A professional virtual assistant works from a home office to provide technical, administrative, or creative assistance to his or her clients. The skills of a professional virtual assistant vary greatly, from having no education outside of mandatory schooling to having multiple advanced degrees or years of experience in the client’s field. This kind of assistant differs from traditional secretaries or on-site assistants because the client is usually not required to offer benefits, give vacation leave, or pay taxes related to the assistant’s employment. Assistants are hired in various ways, including through middle men and by directly approaching potential assistants on the Internet.
There are virtual assistants available for most fields of work, including duties related to real estate and entrepreneurial work. For example, a professional virtual assistant might be trained to follow up on leads. A lot of assistants deal with email on a daily basis, but phone calls and video chats are common too. Some assistants work best when given a straightforward job to do, like giving generic responses to leads or keeping track of a client’s schedule. Others are more flexible and can negotiate deals on a client’s behalf or make large purchases without needing permission from the client.
Anyone with an Internet connection can become a professional virtual assistant, no matter their education or skills. Of course, well-educated people with in-demand skills are more likely to be successful. For example, even basic knowledge of blogging or the ability to digitally manipulate photos can help assistants stand out from the crowd and get hired. In addition, these people have less competition and can charge higher prices. Assistants with little to no education and few valuable skills are often competing with thousands of other people, many of whom sell themselves better or request less money per hour.
People usually hire virtual assistants in one of three ways: through a company that manages the entire relationship, through an outsourcing intermediary who handles the contract and payments, or by directly approaching potential employees. Hiring a professional virtual assistant through a management company is typically the most expensive method, but the company often provide advantages, such as a replacement assistant in the the event of sickness or termination. Furthermore, an intermediary can make forming a contract simple without as many extra fees. Directly forming a relationship with a professional virtual assistant can be the cheapest method of hiring, but often the most complicated.