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How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Updated on October 29, 2015

What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)?

A virtual assistant or VA is normally a self-employed professional who provides technical, administrative or social assistance to clients from a remote place or his/her home office. There are various reasons for which entrepreneurs, irrespective of their business scale, advocate hiring a VA. The following are some of the reasons why you might want to hire a VA:

  • You are overwhelmed with the workload.
  • You are bogged down with repetitive tasks.
  • Your productivity is adversely affected by your personal errands.
  • Your business is growing but you can’t afford full-time in-house staff.
  • You don’t want to bear the hassle of hiring and training in-house staff.

If you are wondering how to hire a VA for your business, the following are some useful tips that would help you in getting started with this process.

Detail the Tasks You'd Like your VA to Perform

There are many tasks that can be managed virtually by a VA, from a remote location. Some of them are:

  • Answering emails
  • Website updates
  • Blog entries
  • Transcription
  • Research
  • Editing
  • Handling phone calls
  • Customer service
  • Shipping physical products

You should let your virtual assistant have a clear idea about the tasks entrusted to him/her so that you get the desired results and your business operations run smoothly, without any hiccups.

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Create a List of Delegated Tasks

You should list all the delegated projects and compute the difference between what you’re paying your VA for the delegated projects and your total project value. This will let you assess if hiring a virtual assistant is really feasible economically.

For example, perhaps your project is projected to make you $5000 in income. If your other expenses apart from the virtual assistant will cost you $2000 and your virtual assistant will cost you $2000, you will only have $1000 to account for your own time and profit. In this case, it may not be economically feasible for you to consider this option.

Write a Proper Job Description

Clarity in the job description would make lives of both the parties involved easier, apart from ensuring that tasks get completed on time and results delivered. To make a list of specific tasks that you need to be handled by your VA, you can make use of these steps:

  • Assess your requirements and the skills your virtual assistant should have to handle them. It could be marketing skills, graphic designing/coding skills, bookkeeping or any other specialized skills.
  • Be specific about an approximate timeframe (say, certain hours per week) that you expect your VA to invest for your projects. Also, consider the time zones, especially if you and your virtual assistant are located in regions that are a long distance apart.
  • Decide the mode of work. It may be working over the phone, IM or email.

Use the Internet to Find a VA

Unless you happen to know someone already who can serve as your Virtual assistant or you have a recommendation from someone, you can take the online route to find a competent and qualified VA. There are various ways to search for one such as:

  • Browse the freelance job sites. My favorite one is Upwork and I've been very successful at finding help through this site.
  • Post on different online classifieds portals
  • Take the help of various social networking platforms such as Facebook. I'd had some excellent success in getting help with editing my books by simply posting that I'm hiring as my Facebook status update.

Choose the Right Applicant and Start with a Simple Project

You should select a VA who suits your requirements and has the requisite qualifications and experience. As many projects these days require a versatile virtual assistant, you should keep the qualities you desire in mind while screening the applicants.

Start with a Simple Project

It is important to test the working mode of your VA. Start with a straightforward project or with a paid trial. This will help you to have an idea of how well you work together and whether the chosen person is a good fit for your projects. This in turn will help you decide whether you want to retain him/her for your ongoing and upcoming projects or look for another virtual assistant.

Make it clear to the person that you hire that you're looking for a long-term agreement but only for the right person. This will likely get you much better results than hiring a string of VA's on one-off projects.

Be clear about the results

Be sure about the outcome in terms of maintaining a timeline or creating a checklist of running projects that your VA should adhere to. Letting you virtual assistant know what’s expected of him/her would make the professional work better and deliver results.

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Seal the Deal

You should have proper paperwork signed by your VA that confirms the following terms:

  • Confidentiality is extremely important in today's highly competitive marketplace. Let your virtual assistant know the way you’ll handle breach of this clause.
  • Clearly mention the payment mode. Many freelance sites take care of this aspect by asking the clients to escrow funds before the VA's start work on their projects.
  • Make an estimate of the time and hours needed to complete the work. Try to negotiate the terms with your virtual assistant based on whether you want your VA to work for certain hours, or on an ongoing basis, or as an ad-hoc depending upon the sudden needs.

By keeping all these factors in mind, you can surely find a virtual assistant who will help you to take your online or Internet business to the next level.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

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