Whether you need someone to keep track of your personal or business stuff, help you with work-related matters, or do some specialized tasks, a virtual assistant is someone worth considering.


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Table of Contents


What is a Virtual Assistant?


Why you need a Virtual Assistant?


Important Skills and Traits of a Virtual Assistant


Where to Hire a Virtual Assistant?


Hiring Considerations


C9 Staff Virtual Assistants

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Strictly speaking, a virtual assistant is simply an assistant who’s not physically with you.

A virtual assistant does everything that a regular assistant does except tasks that require physical presence and action. Virtual assistants are mainly employed by entrepreneurs to help them with a variety of back-office and administrative tasks. However, professionals such as doctors and lawyers are known to employ virtual assistants as well.

A virtual assistant does not necessarily have to live overseas. You can be a real estate investor operating in Houston, Texas and have a virtual assistant that lives in Fort Worth, Texas. As long as your assistant does work for you or your business and does so without being physically present with you, that’s a virtual assistant. But for the purpose of this article, the usage of the term “virtual assistant” shall refer to offshore virtual assistants unless otherwise specified.

Virtual assistants used to encompass the entire gamut of professional and non-professional work performed offsite for businesses and entrepreneurs. Whether you have an offsite coder, copywriter, programmer, data specialist, data miner, customer service specialist, or meeting scheduler, as long as they’re working virtually, they’re all considered virtual assistants.

In recent years though, as the number of freelancing professionals increased, people who did specialized jobs broke away from the virtual assistant umbrella and started to prefer to be called by their specializations. So a web developer working virtually for a company is either a freelance web developer, an offshore web developer, an offsite web developer or simply a web developer.

People who do administrative and back-office jobs including data mining and appointment setting are now the only ones considered virtual assistants. Although such usage and application is more on the basis of preference than political correctness.

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Why you need a Virtual Assistant?

Employing a virtual assistant can save you a lot of money in terms of payroll and operational costs.

When you employ a traditional assistant, you’d normally have to negotiate a salary, benefits, and other incidental expenses. You’d also need to have a physical space for your assistant to work in. Even if you have your assistant work for you from your home, you’d still have to provide work equipment and the entire arrangement will still entail utility expenses. Overall, a regular assistant can set you back as much as $2,500 to $3,000 per month.

When you hire a virtual assistant, the negotiated rate is normally all-inclusive. A typical virtual assistant hired directly can cost anywhere between $700 to $1,500 per month depending on the experience level and task assignments. There are some cases where the virtual assistant will require internet and equipment subsidies which can be around $50 to $100 on top of the negotiated rate. So all things considered, it’s still way more inexpensive to hire a virtual assistant than a traditional one.

Virtual assistants nowadays can perform a variety of tasks it’s difficult to actually draw a line between what they can do versus what regular assistants can do – other than make you coffee to go with your bagels.

Gone are the days when all virtual assistants did were mundane tasks such as mine data, generate leads, and keep virtual file cabinets organized. Today, virtual assistants can do all sorts of high-end tasks such as setting up high-profile meetings and appointments, title company closings, virtual business presentations, sales, and other client-facing tasks.

For all intents and purposes, if you’re looking for someone who can perform administrative, back office, or other similar tasks, consider hiring a virtual assistant.

Important Skills and Traits of a Virtual Assistant

In order to be effective, a virtual assistant needs to possess the following skills and traits:

Excellent communication skills – a good virtual assistant has to communicate really well. This does not just entail being able to speak and understand English. This extends to understanding even non-verbal language. This may be a little challenging considering that the relationship is virtual, but this is not impossible. With constant communication and frequent interaction, a good virtual assistant will be able to pick up the small nuances of your management style and work habits, and be able to adapt accordingly.

Resourcefulness – not all tasks are clear-cut and specific. A good virtual assistant should be able to look at an unfamiliar task, determine its main purpose and objective, and create workflows and processes to achieve these.

Excellent organizational skills – a virtual assistant’s work arrangement is already quite complicated from the get go. A good virtual assistant must be organized, coordinated, and systematic. After all, the reason you’re getting an assistant (virtual or otherwise) is to make your life easier. There’s no point in getting one that will end up complicating things for you. 

Ability to adapt quickly – a good virtual assistant has to be able to adapt and conform to sudden changes and unforeseen developments when it comes to work.

Being receptive to new things – virtual assistants have to be open to the possibility of learning and adapting new strategies and workflows that may be different from what they’re used to.

Where to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

There are many virtual assistant hiring portals online. It’s only a matter of vetting and screening them as far as experience and capability are concerned.

The first thing you need to decide when deciding to hire a virtual assistant is whether you want to hire directly or through a recruitment service.

The advantages of hiring directly include:

  • Inexpensive – dealing directly with virtual assistants, provided you know where to find them, will always be less expensive.

  • You know what you want you can look for candidates yourself who meet your specific criteria.

  • Utmost flexibility you can hire and fire as virtual assistants as much as you like until you find the right one.

On the other hand, hiring local talent can have the following disadvantages:

  • Finding the right assistant can be challenging – this is especially true if it’s your first time to hire a virtual assistant.

  • It can get expensive and frustrating really quick – being able to hire and fire virtual assistants until you find the right one may be considered as an advantage, but it can also be disadvantageous over time if you fail to find your ideal assistant right away.

  • Management can be a hassle – managing a virtual assistant in itself is already a monumental task. You need to set up custom workflows and processes. You need to set up and payment method. You need a way to measure productivity and efficiency. You need a way to manage accountability. This is actually one element of this entire exercise that many employers find the most daunting and so a lot of them abandon the idea and just go back to using traditional assistants.

If you decide that direct hiring poses too much of a headache for you,

here are the advantages of hiring a virtual assistant through a recruitment or outsourcing service or company:

  • Access to a bigger pool of talents – a recruitment or outsourcing agency will have a bigger database of talented and skilled virtual assistants they can recommend to you based on your specific criteria.

  • They know what they’re looking for and where to look – it is the business of these companies to match your needs with the right virtual assistant. They have the experience and expertise to look at your list of requirements and pick someone who they believe will be a perfect match.

  • Less management problems – some virtual assistant recruitment agencies provide managed services where they manage the virtual assistant for you who, in turn, reports to you directly. You just pay these agencies a monthly rate, and they’ll take care of all the management stuff such as time-tracking, productivity tracking, accountability, and even payroll.

On the other hand,

here are the disadvantages of hiring a virtual assistant through a recruitment or outsourcing service or company:

  • More expensive than hiring directly – these companies make their money by doing stuff you would rather not do like finding, recruiting, vetting, screening, and hiring virtual assistants. So expect to pay a bit more for this service.

  • Contractual constraints – some of these agencies may require you to sign a contract stipulating that you need to use their service or employ the assistant they provide you for a minimum period of time. This can be a hassle if you have a sudden change of heart or if your circumstances suddenly and drastically change, as was the case during the pandemic.

That being said, here are a few places where you can find virtual assistants online. Note that in some of these websites, you’ll have the option to hire either locally or remotely. It’s all up to you, your needs and your budget:

Upwork (local and remote) – geared more towards the US market. You can post a virtual assistant job, and available contractors can start lining up to apply. All you’d need to do is choose the best candidate. This is a good place to look for either part-timers or full-time virtual assistants.

Fiverr (remote and local) – contractors already post their services and their fees upfront. However, there’s still room for negotiation once you’ve touched base with a contractor. This is your best choice for one-off projects.

People Per Hour (remote and local) – geared more towards the European market. Just like Upwork, you post a job and contractors will apply. You can choose the best candidate and go from there. This is also a good place to look for either part-timers or full-time virtual assistant.

C9 Staff (remote) – specializes in providing remote staffing services from a global pool of talents spread across 35 top international labor markets. It is considered a concierge service where you don’t simply hire a virtual assistant (or any other kind of remote worker for that matter), you hire a virtual assistant with an entire management service behind him to keep him accountable and always on his toes. This is ideal for people looking to hire the best and expecting to get the best while keeping costs relatively competitive.

Hiring Considerations

When looking to hire a virtual assistant, whether it be local or remote, there are a few important considerations you have to keep in mind.

Is this your first time to work with a virtual assistant? If it is, do you already have possible workflows worked out or do you need help creating them? Do you plan to integrate your virtual assistant into an existing team? Or do you intend to build a team around your virtual assistant?

Do you need just one virtual assistant or several? Maybe you need an entire team of virtual assistants.

Is it going to be a one-off project or do you have a series of projects in your pipeline?

Next, what level of experience or proficiency would you like your virtual assistant to have? What abilities should they possess? Would you be okay with someone who can just manage back-office and other administrative stuff? Or do you require someone with client-facing skills?

Finally, how much do you have to spend? Do you have just enough for a one-off deal? Is your pocket deep enough for a part-time or even a full-time recruit? Are you ready to spend good money on a senior-level virtual assistant salary or is your budget pointing towards a mid-level one?

Why C9 Staff Virtual Assistants Rock

Here at C9 Staff, we have virtual assistants in all levels of proficiency. Whether you need a mid-level one (with 1-3 years experience) or a senior level one (with 4 years experience or more), we have a virtual assistant that fits your needs.