Five things to ask before you accept a virtual assistant job

Posted on Sep 20, 2017 by admin

Because it can be so difficult to land your dream virtual assistant position, it can be all too easy to accept the first offer that comes up. But don’t be too hasty. That virtual assistant job might not actually be the best fit. There are more people looking for such positions than there are actual positions, so it’s little wonder why you would be excited to hurriedly email back a big “YES!” But what happens if that job actually doesn’t suit your requirements? Or you didn’t read the fine print?

Below are five things to ask before you say yes to that new job.

1. What are the hours?

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of working all hours of the day and night. After all, a virtual assistant position gives you the freedom to work the hours you want to work, at a time that suits you. But what do you do when those hours don’t suit your employer? Or they’re asking you to work all hours of the day and night, and be on call for even more?

You have to make sure this job fits into your current lifestyle. Even though you may be more productive at night, or during the day, your potential new boss might have a different idea. There’s a common misconception that to become a virtual assistant, you are entitled a certain amount of freedom. This is actually not true. Although such a career gives you the freedom to work from the comfort of your own home, it doesn’t always allow you to work your own hours.

While many virtual assistant positions involve finances, accounting and data input, some are a little more involved. This may mean you actually aren’t free to pick up the kids from school at 3pm, or take them to sports at 4pm. It actually may mean you’re working a 9 to 5 desk job, just without the company of other office workers.

Find out from your potential new employer what the restrictions are around your working hours, and whether you’re required to work more than those hours assigned as well.

2. Will I need to supply my own software and/or programs?

Although it’s widely not acceptable, some employers may require you to purchase your own software or programs in order to complete the work. While Microsoft products used to be largely installed on new computers before you purchased them, that is now not the case. You now have to purchase them outright, or on a yearly subscription. If you don’t currently use or own them but you’re required to use them for your new job, you need to work out who foots the bill. And what about that expensive accounting software? If you’re using cloud or desktop-based accounting software, who pays for that? In most cases, this is up to the employer to provide his or her staff with all the tools of the job, but it can depend on the person, business and situation. For overseas-based virtual assistants, it’s assumed they will have their own software to complete the job. However, if you’re working for a local business, you may need to ask the question. Alarm bells can ring when you’re spending money to make money, as an employee.

3. What is the payment structure?

Don’t be fooled into thinking all virtual staffing positions operate under the same payment structure. Find out how your potential new boss intends on paying you.

Potential pay structures can include:

  • By the hour, using time-tracking software.
  • Per job
  • Fixed term contract – wherein the employer chooses the term and the hourly rate.

You don’t want to work for nothing, but you also don’t want to go through a whole lot of trouble to secure the job, knowing it’s for a very fixed term.

Some employers don’t outline the payment structure in the initial job application, therefore it’s important you know the right questions to ask. There could be nothing more disheartening than starting a job, and realising the pay doesn’t suit your expectations or your needs.

become a virtual assistant

4. Is it a scam?

Unfortunately, for as many legitimate jobs out there, there are just as many scams. There are ways to know whether the position you applied for is a scam or not, but those listing the jobs are becoming more and more professional.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. However, even the best virtual assistant can fall for an elaborate scam. So how do you spot one?

1.  You are being sent an interview request from a business you never applied for in the first place. This is why it pays to keep a record of all the virtual assistant positions you have applied for. As your details could be on a job seeker’s platform, anyone can have access to them with the right know-how. If you keep track of all the jobs you applied for, you will have a better chance of spotting a scam.

2. The email comes from a general web browser email address such as ‘@yahoo’ or ‘@hotmail’ etc.  Although some businesses still don’t have their own business email address, the ones looking for virtual assistants likely will.

3. They don’t address you by name. If it sounds like a mass email, it most likely is.

4. They ask you to hold, move, pay or accept money. This is not how a brand new virtual assistant job comes about. A business owner will not ask you to hold money for them, nor will they ask you to move it, pay it or accept it. The only time money would change hands is when you are being paid for work you have completed.

5. Who is my support person?

It can be daunting to start work in a new position, for a new business. It can be even more so when you’re not able to meet with the business owners and staff to get a feel for how things run. Therefore, you need to know there’s someone there you can talk to for advice. Preferably, this would be the business owner, an instore accounts person or even another VA who’s worked with the business for some time. Regardless of who they are, you will need someone who is familiar with the business to help you when needed. There’s no quicker way to become unhappy in your work, than to feel like you’re drowning and there’s no one there to help.

So, before you accept what could very well be your dream virtual job, make sure you ask all the right questions. Have you accepted a job without knowing all the ins and outs? Did you find out anything later that didn’t quite suit? We want to hear your stories, so get in touch!

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