The demand for a virtual assistant (VA) is ever-increasing because they are proving to be a cost-effective alternative to in-office secretaries or administrative assistants. While anybody can hire a virtual assistant, it’s usually the start-ups and small businesses that will truly benefit from their services. What does a virtual assistant do?
Briefly, a virtual assistant is generally someone who takes care of routine office tasks like answering calls and emails, scheduling appointments, taking care of travel bookings and related arrangements, balancing books, and organizing notes, among many others. All these tasks are taken care of on a virtual platform. Communications with the client are done on a virtual platform as well.
What does the “virtual” part actually mean? Apart from communicating and performing all tasks on a virtual platform, the virtual part here could also mean the VA working for you can be located in any part of the world, working at a completely different time zone than yours.
Hiring a VA: Factors to Consider
1. Outsourced services provider or freelance
Before you start with the actual search, you first have to decide whether you’re doing the hiring process entirely on your own, which basically means you are opting for an independent freelancer instead of a VA from an outsourcing provider. Hiring a freelancer may give you more freedom on who to choose but you would have to take care of the onboarding process yourself as well as additional training, if and when necessary. With a VA from an outsourcing provider, all trainings, onboarding, and even troubleshooting are taken out of your hands.
2. Specific tasks
While a VA is usually hired to take care of routine tasks mentioned above, there are virtual assistants that can be hired specifically for other specific tasks like social media marketing (blogging, commenting, lead generation, and such). Others are hired for their savviness in SEO planning, article writing, QA testing, and training. Whatever tasks you need your VA to perform, make sure to be specific to avoid any confusion or miscommunication later on.
A VA can work for you for a week, a month, a year, or longer, depending on your needs. A project-based VA will only be with you until the project is completed. A VA that will be your virtual shadow could be more of a personal VA in that they will continue to work for you as long as you need them, which could be a year to several years. Be specific about the duration of the contract.
It goes without saying that the VA’s experience and expertise are the topmost factors you should consider. Usually, a trial period is encouraged between parties to see if the setup will work for both parties.