How To Hire A Virtual Assistant: A Guide

Virtual assistants are the talk of the town. Everyone’s hiring a virtual assistant for tasks you wouldn’t have thought could be delegated. But if you’re still new to the concept, here’s a brief of who a virtual assistant is –

A virtual assistant is an individual who works remotely and whose main job is to provide support and assistance to clients. This support often involves providing research, writing, computer programming, technical support, data entry, etc.

So, if you are serious about growing your business, it is time to consider getting some help from someone who can do the non-essential tasks for you. A virtual assistant (VA) can take care of everything from taking care of your emails to researching and implementing new marketing strategies for you.

But when and how do you hire a virtual assistant for your business? 

When Should You Hire A Virtual Assistant?

There’s no right or wrong time to hire a virtual assistant. It all depends on your type of business and your requirements. Hire a virtual assistant when:

  • You need more time for your business or yourself. If you have many clients and projects, a virtual assistant can relieve some of the burdens by taking care of the administrative tasks so you can focus on growing your business.
  • You want to get professional results. Since VAs operate remotely, you are not limited to your city or even country while hiring them. You can hire the best talent available globally.
  • You want to get work done but don’t want to hire employees. Employees require benefits, payroll taxes, insurance, etc. Which, in turn, will eat up a big chunk of your profit. However, since VAs are not employees, you save on these expenditures.
  • You want more skills in your organisation. VAs can often access and use skills and resources that you don’t have.

Technically, you’d want to hire a virtual assistant when you want any of these two tasks done for you – 

General and administrative tasks like – 

  • Email management,
  • Bookkeeping,
  • Paying bills,
  • Creating invoices,
  • Writing orders,
  • Shipping packages, or
  • Keeping track of customer payments, etc. 

Specialised tasks like – 

  • Researching markets,
  • Optimising websites,
  • Creating sales pitches,
  • Writing copy for marketing campaigns,
  • Managing social accounts, etc.

Once you have decided what you want to delegate to a virtual assistant, the next step is to find, select, and hire a good virtual assistant to make your life easier.

How To Find, Select, And Hire A Virtual Assistant?

Finding a virtual assistant is not rocket science. However, it does require a modicum of effort. So, here’s how you do it.

  1. Determine what work do you want to get done and how important it is for you
  2. Develop a job description
  3. Select good platforms to hire virtual assistants
  4. Post the job
  5. Review applications and schedule interviews
  6. Hire after they pass your test task

Before You Hire – Be Clear About Expectations

The virtual assistant market is similar to the Amazon marketplace. There are numerous sellers who sell innumerable services that you can choose from. But just like you do with Amazon, you need to be clear about your expectations – what you need, how much you need, and when you want it delivered.

Answer these few questions before you start looking for a virtual assistant: 

  1. What Do I Want My Virtual Assistant To Do?
  2. How much would I gain delegating this task? Would I gain monetarily, or would it free up time to do other more important things?
  3. How much time do I take to complete this task?

If you cannot give precise answers to these questions, you will be floundering around blindly and may end up hiring the wrong person. So, take some time to think about these questions and only then start your search.

Develop A Job Description

Once you’re sure of what work do you want to be done, write a job description. This job description should contain the following details:

  • Job overview: What is the scope of this project? What will the VA do? What are the tasks will they perform? What are the payment terms, and how will they get paid? This section will include an overview of every aspect of the job.
  • Duties and responsibilities: This section will elaborate on what the virtual assistant will do on your behalf. Will they be an email administrator, a bookkeeper, an invoice creator, a copywriter, a marketer, or whatever else you need them to do. Also, define the outcome you expect – what results do you want to achieve. For example, the VA should develop a good social media strategy if you want more followers on your Instagram account. If you want a particular result, then make sure it is defined here. 
  • Job requirements: You need to specify the skills and attributes you are looking for in a virtual assistant. Make sure you include the following details – What educational background does the VA need to have? What are the degrees and certifications they need to possess? Is a college degree required? What are the specific skills and abilities you are looking?

Decide On Your Budget

Search for virtual assistant rates on Google, and you’ll see the rates to go from as low as $3 per hour to as high as $100 per hour for the same job. The huge disparity can be logically and mathematically explained. The cost of a virtual assistant depends on so many variables, including the level of experience and skillsets of the particular assistant you’re working with. Pay more, and you’ll receive a superior quality along with a reliable and trustworthy individual that requires less training.

Decide your budget keeping in mind the following factors:

  1. The job description: Are you hiring a VA to do general tasks or specialised tasks? VA that perform specialised functions like social media marketing, marketing campaign development charge more. Moreover, a programmer will always cost you more than a social media manager. So, 
  2. Your involvement: The more skilled the VA, the less time it takes to train them (and the more costly it is to hire them). If you can spend time training the virtual assistant, you can hire an entry-level VA with less experience. However, if you want someone you can just instruct with the job to be done, then go for a more experienced assistant. But they will charge more.
  3. Skills and experience: The higher the skill and experience, the better the results (in most cases). This is especially true when it comes to specialised tasks. If you demand good results, always go for the more experienced VA.
  4. Location: The VA’s country also plays a role in deciding your budget for the virtual assistants. A VA operating from India might cost you less than a VA operating from the USA.
  5. Task urgency: If you demand the work to be done urgently, you might need to pay more.
  6. Payment terms: VAs can be paid per hour, per task, per project, or they can be hired on a subscription basis. The terms can affect your cash flow, so include them as a deciding factor while deciding your VA budget.

Once you have all this information ready, the next step is to start searching for the perfect VA.

Select Good Platform(s) To Hire Your Virtual Assistant

Your choice of platform to hire a VA should depend on

  • Whether you are looking for a VA to do a general or administrative task or a specialised task, and
  • Whether you are looking for project-based, time-based, or subscription-based VA pricing.

You can go for a freelance marketplace if you’re looking for a specialised VA and want to pay-per-project. VAs that help you in administrative tasks and are hired on a monthly retainer can be hired through VA agencies or companies that vouch to provide quality services. 

Freelance Marketplaces

Freelance marketplaces are the easiest way to find a virtual assistant, especially for specialised tasks. These marketplaces connect you directly with VAs from around the world. All you need to do is post your job details (including the budget you have allocated) and then wait for the applicants to come pouring in. Some of the biggest names in the online business world use these marketplaces to hire virtual assistants. Here are some of the most well-known freelance marketplaces that you can use to hire virtual assistants from:

fiverr
Fiverr

This is one of the oldest and most popular freelance marketplaces. On Fiverr, you can hire a virtual assistant to do almost anything for as low as $5. For example, you can hire someone to write a sales pitch for you, create a logo for your business, or even design a website for you. Whatever task you need doing, there’s probably someone on Fiverr who can do it for you.


How To Hire A Virtual Assistant: A Guide 1
Upwork

Upwork is one of the oldest and most trusted freelance marketplaces on the web. Use this platform to connect with people who can do a wide variety of work, including writing, data entry, accounting, programming, designing and much more. Upwork also has a section for virtual assistants where you can post your job details and get a lot of bids from VAs from around the world.


How To Hire A Virtual Assistant: A Guide 2
Outsourcely

Outsourcely is yet another well-known freelance marketplace that connects you with skilled virtual assistants from around the globe. Outsourcery allows you to go through a list of available virtual assistants and even tone down your search using filters like skills and experience.

VA Agencies

Virtual assistant agencies are experts at providing quality VAs for hire. These companies have an in-house team of human resource managers who vet each applicant that comes their way. They also ensure that all their VAs are well trained, stay current with the latest technology, and have a good command of English. Here are some of the VA companies you can use to hire your virtual assistants:

zirtual logo
Zirtual

Zirtual is a renowned virtual assistant company that you can choose to hire US-based virtual assistants who do general and administrative tasks for you like email management, creating marketing materials, booking travel arrangements, keeping your calendar, managing your address book, and much more. The company usually hires US college students and some professionals, train them for your jobs, and make sure your work is done as required.


belay logo
Belay

Belay hires virtual assistants from worldwide, including the US, Canada, UK, India, Philippines, and many other countries. Like most virtual assistant companies, Belay also provides an in-house training programme for its VAs to fully handle any assignment you give them. Moreover, you can also rely on this company for some of your specialised tasks like bookkeeping, social media strategising, and website designing.


getmagic logo
Magic

Magic is another well-known virtual assistant company that provides exceptional service to its clients for as low as $10 per hour. This company has a pool of more than 10,000 highly skilled and experienced virtual assistants who are hand-picked by the company’s human resource team.

Post An Attractive Job or Reach Out Yourself

Once you’ve selected the perfect platform to hire your VA from, post an attractive job on it or use the directory feature they provide to find the VA that fits your requirements.

Here are some tips for posting a good VA job ad:

  • Write clear titles with relevant keywords. This will make it easier for applicants to know what you’re looking for with just a glance.
  • Make sure to include an introduction of your company and why you can be a good company to work with.
  • List the duties and responsibilities.
  • List the skills required, so people who don’t fit don’t apply.
  • And don’t forget the information on how to apply and the deadline.

Review Applications & Schedule Interviews

If everything goes right, you’ll receive numerous applications. But not every applicant will be suitable for you. So, after going through all the applications, you’ll need to interview those candidates that are most likely to be a good fit for your needs. If you do it right, you’ll be able to find a few applicants who can be a good fit. But it doesn’t end there. After you’ve interviewed and shortlisted your applicants, you’ll need to perform some due diligence on them. This means you’ll need to check their references, do some background checks on them and ask some questions.

Develop A Test Task

Before you select any applicant to be your virtual assistant, make sure to make them do a test task first. This will allow you to evaluate their skills as a whole. You should evaluate not only their communication skills but also their organisational skills, their ability to work under pressure, their ability to multi-task, and many other essential skills you should expect from your VA. Once you’ve evaluated their overall skills, you can then proceed with the hiring process. But don’t forget to use your judgement! Some people are just not cut out for the job and should not be hired. Be picky and discerning when it comes to who you hire. It will pay off in spades!

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How To Hire A Virtual Assistant: A Guide

by Aashish Pahwa