As your large or small business starts to grow, you’ll realize that you can’t accomplish everything on your to-do list by yourself. If you want to get more done, work shorter hours every week, be more productive, be more focused, and save money then this is when you should consider hiring a virtual assistant (VA) to help you out.
A virtual assistant is a remote independent contractor who can assist you with a variety of tasks in your business. You can hire a VA to help out monthly on a regular basis or outsource a one-time project for them to complete. You could hire a full-time employee that will require a large salary, work space, equipment, and benefits, or you can hire a virtual assistant for a set number of hours per month. When you outsource tasks to a virtual assistant, you can remove stress from your life and continue to grow your business.
Once you've thought about it and know you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, the next step to take is finding potential candidates. Like any other employee you might hire for your business there are steps to take before adding to your team:
- Their resume or portfolio will need to be reviewed.
- They’ll need to be interviewed.
- They’ll need to be able to complete the tasks you need help with.
Keep reading to learn about where to start your search when you're looking to find a virtual assistant that will fit your business needs (whether through companies like Delegated or Zirtual, or third party platforms like Upwork or Fiverr). We’ll include pros, cons, links, options, and how each option works. They're all broken into category rankings so you’ll easily be able to find the best hiring route to take based on your preference between ease, speed, cost, quality, and style.
Whether you need help with your shopify store, your real estate agency, or just want an administrative assistant to help handle more routine tasks and keep you organized and efficient -- there's a platform that's right for you to find your virtual personal assistant.
The Easiest Option: Online VA Agency
Why it's easiest:
The agency you pick will have a database full of experienced virtual assistants that will be reviewed to match to your business needs. For someone new to working with a VA and struggling to delegate, this option could make life even easier as it will be a bit more structured, you'll have someone trying to match you with a good VA for you, and they may have check-ins periodically to help guide your journey and ensure you're getting good value.
How it works:
- Review and select your plan based on number of hours needed per month.
- Pay a monthly fee to work with the agency.
- You’ll tell the agency about your business and what you are in need of help with. This will allow the agency to narrow down their database of virtual assistants to best suit your needs.
- You’ll meet your new virtual assistant (and potentially, your backup virtual assistant).
- Create a workflow with systems that works best for your business.
- Start outsourcing your tasks to your new virtual assistant during the contracted time availability of your assistant.
Pros: you save time since you aren’t searching or reviewing resumes, experienced virtual assistants that you don’t have to train, contracts are setup for you, if your current virtual assistant decides to leave or is sick the agency will have a back-up ready to help you, you’ll receive immediate assistance, management oversight is provided, 24 hour agency assistance, all United States based professionals, and only college-educated virtual assistants are hired. You can also pay by credit card, where options like Craigslist may not allow that.
Cons: you have to pay a monthly fee that will usually vary depending on the number of hours you need help with, you’ll have less control in the hiring and management process, and you are assigned a virtual assistant that you didn’t personally pick.
The Quickest Option: Online freelance platform
Why it's the quickest option:
The platform you choose will help make the process of matching a virtual assistant with your business much easier. You can quickly signup for an account and either list a job posting or search for a candidates profile already listed on the site. Most of these platforms will include a time-tracking feature, a chat feature, invoicing functionality, and built-in contracts.
How it works:
- Sign up for a free account online.
- Review and choose a specialized freelancer that match the skills you are requiring.
- Post a job description and start to get custom quotes.
- Pay only for the work you authorize and approve of.
Pros: speedy, affordable, easy to use, wide variety of services offered, more control in the hiring process, and review systems are set up to ensure the availability of quality assistants.
Cons: finding a virtual assistant can be time-consuming, and the quality of work is unknown.
- Upwork – has a large pool of freelancers to search through, with a wide variety of skill sets.
- Fiverr – this platform uses an a la carte system where there is no job posting or waiting for bids. The business owner searches through to find a virtual assistant who can accomplish exactly what they need done and you click the “buy now” button to hire them.
The Cheapest Option: Craigslist
Why it's the cheapest:
You never have to pay to list a job description on this site and you'll never have to pay to 'upgrade' your membership. You can post a job listing on the site for free or search for a post that a virtual assistant has listed describing the types of services they offer.
How it works:
- Search through the site using keywords that relate to what you need help with. You might search for the following terms: virtual assistant, social media management, remote, data entry, bookkeeping, graphic design, administrative tasks, etc.
- Post a job listing and wait to receive responses.
Pros: you can choose to search a wide variety of locations or you can narrow your search down to smaller local radius, you have control of the hiring and management process, and you don’t have to pay a middleman, you don't need to spend much time on google searching for companies or on freelance websites.
Cons: you have to be cautious of scammers, no satisfaction guarantees, can be time-consuming, and you might not find a virtual assistant who has the experience you need.
The Best Quality Option: Facebook Groups
Why it's the best quality option:
Joining a Facebook group with virtual assistants will allow you to hear from many potential candidates. There are numerous groups on Facebook that are dedicated entirely to connecting business owners with virtual assistant candidates. You can choose the group that best fits your needs and number of virtual assistants to find are almost endless if you go this route. You'll also have the added benefit of seeing posts describing the type of services a VA can offer. This might spark an idea of other ways you could use the help of an assistant.
How it works:
- Use your personal Facebook account to request to be added to virtual assistant networking groups.
- Review all of the guidelines that are required to be followed by the group, so you don’t get kicked out by violating them.
- Post a ‘for hire’ job listing with a description and instructions on how to contact you.
- Keep an eye out for virtual assistants posting about the services they offer so you can contact them if you’re interested.
Pros: you can view a potential candidates profile page, you can direct them on how to contact you (email, direct message, comment in the group, or phone call), you have control in the hiring and management process, and you don’t have to pay a middleman.
Cons: no satisfaction guarantees, and you’ll receive a ton of responses to sift through.
- Living the Laptop Life
- Virtual Assistant Savvies
- Virtual Assistant Tribe Job Board
- Virtual Assistant Jobs
- Freelancing Females
- Women Helping Women Entrepreneurs
The Most Professional Option: LinkedIn
Why it's the most professional option:
LinkedIn Jobs was created to help professionals be able to network with each other and connect job seekers with clients. You can review an applicants profile page which will act as their resume. Their page might include weblinks, past work history, education, skills & endorsements, testimonials, and much more.
How it works:
- Once you are in the jobs section you can click on ‘post a job’ to start creating a job posting.
- Use a pre-populated template to create your posting.
- Target your relevant candidates with promoted search results.
- Filter out applicants by the criteria that is important to you.
- Automatically reject applicants who don’t match your filtered requirements, so everyone hears back from you.
- Your budget can be adjusted at any time and you only pay if someone clicks on your job posting.
Pros: control in the hiring and management process, don’t have to pay a middleman (potentially lower hourly rates), and you can easily review potential candidates resumes.
Cons: no satisfaction guarantees, time-consuming to review, and no assurance that you’ll find someone who fits your business needs.
The Most Personal Option: Local Networking Groups
Why it's the most personal option:
By attending local events, workshops, groups, and seminars, you will be able to chat in person and potentially find a virtual assistant to help you out. If you are at an industry specific gathering, you will have the reassurance that the virtual assistant has a background and knowledge in your field.
How it works:
- Find an event near you and either RSVP if necessary or apply to join the group.
- Prepare yourself to talk about your business so everyone can get to know you.
- Bring your business card to hand out and ask for a potential virtual assistants’ information if you are interested in their services.
- Schedule follow-up calls with anyone you are interested in working with.
Pros: you are able to talk face-to-face, and you’ll find dedicated business professionals that are in your field.
Cons: lower chance of finding someone with the exact skill set you need, and slower process to hiring a virtual assistant
The Most Traditional Option: Job Search Websites
Why it's the most traditional:
If you were going to hire a full-time employee for your company, you would most likely start looking for potential candidates on a job search website. These sites will have all the tools set up for a business owner to easily review resumes or you can post a job listing for candidates to apply to.
How it works:
- Create an account on the job search website.
- Post a job listing with a description of what you are looking for help with.
- Depending on the website you will either be automatically be matched with potential candidate or you’ll wait to have applicants apply to your job posting.
- Review applicants and schedule a time to have an interview with potential candidates.
Pros: you have control in the hiring process, and there’s no middleman.
Cons: you have to wait for a candidate to apply, you have to spend time reviewing resumes, and depending on the site you might have to pay to post a job listing.
Your 2 options: using an agency, or hiring on your own
Overall, there are two general routes you can take depending on your preference, budget, time constraints and how much you want to be involved throughout the process.
- You can use an agency to hire and manage a virtual assistant for you.
- You can hire a virtual assistant freelancer on your own and manage them yourself.
You'll need to ask yourself: do you enjoy the recruitment, possible training, and management aspects of running a business, or would you rather have an agency handle all of this for you?
Making the best choice for you and your business
Finding a virtual assistant through each of the options listed above come with their own advantages and downsides. Before you make your selection on which route to take, be sure you have taken time to review your budget, availability to hire & manage, and what types of tasks you will be outsourcing. If you’re still unsure if you should be hiring a virtual assistant after taking time to reflect on your business goals, go read my article on why you should hire a virtual assistant.
If you're new to using a VA, a service like Delegated will allow you to have a very structured approach and easily test the waters, with experienced assistants who will be able to grow with you in this process. You'll have the guarantee that there will always be an assistant working for you when you need them.
If you're well versed with delegation and have used virtual assistants before, the quickest option may work well for you to get up and running - although a structured setup with a virtual assistant company like Delegated still provides plenty of benefits and broader options for you to chose from should your initial assistant not work out.