This article helps you find and hire the right virtual assistant by identifying your needs and expectations, establishing clear communication, and using a thorough vetting process. Look for candidates with relevant experience, cultural alignment, and a willingness to learn. Set up a defined period to evaluate their performance and provide regular feedback. These tips can help establish a successful working relationship with your virtual assistant.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
Virtual assistants (VAs) work remotely on any task that doesn’t require an in-office presence and can be done from anywhere with a computer and high-speed internet. This can include but is not limited to:
- Administrative assistance
- Virtual reception,
- Customer service and support
- Social media management
- Sales support
- and more
With the growing acceptance and expectation of hybrid business models that include employees working from home, outsourcing specific tasks and roles has gained popularity. Many professional virtual assistants have been providing this service for growing businesses since long before the pandemic changed the way many of us do business.
Benefits of Virtual Staff
Save your local team from burnout
Decrease the workload for your local talent, freeing them up to focus on higher-value, dollar-producing tasks they are more accustomed to. Keep your local experts happy and supported, and reduce burnout.
Save money to allocate effectively
Save up to 70% on typical employee costs, by spending less on wages, benefits and insurance, PTO, and office overhead. The quality of work and efficiency remains the same if not improved, and you pay less to achieve it.
Save time for revenue-focused tasks
Buy back your time with a virtual assistant, by delegating anything that can be done remotely. Freeing yourself up to focus on whatever you want to do. Be that growing your business or having more time with your family.
Save energy by having more options
Hiring a virtual assistant offers the advantage of tapping into a more diverse pool of talent, allowing organizations to benefit from a wide range of skills, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity can enhance creativity, problem-solving, and innovation.
Types of Virtual Assistants
There are many different types of virtual assistants available for businesses small, medium, or large. From behind-the-scenes roles doing assorted busy work to lighten the load for your more specifically experienced employees, to front-line customer-facing roles to improve the customer experience. The pool of available virtual assistants is so robust and diverse, that there truly are professionals for just about any role in any sized business. If a job can be done from a computer hooked up to the internet, then there is likely a virtual assistant somewhere doing that job. Here are just a few specific examples of types of virtual assistants.
- Administrative work. An admin VA can manage your emails, schedule appointments, and handle routine administrative tasks. They can also assist with data entry, research, and document preparation, among other “busy” tasks.
- Marketing tasks. A marketing VA can help with social media management, content creation, and email marketing campaigns to promote your business. They can also analyze marketing data and assist in developing marketing strategies to reach your target audience effectively.
- Inside sales. An inside sales VA can prospect leads, make outbound sales calls, and follow up with potential customers to generate sales opportunities. They can also maintain customer databases, provide product information, and assist in closing sales deals.
- Real estate tasks. A real estate VA can assist with tasks such as managing property listings, scheduling property viewings, and coordinating with clients and other professionals in the industry. They can also help with administrative duties like handling emails, organizing documents, and maintaining databases related to property transactions.
- Customer service and technical support. A customer service VA can provide support to customers through various channels like email, chat, or phone, addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and ensuring a positive customer experience.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
Hiring a virtual assistant (or two, or three) can be extremely beneficial for any business trying to grow as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In the past, outsourcing roles and jobs seemed reserved only for large businesses or it seemed outright frowned upon. Nowadays, it’s suitable and affordable for businesses small, medium, or large.
It’s become increasingly accepted as a desirable business model, especially with the growing acceptance of hybrid business models allowing professionals to work from home. Hiring a virtual assistant requires four steps.
1. Curate A List Of Tasks
Before you begin the VA hiring process, curate a list of tasks you want your virtual assistant to complete. This task list will help you determine the following:
- How many hours you will need a VA to work
- What to write in the job description
- What training materials you will need to prepare
- If more than one virtual assistant will be necessary
If you’re struggling to decide which tasks to delegate to your new VA, check out our free hiring guide for inside tips on how to find the virtual assistant for you.
Potential Virtual Assistant Daily Tasks
- Response to client emails
- Upload content to social media
- Cold call sales leads
- Schedule weekly meetings
- Report on data analytics
2. Set Your Expectations
Document how you would like your VA to complete each task and approximately how much time it should take them to do so. Communicate your expectations clearly in the job description so you attract the best candidates for the role.
By delegating anything that can be done remotely, you can decrease the workload for your local talent, freeing them up to focus on higher-value, dollar-producing tasks they are more accustomed to.
Being upfront in the hiring process can attract VAs who are qualified to perform the tasks how you would expect them to. Keep in mind that a VA with more expertise may require a higher budget.
3. Decide On A Budget
A variety of factors will help determine how much you are able to spend on hiring a virtual assistant. These cost factors can include:
- Expected hours of the role
- Health insurance for full-time VAs
- Communication software costs
You can potentially save up to 70% on typical employee costs by spending less on wages, benefits and insurance, PTO, and office overhead. The quality of work and efficiency remains the same, if not improved, and you pay less to achieve it.
If you need help determining your budget for hiring a virtual assistant, consider using a VA hiring calculator to generate an estimated cost.
4. Create A Job Description
Crafting an effective job description is the first step towards finding the right virtual professional to join your team. It’s imperative to provide a comprehensive overview of the role and its importance within your organization, as well as the expectations and opportunities that come with remote work.
As your company embarks on the journey of hiring a virtual assistant (or several), you’ll want to begin by outlining the role’s significance in fulfilling your business objectives. By doing so, you can attract candidates who not only possess the necessary skills but also resonate with the impact they can make. Additionally, offering insights into your company’s values, culture, and commitment to remote work can set the stage for a successful partnership with the right candidate.
Now, let’s list the essential components of a job description for a virtual professional:
Include the following in your job description:
- A description of the role
- Key duties and responsibilities
- Skills and qualifications
- A list of tools/software they’ll be using
Sample Virtual Assistant Job Description Template
We are in search of a remote professional who can excel in both administrative and customer service roles. Within this position, you will assume responsibility for a diverse range of administrative functions, encompassing [Task 1], [Task 2], and [Task 3].
The ideal candidate will possess a track record of effectively managing administrative projects and delivering top-notch results with minimal supervision. Moreover, it would be highly beneficial if you possess prior experience in [Relevant Experience] and [Relevant Experience].
- [Task 1] (e.g., Managing customer inquiries via email and phone)
- [Task 2] (e.g., Overseeing comment moderation on social media platforms)
- [Task 3] (e.g., Proficiently handling [specific task])
Requirements and Qualifications:
- Proficiency in [Skill 1] (e.g., Exceptional English language comprehension and writing skills)
- Competence in [Skill 2] (e.g., Familiarity with social media platforms, particularly Instagram and Twitter)
- Demonstrated [Skill 3] (e.g., Polite and efficient customer service)
- Experience with tools such as WordPress, Slack, Sprout Social, etc.
Additional Desired Skills:
- Strong time management abilities
- Effective problem-solving skills
- Prior experience in customer support”
5. Vet Job Candidates
Vetting virtual assistant candidates can be done by the hiring entity or a third-party company that specializes in supplying VA talent.
There are more people now than ever seeking work they can do from home. Providing virtual assistant services is an easy way for them to secure that opportunity.
Local freelancers, however, have no company to vouch for them or hold them accountable. By hiring someone this way, you put your work and your business at their mercy.
MyOutDesk is the largest virtual assistant provider in the world, serving over 7,500 clients. MyOutDesk virtual assistants are vetted and selected based on your company’s unique needs.
5. Hire and Onboard Your New Virtual Assistant
Once you’ve chosen a virtual assistant to hire, the next steps are crucial to ensure a seamless integration into your business. Hiring through a service like MyOutDesk can be particularly advantageous, as they streamline the HR tasks and onboarding process. First, you’ll need to establish clear communication channels with your virtual assistant, detailing expectations, working hours, and preferred methods of contact. This initial conversation sets the tone for a productive working relationship.
Next, you’ll need to provide access to the necessary systems and tools your virtual assistant will require to perform their tasks. Whether it’s access to project management software, email accounts, or specific business applications, ensuring they have all the resources they need is essential. Services like MyOutDesk often have experience in setting up remote workspaces and can help you with a list of everything that is needed.
Lastly, regular check-ins, performance evaluations, and an open line of communication help build trust and ensure your virtual assistant remains aligned with your business goals. By hiring through a service like MyOutDesk, which offers HR support and onboarding assistance, you can focus on growing your business while knowing that the administrative aspects of remote hiring are expertly managed, providing a smoother onboarding experience for both you and your new virtual assistant.
What to Look For in a Virtual Assistant
Experience and Skill
It’s important to find professionals with relevant experience before handing over your precious business to them. Anyone can say they’re good with customers on the phone but then buckle under the pressure when faced with a difficult situation. This is where service providers like MyOutDesk excel because every virtual assistant is thoroughly interviewed for experience and skill sets, as well as undergoes FBI-grade background checks. The better fit they are for your industry as well as the role, the faster they can hit the ground running and provide value.
When you hire someone in-house, they’re in your domain and they typically use the preferred equipment you provide. Hiring someone remotely means relying on their own workspace and existing equipment. You need to ensure that they have everything they need to be successful in the role you hired them for. This means a comfortable, distraction-free environment. As well as a reliable computer and high-speed internet. Another benefit of going through a virtual assistant provider such as MyOutDesk is that these things are all verified and handled upon recruitment. We ensure our clients are set up for success with their virtual assistants, by ensuring everything is in order before placement.
Personality and Culture Fit
You should always include your virtual assistant as part of your company culture. This helps them stay efficient, happy, and reliable. It also helps them fit in with your local hires who look to your assistants for support. So it’s important to ensure that your virtual assistant fits in like any other member of the team, with a friendly and cooperative attitude. They need to be able to work autonomously as well as under specific directions, without issue. Just because they are somewhere else shouldn’t mean they don’t have to adhere to your usual expectations or the company vision.
3 Tips for Onboarding and Managing Your Virtual Assistant
Don’t Rush Training
It can be tempting to set your newly hired virtual assistant free with the tasks given. After all, you did hire them to save yourself time and money. But the less time spent preparing them for their role equals more time wasted down the road, via mistakes, repeated questions, and misunderstandings. Take the opportunity to establish training protocols and guidelines, and utilize them with your virtual assistant to expedite and improve the onboarding experience. This includes giving access and guidance for all the necessary platforms and tools of the position. More time spent ensuring they are ready for takeoff means better and longer-lasting results in the long run.
Maintain Consistent Communication
Just because you can’t walk down the hall to check in on your virtual assistant is not an excuse to give them more space than your local employees. If anything you should be in even more regular contact with them, so as to stay on top of expectations and progress.
In the first few weeks of hiring especially, you should schedule regular check-ins using a communication tool like Slack, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.. Use these times to ask and answer questions, provide feedback, check in on goals, and get to know them as a person.
Set Schedules and Goals.
Having a clear understanding of what to do and when to do it is imperative, especially at the start of any new position. You will greatly benefit from having a clear schedule mapped out for your virtual assistant, so there are no surprises regarding start and stop times, breaks, and regular meetings.
In addition, clearly defined goals and expectations will ensure your assistant knows how to execute to your expectations. The better the roadmap your assistant has, the better chances they have of providing the value you expect. MyOutDesk has proprietary software available to every client for tracking and managing their assistant more closely.
5 Signs It’s Time To Hire a Virtual Assistant
- Overwhelmed with Administrative Tasks: If the business owner or employees find themselves spending a significant portion of their time on administrative duties such as scheduling, email management, data entry, and phone calls, it may be a sign that they need assistance to free up their time for more strategic activities.
- Inconsistent Customer Support: If customers are experiencing delays in response times, unanswered inquiries, or inconsistent support due to a lack of dedicated customer service personnel, hiring a virtual assistant can help improve customer satisfaction and maintain a positive reputation.
- Missed Appointments and Deadlines: Frequently missed appointments, deadlines, or important meetings can negatively impact a business’s productivity and reputation. A virtual assistant can help manage calendars, send reminders, and ensure everything runs smoothly.
- Growing Workload: As the business grows, the workload often increases. If the workload is becoming unmanageable for the existing team, bringing in a virtual assistant can help handle the extra tasks without the need for a full-time, in-house hire.
- Inefficient Social Media and Online Presence: Maintaining an active online presence, including social media updates, content creation, and engagement with followers, can be time-consuming. A virtual assistant with expertise in digital marketing and social media management can help enhance the business’s online visibility and engagement.
In each of these cases, a virtual professional assistant can provide valuable support, allowing the business to operate more efficiently and effectively.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant For Your Business
Once upon a time, “outsourcing” was a dirty word. But for as long as that’s been the stigma, businesses have been practicing it nonetheless. Because the benefits of outsourcing specific tasks to a more affordable but equally capable professional somewhere else are simply undeniable. For example, we wouldn’t take our car to a mechanic down the street if we knew there was another shop just a few blocks further, that does the same quality of work for much less. Sometimes a minor inconvenience or learning period is worth the benefit, especially when that benefit is consistent.
MyOutDesk has been providing experienced, proven virtual assistants to businesses small, medium, and large since the recession in 2006. We survived by helping other businesses not just survive, but thrive. And many saw such great benefits of leveraging virtual assistants that they are still with us, today. Some have entire departments operated by our professionals and have seen dramatic increases in their yearly revenue. This is a result of delegating the busy work to virtual assistants we brought them to choose from. They took the time to properly train them on their procedures and systems and watched their ROI grow as our people hit the ground running for them.
So if you are at all curious about whether our business model is a good fit for you, please use the link below to request a free consultation. We won’t bug you with unsolicited phone calls or endless emails. We take the time to hear you out and understand your business and its needs, and then we pitch a plan involving one or more of our virtual assistants. Hand-picked to relieve your pain points.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are virtual assistants worth it?
Virtual assistants can be a valuable asset for administrative support, digital marketing, inside sales, customer service, and more. Delegating such tasks can free up your time to focus on core business activities. They are also cost-effective compared to hiring full-time employees and provide flexibility in scaling your support as needed. However, the effectiveness of virtual assistants also depends on strong communication, task delegation, and finding the right fit for your specific business needs.
How do I know if a virtual assistant is right for my business?
To assess if a virtual assistant may be right for you, it’s best to start by asking yourself several questions. Do you or any members of your team often feel burnt out? Are you bogged down by administrative tasks and busy work? Are you neglecting opportunities to grow your business because you’re too busy or distracted?
Perhaps by a task that you don’t feel is part of your expertise? If you answered yes to any of these questions then a virtual assistant would likely be very beneficial to you, and/or members of your teams.
How much does a virtual assistant cost?
The cost of a virtual assistant can vary widely depending on factors such as location, skillset, experience, and the tasks you need them to perform. Typically, a VA can be hired for a fraction of the cost of an in-house employee, due to factors such as less overhead needs and foreign wage differences. However, some virtual assistants may charge a fixed monthly fee or offer package deals for specific services. It’s important to assess your budget and requirements carefully, and then shop around to find a virtual assistant whose pricing aligns with your needs and budget. Determine the cost of VA services with our virtual assistant cost calculator.
How long does it take to train a virtual assistant?
The average time allocated to training a new hire in the US was 78 hours as of 2021. MyOutDesk recommends spending the first 30 days with your virtual assistant dedicated to training and testing them on their job duties. The better systems and processes you have in place the faster the training can be completed. Since we place our virtual assistants with clients based on their specific industry and role, training times can often be even shorter. Many of our assistants have prior experience doing most of the tasks a business would require of them. Often a bulk of the training is just onboarding them to your specific practices and proprietary tools.