What Is a Virtual Assistant & How To Hire One in 2023

By: Dan Trujillo | Updated: March 30, 2023

Key Takeaway

A virtual assistant (VA) is a remote worker who provides support. Hiring a VA can save time and money, increase productivity and achieve an optimal balance for you and your team. We discuss all the things you need to hire a VA: determining needs, creating a job description, and hiring through a reputable platform; zeroing in on what to look for: experience, communication skills, and a positive attitude.

What Is a Virtual Assistant?

They are experts at accomplishing administrative, accounting, and customer service-related tasks that don’t require an in-office presence

Remote work culture makes it possible to outsource admin tasks to VAs while reducing operating costs by 70% or more, allowing entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEOs, and freelance professionals to focus on more substantial goals.

Since 50% of the American workforce is predicted to become virtual by 2028, now is a great time to explore your virtual assistant options. Read on to learn more about the qualifications, costs, and hiring processes associated with virtual assistants.

What Does A Virtual Assistant Do?

After a successful onboarding, a virtual assistant can complete any task that can be performed remotely. While it’s certainly easier to just say “anything that can be done remotely,” we’ve seen businesses leverage virtual assistants in several ways. 

Other than specific niche activities such as video editing for content creators, we see our companies typically fill a few key positions with remote talent. Below are just a few examples of the most common roles a virtual assistant can fill.

Administrative Tasks

Virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of “busywork” tasks that local experts often prefer not to juggle with their more specific, higher-end responsibilities. For example, filing paperwork, inputting data, managing inboxes, coordinating meetings, etc.

Reviewing, entering, filing, and organizing paperwork can quickly become draining for leaders. Consider outsourcing administrative tasks to a remote working virtual assistant to lighten the load for local experts, allowing them to focus on client relationships.

HR And Recruiting

A virtual HR assistant can help your organization vet job candidates, post job ads, and train new employees. In addition to recruitment, virtual HR assistants can keep files on employees and company activities, collect performance reviews, and connect employees with other service providers.


Outsource your accounting tasks to a virtual professional who is familiar with bookkeeping best practices. Virtual assistant accounting services can be applied to industries like law firms, real estate investment groups, and small businesses that want to ease the workload of their local employees.


A virtual assistant can be great for sales support as an inside sales agent, fromrom phone prospecting tasks like warm and cold calling to lead screening, client follow-ups, and lead nurturing. They can also be responsible for analytics tracking and reporting.


The world of advertising and social media management can benefit greatly from a virtual assistant because they can often work from anywhere, as well as during the hours your local staff is not present. 

They can handle things like responding to comments and messages, posting scheduled content, and tracking and reporting analytics. 

Data Entry

Virtual assistants can fulfill your data entry obligations across a variety of industries like real estate and health care. If you would like your VA to adhere to a specific process, document the process and share it as a guide for your virtual assistant to follow as they complete their tasks.

Social Media Management

​​Today more than ever, social media plays a crucial role in just about any business advertising effort. Hiring a virtual assistant to stay on top of your various social media accounts and applications can be invaluable. 

Your local staff can focus on their specific job duties while a virtual assistant handles everything from article selection and copy review, photo curation, market analysis, and even community management. 

Customer Service

Many of the above areas of expertise can be combined into general service and support with a virtual assistant. With excellent English-speaking skills and fierce loyalty, a virtual assistant is great for the frontlines of your business, facing customers. 

They can respond to inquiries, provide tech support, schedule appointments, route calls and messages, and so much more. Teach your virtual assistants any client nuances during the onboarding process to streamline the transition for your customers.

Personal Assistance 

Aside from the essential executive assistant duties like scheduling, client communication, and executing administrative tasks, VAs can also be personal assistants who ensure your day runs smoothly outside of the office.

From scheduling appointments for your family to sending flowers to your partner, a virtual personal assistant is there to fill any gaps in your professional and personal life.

“Our VA does a lot for us — she answers all the emails and replies to most of the inquiries, she answers the phone, she returns voicemails and she handles our intake coordination.”
Keeley Teemsma, CEO, Refresh Psychotherapy

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. 

And 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

Respond 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. 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.

Virtual Assistant Skills And Job Qualifications

Virtual assistants come in a variety of experience levels and salary ranges. A mid-level virtual assistant can potentially bring the following skills and qualifications to the table:

  • Tech savvy
  • Great communication skills
  • Knowledge of data management systems
  • Solution-oriented
  • Google Workspace proficiency 
  • Microsoft Office proficiency
  • Some level of higher education
  • Great customer service skills
  • Possible certifications
  • Prior VA job experience

If there is a specific skill you would like your new VA to possess, make sure to share that in your job description.

How Much Does A Virtual Assistant Cost?

Pricing will always vary by region for any professional. The average cost to employ a local assistant full time in California is $21 an hour, or $59K per year after other fees are taken into account, such as insurance, benefits, and PTO. 

A virtual assistant with the same level of experience and skills is an average of $1,988 per month, or $24K per year. That’s including insurance, benefits, and PTO, because here at MyOutDesk we handle all of that for the assistant ourselves. 

Our customers only pay one flat monthly rate. That’s roughly $34K in savings, for the same kind of reliable, experienced professional. Here is a breakdown of hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly virtual assistant costs: 

Average Cost Of A Part-Time Virtual Assistant

Per hour From $7 to $35 an hour
Per week (20 hrs) From $140 to $700 a week

Per month (80 hrs)

From $560 to $2,800 a month

Per year (960 hrs)

From $6,720 to $33,600 a year


Virtual assistants are capable of more than administrative tasks, data entry, and social media management. They can be remote executive assistants, and personal assistants, and can even help you scale your business.

With the right training, a virtual assistant can be your company’s greatest asset. Discover how much a virtual assistant can save you with MyOutDesk.

Virtual Assistant FAQ

Do you still have virtual assistant job-related questions? We’ve got you covered.

How Do Virtual Assistants Work?

Virtual assistants work similarly to executive assistants or personal assistants — the only difference between the two is where they log in to work for you. They are just as reliable, loyal, and anxious to work as local employees. 

Save time, money, and the mental health of your local professionals by leveraging the age-old practice of outsourcing specific work to proven virtual assistants. 

What Are The Duties Of A Virtual Assistant?

The duties of a virtual assistant can be tailored to the needs of your company. Common VA duties include:

  • Responding to client emails
  • Uploading content to social media
  • Cold-calling sales leads
  • Scheduling weekly meetings
  • Reporting on data analytics 

A virtual assistant can also double as a personal assistant who is capable of organizing your professional and personal life. Scheduling doctor’s appointments and tracking your personal finances are all part of the personal assistant job description.

What Skills Does A Virtual Assistant Need?

A virtual assistant should be a great communicator, a team player, and extremely tech-savvy. Your VA will be responsible for troubleshooting virtual problems, so they should also be proficient in software like Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, and Zoom.

How Do I Find A Virtual Assistant Who Specializes In My Industry?

Many virtual assistant service companies state which industries they serve on their website. You can also search by experience and specific skills on services like Fiverr. 

MyOutDesk hires virtual assistants for a variety of industries so as to provide a wide variety of capable professionals for just about any business. Many skills and talents overlap between industries anyway, meaning a proven virtual assistant is often capable of serving various industries in similar roles.

What Are The Risks Of Hiring A Virtual Assistant?

The main risk associated with virtual assistants is the lack of physical presence, which can lead to communication difficulties in times of need or not knowing what exactly they’re working on. You can mitigate these kinds of risks when you have tracking applications for keeping in touch with your assistant.

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