How To Hire The Right Virtual Assistant

As busy mompreneurs, most of us could really use the help of a virtual assistant to manage our business.
 
So to help figure out the best way to hire one, I went straight to the source (virtual assistants themselves and the mom entrepreneurs who’ve hired them) to find out how to hire the right virtual assistant for your business without wasting time or getting burned in the process.
 

Where can a mom entrepreneur find a virtual assistant to hire?

 
When I asked on HARO how a mom entrepreneur can find a virtual assistant, Suzanne Roy answered, “Virtually, of course!”.  Here are the virtual assistant hot beds:
 

  • Social media sites — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest – any one who calls herself a “virtual” assistant should be on here.  Suzanne says that “an excellent virtual assistant must be prominent on all the social networking sites.” Try tweeting that you’re looking for a virtual assistant and see how long it takes to get a reply. 😉
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  • Google search — Kristi Bennitt says, “Any virtual assistant worth her salt has a website, so doing a Google search for “virtual assistant”, “virtual bookkeeper” or “Seattle virtual assistant”, for example, will give you great targeted results.”
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  • Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce — who knew that virtual assistants had their very own chamber of commerce? Cathy Griepsma of Making Life Easier for You, that’s who.  Cathy says, “The VACC has loads of great advice for VA’s and also for folks that want to hire them.”
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  • Fiverr — A quick search will yield plenty of options to choose from. Simply narrow down your parameters to find the help that’s right for you.
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What questions should a mom entrepreneur ask when interviewing a potential virtual assistant to insure that they are a good fit?

 

  • Ask what computer programs they use and be sure they’re compatible with your computer system.
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  • Ask for references
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  • Ask for the typical turn around time for work requested
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  • Ask what types of companies & industries she works with
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  • Ask for her website address and visit it
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  • Ask if there will be a conflict of interest when working for you and any of her other clients
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  • Ask to review her confidentiality agreement
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  • Ask if she utilizes a non-compete agreement. If so, review it
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  • Ask about her work style (project oriented, task oriented, self starter, etc.) and how many hours in a day she’s available to work.  Ask when she does the majority of her work – at night, during the day, or weekends – so you can manage deadlines if necessary.
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  • Ask if the work will be subcontracted
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More tips for insuring the “right fit”:

 

  • Speak on the phone — you can often get a “read” on someone just by hearing their voice and how they answer questions.
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  • Offer as much information as possible about the job — a virtual assistant might decide she’s not the right fit
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  • Discuss her expectations — what will she need from you to do her job?
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How is a virtual assistant paid? By the project or hourly?

Some virtual assistants charge an hourly rate, usually between $10-$50 per hour depending on her experience or the work to be performed (data entry, customer service, social media marketing, etc).  Other virtual assistants work on retainer — they are paid in advance for ongoing projects or tasks that will be done on a monthly basis.  Still others offer a flat rate per project and have a “menu” of services provided.
 
 
 

How can a mom entrepreneur avoid getting burned when hiring a virtual assistant?

 

  • Check references, check references, check references!
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  • Always sign a contract –for IRS purposes, you will have to file a 1099 if you pay them over $600 or so a year (if both of you are located in the US).   The contract needs to clearly state that they are a contract worker, etc.  Otherwise, you might have to pay taxes for them.
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  • Make sure there’s a confidentiality clause and/or non-compete clause in place — not that it would stop anyone but, if you have it, you have something to take with you to court if necessary.
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  • Keep records — how many hours your VA worked, what projects they completed, how much you paid them, etc.
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  • Start off small, with a “pilot” project.  For example, if you eventually plan for 20 hrs per month, start with 5 hrs the first month or two. Don’t mention the possibility of more hours. Instead, observe how a VA handles the tasks, her communication skills, etc.
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  • Ask about invoice policies, including late penalties and interest
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Hiring a virtual assistant can be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made, especially if you follow these steps.  Says Angelique Rewers, mom of three month old twin boys and co-founder of Richer.Smarter.Happier, “When it comes to my VA, honestly, I don’t know what I would do without her.”
 
 

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Heather Allard

Heather Allard is a mom of three kids + one big rescue dog. She's a wellness buff, an essential oil educator with dōTERRA, and a self-professed “entrepreneur to the core”.
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21 Comments

  1. Janette

    What do you think about using something like video interviewing to improve the chances of finding the right VA? I wrote about this idea recently here:

    Reply
  2. Cindy

    Hi Heather,

    I noticed that this blog is still being read although its made few years back. Like Chris, I find this relevant so I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts about hiring a VA. I found my right VA three months ago from staff.com. I couldn’t be happier with their monitoring software called TimeDoctor as I don’t have to check if she’s logged in and working or if she is on facebook.

    Reply
  3. Phil Edwards

    Hi Heather I wanted to write to you about the benefits of putting together a client welcome pack, which certainly helped me when hiring a virtual assistant. Really enjoyed your writing. With gratitude Phil.

    A Client Welcome Pack

    How to Introduce a Client to Your Services? Use a Client welcome pack.

    How you welcome your customer is crucial, this is the virtual assistants chance to describe how they can perform at their best, once a new client has decided to hire a virtual assistant it is necessary to welcome the client in the perfect way. Providing a welcome pack is a useful tool to getting hired.

    Virtual assistants need to set firm criteria for a working relationship at the outset. These should include:

    1. About you or About Us
    Grab the clients attention, tell the client about you or your VA company, so clients can ensure they are hiring the right virtual assistant. Why did you become a virtual assistant? This is a question you can not afford to skip read:

    2. Services available
    Tell customers exactly how you can help them? What exact services can you provide and how are you computer literate, what programs do you routinely use? For example your services might be ghost writing to design in Microsoft Suite and Adobe Photoshop. Its best to be specific.

    If you are a company tell the client more generally what services you provide for example:

    “Hire Virtual Assistant is a VA Company that provides Virtual Assistant Services, VA Services, Virtual Administrative Assistant, Virtual Receptionist and Work From Home.”

    3. Your Values and Policies
    Give information about of all your guidelines so customers know exactly what to expect when they begin working with you. Demystify your working practice and how the client will work with you? (as appropriate).

    Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant or Virtual Assistant Company
    Tell customers the advantages to dealing with you or your staff. What can you offer that no-one else can? give information on any additional value or service you can provide. Are you creative? How have you overcome problems in the past? Many sites provide reasons for hiring a virtual assistant this is a good explanatory post: http://www.hireyourvirtualassistant.com/blog/advantages-of-hiring-a-virtual-assistant-versus-a-full-time-employee/

    4. The Agreement Stage
    Tell customers what you want them to provide to you so the work can begin? How you want them to proceed? They may sign a working agreement or they may need to pay before the service is provided. This is unique to each agreement. There are many companies that send such policies out to clients Brickwork India is one example. http://www.brickworkindia.com/our-values/

    5. Contact information
    It is important to provide contact information. It is useful for it to be included at the top and bottom of the page. Name, address, Phone number, Fax, Email, Web Address are commonly displayed. However, many companies control how they receive their information for example directing fax to email.

    One more set of advice keep your welcome pack short and to the point so it doesn’t scare clients away. You can always provide links to your website for clients to read more if they wish.

    Phil Edwards
    http://www. Family-Portrait-Poses.com

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Phil!

      Thank you SO MUCH for this very helpful information. It’s such a great idea to have a Client Welcome Pack!

      Heather

      Reply
      • Phil Edwards

        Heather
        Its great to hear from you. As I say it really helped me. Please keep me informed of your posts and good luck!
        With gratitude
        Phil

        Reply
  4. Chris Umiastowski

    Hi Heather,

    Your post is a few years old, but I’m replying because I still think people are reading this and the content is evergreen / relevant no matter when it was written.

    The way I think about VA hiring is that you can either hire someone who works for you, or you can hire someone who is assigned to you but working through some third party platform like Elance, oDesk, or any agency that provides VAs.

    I prefer to hire directly and pay my virtual staff directly. This is something I learned a couple of years ago and have fallen in love with because I can build up the culture that I want to build up. The people who work for me really feel like my employees even though they are technically contractors.

    If you really need someone in your time zone, depending on the kind of work you do, you have to hire locally. BUT if you can manage your business such that a VA in another time zone can do (with a couple of overlapping hours per day, perhaps), then you can hire someone in (for example) the Philippines for a very economical rate. It’s incredibly powerful for entrepreneurs!

    If I can add one site to your list it is this:
    http://OutsourceFactor.com

    Disclosure: I’m a co-founder. We provide a search engine to match jobseekers with employers. It’s free to register and use. We’re not monetizing the site at all at this point. We’re building an audience and adding a lot of value for people.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for your very thought-FULL comment. 🙂 I have to say that I agree with you after having hired the most wonderful assistant/manager/social media supermom last summer. I appreciate the link to Outsource Factor and will definitely check it out!

      Heather

      Reply
  5. team mak

    when you hire a virtual assistant for your business, be sure that the person you choose is the right person to handle your kind of business, give him/her a test how he handle situation, and from that we can assured that we have the right person.

    Reply
  6. David

    Great tips Heather,

    To find the right virtual assistants, you should know the keywords you are using when finding them online. Examples are:

    Best Offshore Services
    Best Outsourcing services
    Offshore Service Provider
    Offshore Services
    Administrative Services

    It’s best to hire Virtual Assistants who are working in a Company because their skills are tested, and the details of their resumes are verified. (it is easy to create a resume) you know what I mean. If you hire someone to do homebased jobs, chances are they can be distracted, it is not easy to monitor them (which is not your job), they might send you over-rated resumes. I will share the link of the website where I got my VA. She’s been working with me more than a year. Never hesitate to ask tons of questions while interviewing a VA.

    Reply
  7. Karen

    Hi Heather,

    Mind if I leave a shameless plug? Anyone looking for affordable ($5 an hour) yet reliable Virtual Assistant services are welcome to visit us at .

    Great post by the way. Peopleperhour and Guru are also great places to find dedicated VA’s. The team of VA’s I manage now mostly came from those sites.

    Reply
  8. nasrine

    I was JUST saying that maybe I need to work with a VA or start to research one to help me out. This is so timely.

    Reply
  9. Holly

    Just last month I hired a new VA. Even as someone who works virtually, it is STRESSFUL to hire a VA! I searched (and searched!) and finally found the one with the right combination of services, price, and look/feel that I needed.

    Great tips and links!

    Reply
  10. ellen

    Hi Heather-
    I just posted on Mogul Mom about putting a book together of my cuttings. I think I will put some feelers out there to see how much interest there is. Then see about possibly hiring a VA to do the task….could be a good way for me to try this avenue out.
    Thanks for all your great advice…ellen

    Reply
  11. Tony Oravet

    Great post! I got to your site via the FreelanceSwitch.com website. I am currently thinking about how I could hire a VA to help me with the mundane tasks of estimates/invoice creation and follow ups. The main thing that would help me is billing collections. I have found, as I am sure you have, that collections can become a very time consuming part of the business.

    I like your ideas on how a VA should be paid. I guess the most important aspect of this would be having a way to track their time with a project management tool or finding someone that you trust to keep up with their own time.

    Thanks for the post and the great information.

    Gillian – thanks for the great link to the VA Networking site. This should help my business out, http://www.evenparsolutions.com.

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Tony,

      I agree – chasing down payments eats up a lot of time as a freelancer. Back when I had my product business (wearable infant blankets), I used to offer my wholesalers a small discount if they paid up front via Paypal or credit card – it was a win/win because EVERYONE loves a discount and it saved me a TON of time on receivables.

      That might be something to consider while you’re looking for a VA. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by! I love FreelanceSwitch!

      Heather

      Reply
  12. Lorin K. Mask

    Great Article Heather! However, you forgot to add “ask other entrepreneur’s you know to recommend someone” I usually start there. I will ask people I trust as to whom they would refer to me!!! It’s a good place to start because you are getting first hand recommendation. Also, I don’t and I’m sure others do not, recommend unless they are sure. I always make sure I refer people who won’t embarrass me!

    thanks for the info on pricing by the way. Here in the New York area, I’ve hears some getting $60/hour! I find 10 to 15 more resoanable unless they have area’s or expertise.

    Cheers,
    Lorin
    Founder, Entrepreneur and Professional Moms Association – a non-profit connecting BusiMoms!

    Reply
    • Heather Allard

      Ooh, you’re right Lorin! Great tip! Word of mouth is always one of the best ways to find anything!

      Thanks for the tip!
      Heather

      Reply
  13. Gillian Slater

    Hello

    This is a very useful article.

    You can also download a free E-book at VAnetworking.com on Finding the Ultimate VA for your Business –

    This is an excellent resource for anyone working with a VA for the first time or if you want to maximize your existing VA partnership.

    I started my own VA business with the help of VAnetworking.com and would certainly recommend their website to anyone requiring information on Virtual Assistance.

    Good luck

    Gillian
    http://www.bushmillsva.com

    Reply
  14. Ros

    This post has definitely got me considering a VA. Thanks for an informative post.

    Reply

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