and energy. Every firm needs accountants, project managers, sales people, etc. 9. Get to know a successful person. Your dad's friend doesn't count if he doesn't know you. You must be able to find someone that has had decent success in any field and become their new friend. The tendency for those that are mentored to go much farther in their career is significant. You can take the world on all by yourself or you can benefit from the experience and wisdom of others. Mentors can make all the difference at every stage of your career. 8. Learn to sell yourself. You have a lot more to offer than you may think. Whether your history is full of experience or education, you are bringing unique qualities to a company. You must learn to express your skills in a succinct and convincing manner. It may feel like boasting at first, but your ability to sell yourself will help you tremendously. 7. Network in professional associations. If you really want to make an impression, meet people that already work in your industry. Volunteer with them for projects and get to know them. Building a relationship is the fastest way into a company. Learn what they do and what you should do to get ahead in the field or at a particular company. These people are there to make friends and network as well. Don't be shy about your professional ambitions and you will get very far. 6. Network inside the company. If you want to ensure your role at a company then you need to get to know several people in the company. No matter what you may be applying for, you will be competing with others to make an impression with people. The fact is that people love to work with those that they trust and like. If you can make a good impression with multiple people inside a company, you have a built-in competitive advantage when deciding to hire you or another qualified candidate. Use professional organizations to meet company employees if you can. For the more direct route, try contacting a manager in the department you want to work in to meet and ask questions. If you are personable, you will probably not have any problems getting to know a few people inside a company. 5. Bring something to your job. Just like JFK said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." If you have done your homework, you know what the company is doing now, where it is going, and what issues that your department is facing or will have to deal with in the future. Talk about what you can do in the interview and with as many managers as you can. Sure you are going to be told what to do, but never underestimate the impact of taking on extra responsibility. You may not be applying for a management position, but this could help you get there. 4. Get your résumé to the best people. There are several strategies for marketing yourself to the decision makers in a company. Whatever your method may be, it is crucial that you get your résumé to the highest-ranking managers possible. If you can impress an executive with a great résumé, you will find your path through the company door wide open. If an executive passes along your résumé or just mentions that they received your résumé to a hiring manager, you are going to get serious bonus points. The desire to please is prevalent at many larger companies, so any chance you can take advantage of to get your name dropped (or recognized) by top management is a great. 3. Do your homework. You have heard this all of your school career, but it is even more important in the your career search. You can easily blow a great job opportunity by not knowing enough information about the company. Be sure to read industry news and trends to have a better perspective on the challenges and opportunities the company is facing. Read the company's website thoroughly. There is so much information readily available, including key personnel's names, positions, and contact info. Take advantage of this information and any other knowledge you can attain from the multitude of sources available. 2. Hit the pavement. Don't be afraid to show up at the company you want to work for. Nobody can sell yourself like you can. Even if the company isn't advertising a position, they are almost always looking for great employees to hire. The information age has nearly eliminated the need for face-to-face contact, which is why it is so effective now. If you meet the people that you want to work for then you are demonstrating your commitment and confidence in yourself. The younger generation of job seekers have forgotten the importance of personal relationships in business, leaving many talented people wondering why they aren't being hired. Get out there and show that there is a person behind the résumé. 1. Ask for the job you want. If you bring quality skills and/or experience to the table, let it be known. If the open position won't challenge you enough, find ways to add responsibility. Tell interviewers that you want to make a difference at their company. Confidence in one's ability is key to landing great jobs. If the decision maker can see that you have a lot to offer and are willing to work harder than current employees, there is no decision; you are hired!
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Tips for Building a Successful Career
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REJECTION IN THE JOB SEARCH
Searching for a Federal Job
Many years ago searching for a federal job was a long, complicated and drawn out process. Today, it has been become far less complex and is now just a three-step process. Finding a federal job used to be accomplished through postings in a government office branch and sometimes in libraries. Today, finding an opening can be done right on the Internet. There is a web site that lists federal jobs also lists many state, local and even private business positions. Many of the federal, state and local jobs can be applied for right online. If a position requires a resume, individuals can take advantage of online resume development and transmission.
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With the opening of a new venture and numerous reporters arriving in an hour, it felt like one of those "chickens with heads off" days. We were close, but not ready. So like locusts to a wheat field, a swarm of people were devouring the last minute details. Then, it rained. With rain, came worms, hundreds washing onto the entrance sidewalk. When I returned to the area, I found a manager, several department supervisors and a director outside with brooms, sweeping up worms. No one asked them to sweep worms. But, with guests arriving shortly and no one else available, they found brooms and started sweeping.
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Benefits of Maintaining a Career Portfolio
Have you ever tried to contact a past employer only to discover they are no longer in existence or your former manager has moved on and been replaced by someone else? Of course, if you are an avid networker this shouldn't be much of a problem when it comes time to provide proof of your experience, education and accomplishments. A portfolio of your career should be developed and maintained using all documentation of your career history in order to overcome any problems that could arise in proving any aspects of your career. It should also include your most up-to-date resume which will be based on the contents of your portfolio. Include documents pertaining to your education including continuing education such as diplomas and certifications. Have any of your past managers sent memos or emails to you or your colleagues mentioning any of your accomplishments? Were your accomplishments published in the company newsletter, local newspaper or a trade magazine? Annual reviews, award certificates, and documents or articles recognizing your contributions to projects and/or business growth are proof of your accomplishments and major contributions. Be sure to clip the articles, print the emails, save the memos and add them to your portfolio. Document volunteer experience you have gained. Although you didn't receive compensation from volunteer experience, you gained some kind of experience and maybe even recognition for your efforts. Were you able to help an organization overcome a major hurdle that hampered their mission? Did you provide assistance to the members of an organization? Were you instrumental in developing new marketing methods to spread news about the mission? Were you instrumental in the expansion of the organization? Anything that can document your career history could prove to be valuable in your career advancement or job search. In the event you are unable to make contact with a former manager or provide up-to-date contact information to a potential employer, your career portfolio could serve as a means of proving your value to the potential employer. Don't take your career lightly. Document your career and maintain your portfolio. Your children and children's children will also thank you in years to come because they will have proof of your accomplishments and the mark you made in history, too.
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