After the last post on hiring VAs, I thought it’d be interesting to hear about outsourcing from a different perspective – directly from a virtual assistant! Specifically, I’m pleased to introduce you to our team member May.
May – a VA based in the Philippines – has been with us for more than three years and has been instrumental to the growth and success of our eCommerce sites. She is incredibly detail oriented, responsible, hard working, great with customers and very bright.
She has graciously agreed to share some details of her role on the team as well as answer your questions in the comments at the end of the post. Take it away, May!
Can you describe the responsibilities you’ve had while working on the team?
I was responsible in routing of orders, contacting warehouse representatives, responding to sales and customer inquiries, adding products on the website as well as updating their quantity/status, approving reviews and sending out tracking numbers. There are other tasks I was able to cover but these were the major ones.
What work and educational background did you have before becoming a VA?
Being a VA is my first job. I graduated on March 2009 with the Degree Bachelor in Journalism.
What are general Filipino impressions of US business and US employers?
Before I got into this job, some friend who are working in call centers say things like, Americans are bossy/authoritative and could be demanding at times. They can also become hot-tempered. But since the VA industry started to grow, I think that impression is no longer applicable as a “general” point-of-view. A lot of VAs I know, including myself, are fortunate to be working with good employers and clients.
What will Westerners never quite understand about the Philippines?
I think, it’s the fact that most Filipinos are quite sensitive. We get inspired with every kind word that we get, and could easily get affected with mistakes that we make and/or negative feedbacks that we get. Also, we value respect a lot. We give as much respect as we could and we expect to be respected in return.
What are general Filipino impressions of working as a VA?
Good paying. This, I think, is the general impression of Filipinos about this job. Also, others think that it is very easy when in fact, it’s not as easy as everyone thought it was. Being a VA requires skills and the enthusiasm to learn. Thinking outside the box and optimism is also needed.
What are some of the challenges of working as a virtual assistant?
My personal challenge is working on the night shift. Since I am based in the Philippines, I have to work at night, Philippine time (morning of US time). At first, I really struggled with this schedule, but eventually, I get used to it. It was also a challenge for me to use different softwares and programs which are somehow new to me, but I think, eventually, with continuous exposure, I’m getting used to them.
What are the benefits of the jobs and/or the best part(s)?
Aside from the undeniably good pay that I get from the job, personally, the best part of it is the chance to work with people having different nationality. It made me learn more about a different culture which led me to understanding them better. And on top of that, it’s really the new learnings that I got. Everyday, I get to learn something new, whether it’s on the technical side or the interpersonal communication aspect.
How does the compensation as a VA compare with other jobs / opportunities in your area?
It is way better. So much better that I am able to help my family in paying the bills and even got a chance to enroll myself to school while working as a VA at night.
What mistakes have you seen employers make when working with you and other VAs?
Some of the employers couldn’t afford but to be “rude” sometimes especially when they set too high expectations and the VA fail to reach them. I think, employers should also consider the VA’s skills when setting expectations so that VAs won’t be too pressured when working. Too much pressure can lead to stress and stress could lead to low-quality outputs that are not very acceptable. In the event that high expectations were set, there should be a step-by-step process to attain it and it shouldn’t be a one-stop-shot.
What small things can an employer do to make a VAs life (your life!) and/or job easier or more gratifying?
Being there to provide assistance when I need it is really a great thing. Also, when the client acknowledges our efforts, it also serves as a confidence-booster making us work harder and deliver better (if not the best) outputs.
How does working independently as a VA compare to working under a management firm? Do you like it more or less? Why?
I started working as a VA under a management firm and I initially found it as more organized and structured. The management was there to identify your strength as an employee and find a client for you that will fit your skills. It was also easier to deal with issues and concerns when you are under a company since the management and the technical people are there to assist you with whatever concern that you may have. One of the downside though is that, in my personal experience, VAs like me was not very well-compensated.
I found working as a VA independently more interesting, challenging, and a better venue to learn all these new things on my own. It also taught me to become resourceful and to maximize the use of the computer and the internet to deliver quality outputs. Aside from the fact that working independently gave me a better compensation, it also taught me to manage my time better. I also get to work at home which is a good thing since I no longer have to travel for at least an hour from our place to the office.
What advice would you give to someone getting started with a new VA?
After hiring a VA, it’s always good to put them under probation. This period will give you the chance to test the VAs capacity and reliability and at the same time, it’ll also give the VA a chance to know whether or not they can do the job in a long-term basis.
Be patient. New VAs could have a lot of questions but your answers can be of great help for them to get started in the job. Eventually, they’ll get used to it and be good in what they do, and they’ll recognize and appreciate how much help you gave them. Also, be clear with your expectations and goals. It’ll be a lot easier to work with someone who shares the same goal with you. Keep an open communication between you (the client) and the VA. That’ll contribute a lot to a smooth and long-tern working relationship between the two of you. And of course, respect from both ends.
You’ve recently cut back with your responsibilities with us as you’re pursuing some other goals. What’s ahead for you?
I am currently finishing my Educational Units and by early next year, I’ll be taking the Licensure Exam for Teachers. I am praying that I’ll pass the exam and hopefully, become a full-pledged teacher.
What Questions Do You Have for May?
May has graciously agreed to answer your questions about life as a VA! To ask a question, simply submit it as a comment below. Please keep your comments appropriate and not overly personal and May will do her best to answer them. Thanks May!
Photo by thewebprincess.