Monday, 06 December 2021 09:59

Most Desired Skills Quadrant for Virtual Assistant (VA) Employability in 2022


A profession of a Virtual Assistant (VA) is no longer perceived as a typical secretarial work occupation outsourced to a helping hand. Employing a Virtual Assistant today demands the abilities and knowledge needed for each specific profession assigned tasks in almost every discipline – But most important for employers are specific skills taken from a mix of soft skills and hard skills. These are identified in the following few paras. 

More difficult these days are to find VA’s with a satisfactory level of soft skills. Especially where cost concerns lead employers to outsourced human resources, quality levels of soft skills diminish proportionately. On the other hand, Hard skills are quantifiable, teachable, and easier to validate.

The most concentrated need for soft skills is best developed organically. Generally, attributes such as adaptability, empathy, persistence, problem-solving, conflict resolution, collaboration, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking are the qualities hard to validate in resumes. Only in-depth interviews and references may vet somewhat, but as they say, the “Proof is in the pudding.”

Holistically speaking, just the right hybrid of soft skills and hard skills makes VA’s versatile and employable  – A well-suited hybrid skills serve clients or employers’ best in adaptability to their assigned tasks and custom needs. 

imageIn the chart, see how the most practical skill elements from the hybrid skills set are highlighted around it. These are the four most sought-after skills employers today, forming a Quadrant of Most Desirable Skills of 2021 for VA’s employability

The quadrant combines hard skills, such as performing effective and efficient “Online Search” along with knowledge of known “Research Methods” –  Add soft skills of “Critical Thinking” and knack for effective “Writing and Communication,” and you have a perfectly employable VA.

Every task delegated to a VA requires some Online Research skills these days. Online Research skills are fundamentally our ability to find answers to a question or discover solutions to a problem while using the Internet as a primary tool for research.

Research varies according to needs and purpose, stretching from information validation and quick fact-finding to data collection and performing in-depth research. However, Online Research skills may not be sufficient alone – unless VA’s are skilled to organize and transform information into a meaningful presentation for decision-makers and analysts, they most certainly will fall short of their expected deliverables. 

Overcoming a barrier to information transformation and transitioning to persuasive fact presentation Traditional Research Methods are required for VA employees. Research methods, including those covering art disciplines and science areas, are taught in formal education. Some research methods operate directly with information generated by the Internet.

Data collecting from virtual communities, focus groups, social experiments, and observations are some examples, and they all address the qualitative aspect of the research challenge. Similarly, a quantitative research method collects primary data using online surveys and short polls – it is, however, more typical for VAs to seek secondary data from the Internet due to its volume and simplicity of discovery – Secondary information sources come in a variety of digitized form and formats, such as news, articles, blogs, social media, and social groups, forums, and all types of e-publications.

Closing the gap further between hard and soft skills, VA’s must have a natural problem-solving ability with critical thinking – VA’s should understand and address situational complexities based on all available data and information collected. Typically, critical thinking soft skills help VA’s build structure for logical solutions in the decision-making process. It involves a systematic approach to filtering, processing, organizing, and connecting the dots in information flows to conclude.

Nothing in research delivers results without good communication skills in both verbal and non-verbal means. In presenting a well-researched work, VA’s must be active listeners, attentive observers, eloquent speakers, and influential report writers. 

In Conclusion

The potential role of a virtual assistant can take on many different forms, and it all depends on what kind of work is entrusted to them. No matter the nature of work, because research skills are crucial to employers, it is considered one of the most sought-after assets in hiring virtual assistants. Researching for information from the Internet has become a specialized skill that must be learned for employability. Yet without applying traditional research methods, one may leave a gap between research reliability and actionability –  and at times, entire research work may become counterproductive due to lack of it. A set of soft skills that exactly compliments hard skills of research in VA’s include their ability for critical thinking and problem-solving and strong skills in communication and writing. A quadrant of these most employable skills in hybrid skills-set is summarized in four bullet points.

  • Online Research Skills 
  • Research Methods
  • Critical Thinking, and
  • Communication and Writing

About the author: Mr. Manzoor is the CEO and founder of “Association of Internet Research Specialists” (AOFIRS). He is also the author of several books and educational publications on “Internet Research.” He actively contributes to the course development of “Certified Internet Research Specialist” (CIRS) and teaches online courses and training programs at the AOFIRS. Email to reach the author is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

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