As any military spouse knows, the unique demands of military family life can sometimes make it difficult to land a job that travels with you. But, remote work has been on the rise since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An in-depth look at major employment websites lists many vacancies advertised as remote or virtual positions. One growing field is virtual assistance.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants are remote administrative contractors, according to Indeed. Remote workers in this role typically help with office management duties, but they can also take on a variety of other roles, like marketing, customer service, social media management and event coordination.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
- Managing emails
- Handling inbound and outbound calls
- Sending invoices and contracts and following-up as necessary
- Providing administrative support
- Coordinating meetings, conference calls and other events
- Maintaining a detailed calendar and contact lists
- Interacting professionally with senior level business leaders
- Preparing correspondence, social media posts, internal and external communication
For specialized fields such as the medical field, virtual assistant duties may also include:
- Coordinating patient care with labs and medical facilities
- Reviewing medical reports with appropriate providers
Skills You Need To Become A Virtual Assistant
Due to the remote nature of virtual assistant work, employers are looking for disciplined self-starters they can trust to work with limited supervision.
Some universal skill requirements include:
- Strong communication
- Attention to detail
- Proactive approach to daily tasks and problem solving
- High degree of integrity, professionalism and diplomacy
Employers also want candidates for virtual positions to have reliable internet and phone connectivity, with access to necessary office equipment like a printer and scanner.
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Make?
Estimates for virtual assistant salaries vary across sites like Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter and Indeed. Around $37,000 to $67,000 seems to be a realistic range, with about $54,000 being the average across employment sites.
Why Virtual Assistant Work Can Be Ideal For Military Spouses
Military spouses are excellent candidates for virtual jobs because of the many strengths the military lifestyle cultivates: adaptability, organization, self-discipline and ability to take on new challenges.
Frequent moves mean that military spouses know what it means to work on-the-go and hit the ground running in a new environment. Military spouses keep households running when their service members are away, and work as well alone as they do with a team.
“Military spouses are a population that is often overlooked, and unfortunately, have one of the highest unemployment and underemployment percentages compared to civilian spouses,” said Chryssy Johnson, a military veteran spouse and human resources talent strategist based in San Antonio.
“Working remotely requires connectivity and the ability to stay engaged to balance the demands and responsibilities of work,” Johnson said. “However, employers who take advantage of this highly committed workforce should allow flexibility with remote work and opportunities. The spouses follow their service members throughout their careers. The military spouse’s career should follow them.”
Steps To Becoming A Virtual Assistant
- See what’s out there.
Check for virtual assistant jobs on any website where you’d normally browse, like LinkedIn or Indeed. Many of these positions are hourly contract roles, so check out freelance websites like Upwork and FlexJobs. Military One Source Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) offers military spouses a free one-year FlexJobs membership.
- Take stock of the work requirements and write your resume accordingly.
These days, large companies sort resumes using computer programs. If your experience matches the requirements, make sure you word it in your resume to match keywords in your employer’s advertisement.
- Write a cover letter.
Again, assume a computer will read this before a human does. Make sure you hit the high points of what the employer said they’re looking for in the text of your cover letter.
- Get a second set of eyes on your resume and cover letter.
Visit your installation’s Military and Family Support Center to speak with a spouse employment readiness specialist. These specialists can review your resume to improve your chances at landing the job you want. Family support centers also frequently host workshops and career fairs you might want to check out.
- Apply to the job.
Some sites, like LinkedIn or Indeed will allow you to apply on their website, making the process easy. Others may ask you to apply on their own website or by email.
- Keep an eye on your phone and email.
You’re applying for a position that will require you to be available by phone and email, so you don’t want to leave your potential employer waiting if they reach out for an interview. Check your voicemail and your junk mail folder to make sure any filter applications on your phone or email haven’t accidentally blocked important correspondence. Remember that employers take time to review applications, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. If you don’t, hear back after a week or so, consider following up with an email. Thank the employer for the opportunity to apply, express your continued interest in the position and why you believe you’re the right fit. Then, ask if the employer has any more questions for you.
Here’s an example:
Good morning Mr. Doe,
I just wanted to reach out to thank you for the opportunity to apply to work as a virtual assistant at your company. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I believe my previous project management experience makes me a great fit for the role. If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I look forward to chatting with you!
- Prepare for the interview.
This will likely be a remote interview over Zoom or another video chat program. Pick out a good, well-lit spot in your home that is free of noise or distractions.
If you’re feeling nervous, consult an employment readiness specialist at your local military family support center for some pointers and coaching before the interview. You can also reach out on eMentor for tips from veterans and military spouses who may have interviewed for similar positions before.
- Send a thank-you note.
Within three days of your interview, send the interviewer a thank-you note over email. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to apply, express something from the interview conversation or the job description that makes you excited about working for them and tell them you look forward to chatting again soon.
Here’s an example:
Good afternoon Mr. Doe,
I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to interview for the virtual assistant position at your company. I really enjoyed learning about your company’s operational tempo. Fast-paced environments like J. Doe Enterprises are so exciting to me. I believe my organizational skills and experience working on tight deadlines could make me a great fit for your team. If you have any further questions for me, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I look forward to chatting with you again soon!
- Don’t get discouraged.
If the first opportunity doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged. Keep applying! If you’re comfortable with it, reach out to the employer and ask why you weren’t chosen or how you could make your application better. Even if it never works out with that employer, you can use their feedback to craft your application for another position somewhere else. Work with the employment specialists at your base’s military family support center to incorporate the feedback on your next application.
Other Remote Work Opportunities for Military Spouses
If becoming a virtual assistant isn’t right for you, don’t give up. Diverse remote work opportunities exist in today’s tight labor market.
Some remote positions include sales and customer service specialists, loan specialists and officers, programmers, IT specialists, content writers, tutors and even counselors and nurse practitioners.
Salaries for virtual jobs depend on your location and what roles you decide to take on. Customer service jobs start out in the range of $16 an hour, according to Zip Recruiter. That’s slightly less than Zip Recruiter’s average for all remote positions: $32 per hour.
Keep your LinkedIn and other job searching profiles up to date and set up alerts for job advertisements for remote positions you might be interested in.