As more and more companies are looking for cost-effective alternatives to streamline their operations and to get their complex and critical tasks completed by experts, the field of virtual assistance continues to expand, bringing new career opportunities for individuals. If you are looking to explore a career option as a virtual assistant (VA), you should be aware of the tasks that VAs are commonly required to handle so that you can be aware of your capabilities and whether you should develop special skills in order to be able to land your dream job. As a VA, you may required to handle various backend jobs such as responding your client’s customer-queries, making arrangements for his travel, handling your client’s bookkeeping tasks, or taking part in his/her day-to-day administrative operations. Your clients would need you to take care of their mundane tasks so that they can utilize their productive times in more useful ways and to handle more critical tasks successfully. You may also be required to provide customer support service in multiple languages. This article would guide you on the skills that you would need to develop in order to specialize in certain areas of activities. Read through as we walk you through every section to let you know how to become a virtual assistant and what does a virtual assistant do so that you can make an informed choice.
So who is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a professional who delivers various types of services, from scheduling appointments to running personal errands to performing digital marketing, from a remote location. Notably, a virtual assistant is also referred to as a remote executive assistant.
A list of tasks that you can assign to your VA
As an entrepreneur, you may face challenges with regard to staffing and assigning work. You may consider hiring VAs from reputed companies so that you can just sit back and relax, knowing that your tasks are taken care of by people who have relevant experience that your tasks demand. But what tasks can you confidently assign to your VA? We have identified 7 common tasks out of 101 tasks that are efficiently handled by remote workers:
You need access to valuable data that is related to your competitors or to new developments in the industry that you operate in. You also need the information to know your clients better and to find ways to boost your sales and devise appropriate growth strategies. VAs can help you with research work and they can even help you plan your travel by conducting comparisons of hotel rates, designing your itineraries, and recommending food joints.
Data Entry and Processing Related Tasks
Data is power and you need vital business data to be accurately entered into databases and analyzed properly so as to gain important insights about the market trends. You need an accurate analysis of your data in order to find ways to get your operations streamlined. VAs specializing in the area of data analytics can convert numbers into meaningful information thereby allowing you to make important decisions. They can even capture critical data by performing product-related research or while delivering customer support service.
Handling hundreds of emails on a daily basis may jeopardize your schedule and may consume a major chunk of your time and energy while preventing you from completing critical tasks. You can assign the email management task to a VA who would regularly check your inbox and respond to your clients’ complaints and queries. You will need to set up guidelines at first, but once your VA gets acquainted with your procedures, he/she will become efficient and save a lot of your productive time. Your VA would forward your messages to respective departments, respond to simple questions himself/herself, and save crucial emails for you to allow you to review it personally.
You may also choose to delegate your personal tasks to your VA. These may be tasks that would demand personalized approaches. For instance, you may ask your VA to send handwritten gratitude letters to your acquaintances. Your VA can even manage the delivery of flowers and gifts.
Calendar Management and Scheduling
Calendar management is a crucial task if you have a busy, stressful schedule that can easily make you feel puzzled about your commitments. You can hire a VA to handle calendar management on your behalf. A VA can schedule appointments with your clients, organize sales meetings, and carry out high-level event planning activities. VAs can help you stay organized at all times.
Your VA can help you gain and maintain a strong social media presence. Hire a VA who has extensive social media management experience. You should let your VA clearly know your guidelines and what content they should post to portray your brand’s voice in the desired manner. You should let them know what they should post and what they should not post. You can even engage him/her for social media research to find out the latest trends and industry news. You can then share these updates via various corporate accounts. You can connect with industry influencers too to broaden your network.
Some VAs have high level of content writing expertise. They may even have WordPress expertise and can publish your blog posts daily on your behalf. Some are capable of creating videos and infographics. You can even outsource your digital marketing tasks to remote SEO professionals working in another company in another country. Your VA can write impressive posts and contribute to your online marketing objectives. Your VA can also promote your brand through social media channels, influencer outreach programs, and email campaigns.
Whether you are looking for data entry, online marketing, or research assistance, hiring a VA at the best industry rates is your best possible solution. In case, you are not fully confident with the work arrangement, you may consider hiring a VA on a part-time basis. This would allow you to understand if you can hire them on a full-time basis in the long run.
Qualities that a Virtual Assistant Possesses
You would come across several potential virtual assistants, but you should make sure that you are hiring the most suitable candidate who can perform your tasks most suitably. Here’s what you should look for in a candidate:
Your candidate should have high level of English proficiency. Ideally, the candidate should have a near-native proficiency to speak or write in English. The candidate’s speaking ability can be judged from a phone interview whereas his/her writing ability can be evaluated from the emails or live chats that you engage in.
Your candidate should be someone who would respond to your queries in a timely manner. Your candidate should be proactive and should exercise prudence to ensure that your operations run smoothly.
Attention To Detail
Your candidate should adopt an attention-to-detail approach in whatever they do in order to avoid costly mistakes. This is difficult to evaluate especially if your candidate resides in a different country. However, after working with an assistant for a certain period of time, you would get to know if your assistant fulfills this criteria.
Your assistant should demonstrate high levels of integrity and do their best to protect your confidential data at all costs. Your assistant should adopt strict measures while handling your sensitive information and should follow your company’s policies sincerely.
If you are looking to hire India-based assistants, you should understand that you have to take into account time differences. Your assistant should remain available during your work shift. You should make this point clear while signing up with any of the virtual assistant services.
Proficiency in Using Project Management Software
You should let your employees use cutting-edge software tools that can streamline your operations and make your lives easier. Your assistants should be able to handle modern project management software. Your employee should be able to efficiently work with Skype, Dropbox, Slack, Google Apps, etc. They should also show high level of interest in learning about new software.
3 top reasons Why You Need A Virtual Assistant
More and more businesses are seeking virtual assistance and here are the three top reasons why you may want to hire a virtual staff:
Utilize Your Employees Better
Suppose you are in a mid-level or a senior-level managerial position and you need to prepare daily reports and actively participate in the proper implementation of growth strategies. Typically, you are most likely to take more interest in the latter task rather than in the mundane daily routine-task. But you cannot afford to neglect this routine task because it is related to keeping an account of your company’s finances. You can hire virtual assistants who can dedicatedly support you by performing this mundane task day after day with full focus.
Outsourcing is associated with reduced cash outlays. You can pay outsourced staff at an hourly rate without having to pay salaries month on month to full-time in-house staff. Secondly, you can avoid the costs of training when you hire offshore staff. Training in-house staff may prove to be a costly business. On the other hand, when you hire remote staff, you get to work with already-trained and experienced staff who have strong expertise in their area of specialization. This way, you can utilize the assistance of expert staff directly without having to waste money and time on training.
Time is money and as a business owner, you must be aware of this fact. You will definitely not want to engage your employees to spend hours on hiring candidates at entry-level positions. But when you hire remote staff, you can skip all these steps as you get access to verified experts in very less time. Secondly, these people have developed expertise in their fields, they can quickly deliver outcomes.
So what criteria should you consider to hire a virtual assistant? In this article, we will give you a few guidelines as to how you can find suitable virtual assistants who can do your job efficiently.
Your Virtual Assistant Finding Guide
We would discuss how you can find qualified virtual assistants in India, but before that, we would like to walk you through the general tips that you should apply to hire outsourced candidates:
Look for recommendations in your network. Take recommendations from trusted colleagues more seriously. You may find a reliable service provider. In case you do not get any recommendation, you can check reviews and testimonials online. Although it may not seem personal, but you can still develop an idea about the reputation of a particular service provider.
When you look for a virtual assistant service provider online, you should make sure that the site where you are searching for virtual assistants is genuine and reputed.
Offer Fair Rates
Remote staff who would offer you cheaper rates might not provide quality service. So you should not base your selection on cost alone. Go for people who ask for industry-standard rates. When you hire a virtual assistant from India, you should pay a little more to get the best talent in your task-domain. You can engage through various models, for example, you can pay by the hour or the task or you may go for a retainer model. But you should offer a fair rate.
Evaluate Resumes and Demand a Sample
Your chosen candidate should give you his/her resume and his writing sample. You should check the resume thoroughly to see if the candidate has relevant experiences and qualifications that are needed to fulfill your requirements. The writing sample will help you evaluate his/her communication skills especially if your job involves communicating with clients over live chat or emails.
Go for a Trial
You may want to check if a chosen candidate can really address your task requirements. So you can sign up for a small trial task and check service and outcome quality. If the candidate performs well, you can hire him/her. You can even go for a paid one-month trial and check for consistency. If the results are satisfactory, you can sign up for a long-term contract.
Evaluate Communications Over the Phone
Your candidate may be required to communicate with you and your clients over the phone. To evaluate his/her verbal communication skills, you may set up a telephonic interview. With this you will be able to evaluate their phone connections, language proficiency, and approachability.
You may consider contacting a referred candidate’s previous clients to check their track records and to know about their work ideology and character.
You should conduct tests such as online proficiency tests to understand if your selected candidate possesses the skills that he/she needs to perform your tasks successfully.
For example, if your virtual assistant is going to be doing a lot of typing, then you need to make sure they can type quickly in English. For example, if you want to evaluate a candidate’s typing skills and speed, you should take a typing test online.
Recruiting a virtual assistant is all about getting specialists’ support and getting your work done more efficiently, in a more cost-effective manner. Remote executive assistance from a reputed virtual assistant company can be your best solution provided you are able to identify the best service provider. When you remain diligent during the hiring process and pay attention to minute details, you can end up recruiting the best talents from India. Hiring virtual assistants from India is a great option in terms of cost effectiveness, knowledge and skills of the staff, and time zone differences, which can save you a lot of time. We wish you all the best for your virtual assistant search process and we hope that this article is a useful resource for you.