How to hire virtual assistants
From fielding phone calls to scheduling meetings to data entry, if you’re drowning in the minutiae of running a business, a virtual assistant could help.
So how do you find a virtual assistant? What follows are some tips for finding top virtual assistants on Upwork.
How to shortlist virtual assistants
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台As you’re browsing available virtual assistants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Technology fit. From project collaboration tools (e.g., Trello) to teleconferencing services (e.g., GoToMeeting), you want a virtual assistant who can slide right into your existing workflow.
- Organization. Virtual assistants are perfect for administrative tasks such as organizing company files and folders and assisting with document control.
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular virtual assistant.
Questions to ask before writing a virtual assistant job post
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台There are a variety of virtual assistants available, some with specific industry experience, some accustomed to working with executives, some strong in customer service roles, and so on. You can get more qualified proposals and speed up your search by being more specific with your needs.
Before posting a job, ask yourself:
- Do I need a general or specialized VA? Based on your project’s scope, do you need someone with specific skills such as a finance background? Someone experienced at making cold calls? Or someone who’s fluent in English and Spanish?
- Am I clear about what needs to be done? The more specific you are with the tasks you need completing, the higher your chance of success. For example, instead of saying you need help updating social media, specify a task like, “write social media posts based on existing content for the company’s FB, LI, and Pinterest.”
- How will we communicate? There are talented VA’s located worldwide, figuring out how you’ll communicate and share documents is important to plan upfront. Do you need someone within your time zone? Will you be handling most communication via email?
- Will they be using any special systems? You can ramp up a project faster by choosing people who are familiar with the programs they’ll be working in, such as JIRA or Hubspot.
How to write an effective virtual assistant job post
With a clear picture of your ideal virtual assistant in mind, it’s time to write that job post. Although you don’t need a full job description as you would when hiring an employee, aim to provide enough detail for a contractor to know if they’re the right fit for the project.
An effective virtual assistant job post should include:
- Scope of work: From booking travel arrangements to data entry, list all the deliverables you’ll need.
- Project length: Your job post should indicate whether this is a smaller or larger project.
- Background: If you prefer experience working with certain industries or tools mention this here.
- Budget: Set a budget and note your preference for hourly rates vs. fixed-price contracts.
Sample Project Description
Title: Virtual assistant to respond to customer surveys and light data entry
We need someone to help our product team perform a backlog of tasks including data entry, responding to customer surveys, and writing emails. We manufacture kitchen gadgets and at times, you may be asked to test a product and provide your opinion.
- Via email, provide thoughtful responses to 500-600 customer surveys. Responses are about 1-2 paragraphs each.
- Update basic Excel spreadsheets
- Basic knowledge of Excel
- Customer service experience a plus
- Available 20 hours per week for 5 weeks
- Include the word “blue” in the first line of your cover letter
Please submit your proposal by month, date, year.
Did you notice the unusual item under requirements? Yes, asking to include the word “blue” in the cover letter. Adding things like this is optional, but when you need someone detailed, it’s a good way to see if they’re observant and follow instructions well. It’s also a quick way to filter through a pile of proposals.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT FAQs
What is a virtual assistant?
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台A virtual assistant is a remote office assistant. Such assistants can provide the same administrative, clerical, and support services to your business that a secretary might do in person. From booking appointments to handling travel arrangements to taking meeting minutes and even handling project management, if it can be done remotely, a virtual assistant can help.
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Here’s a quick overview of the skills you should look for in freelance virtual assistants:
- Administrative support
- Customer service
- Research and data entry
- Time management
Virtual assistants help businesses reduce administrative overhead by serving as flexible, reliable, and resourceful sources of talent.
Why hire virtual assistants?
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台The trick to finding top virtual assistants is to identify your needs. Do you need help with simple administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings and answering phone calls? Or do you also require industry-specific experience such as knowledge of government standards for document control? The cost of your project will depend largely on your scope of work and the specific skills needed to bring your project to life.
How much does it cost to hire a virtual assistant?
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions.
- An experienced virtual assistant may command higher fees but also work faster, have more-specialized areas of expertise, and deliver higher-quality work.
- A contractor who is still in the process of building a client base may price their virtual assistant services more competitively.
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Which one is right for you will depend on the specifics of your project.
|Typical Rates Charged by Virtual Assistants*|
*Reflect rates charged by freelancers on Upwork in North America with over 1,000 hours and 90% success rate.
7 common mistakes to avoid when working with a virtual assistant
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Virtual assistants (VA) are remote office assistants. They provide administrative, clerical, and support services that can range from scheduling conference calls and sending invoices to more complex tasks regarding PR, marketing, and project management. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid when working with VAs.
1. Hiring for tasks instead of filling roles
Outsource a task and you may save yourself an hour. Outsource a role and you save yourself a job. Until the real AI revolution sweeps the world, the best VAs are people who can think for themselves. When you hire people to perform tasks you’re not taking advantage of this phenomenal human trait. When outsourcing tasks, once each is complete you must then spend time to delegate a new one. When you hire someone to fill a role, he or she can be trained to perform all the tasks associated with that role, keeping management time to a minimum.
2. Micromanaging a virtual assistants
We all know we shouldn’t be doing it, but if you’re a perfectionist it can be difficult to let someone else handle the reins of a business operation or task. Yet micromanagement is one of the most damaging habits an executive can have. When you micromanage, you become an operational bottleneck within your organization. It’s not that the buck shouldn’t stop with the boss, but when the buck’s been chopped up into too many indistinguishable pieces, teams can’t possibly predict your expectations and make independent decisions. VAs are supposed to free up your time, but if you micromanage you’ll end up spending more time delegating specific tasks than you gain from their help. Which brings us to our next mistake…
3. Not using a system
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Ever wonder if there was a way to have your cake and eat it too? In the context of virtual assistants, it may be possible to retain your perfectionism without succumbing to the pitfalls of micromanagement. By creating clear step-by-step procedures for how certain tasks should be performed, you can remove the guesswork and confusion that usually prevent teams working under micromanagers from being proactive and productive.
4. Neglecting to define a clear role or scope
When you’re working with a VA, or any other remote freelancer for that matter, it’s important to clearly define the role and the project scope. You can accomplish this by writing a clear project description for hiring a VA. Make a list of the specific tasks—social media posts, booking travel arrangements, scheduling meetings, etc.—of the role you’d like to outsource. Create a picture of the responsibilities, skills, and experience required of that role. Clarify whether this is a long-term hire or a one-time gig. Transparency will save you headaches and unmet expectations in the future.
5. Thinking you can 100% set it and forget it
2020欧洲杯体育投注平台Just because you don’t want to micromanage doesn’t mean you want to be an absentee manager either. You’ll still want to check in periodically on the projects and tasks you’ve assigned to your VA and provide feedback on his or her performance. How else is your VA supposed to learn how to better meet your business needs? Fortunately, plenty of project management tools are out there to help you better manage your VA and other members of the team. There are even freelancer management systems especially geared toward helping you work with VAs and other remote freelancers.
6. Failing to build trust
Virtual assistants can wear many hats. They can relieve you of all the repetitive, administrative, and clerical tasks associated with marketing, accounting, IT, sales, and so much more. But to take full advantage of a VA’s skills, you’ll need to be able to trust him or her. Trust has to be built; it’s a two-way street. You have to first ascertain whether you’re actually ready to delegate responsibilities to a VA. Then you have to be able to screen your short list and judge intangibles such as personality fit and attitude. Consider using test projects in your hiring process to help you select the right VA for your team.
7. Not realizing virtual assistants are more than costs on a spreadsheet
Yes, it’s important to factor in the cost of hiring a VA; budgets must be balanced. However, it’s even more important to remember that when you hire a VA you’re really investing in a person, a new member of the team who can help take your business to new heights. Congratulate your VA on his or her successes. Keep your criticisms constructive. The VA you bring onto the team today could grow into a full-fledged project manager tomorrow. Nurture your investments and they’ll pay dividends in the future.