Getting the Best Virtual Assistant is Important. How Do You Conduct a Successful Virtual Staffing Job Interview?

When a position has opened up within your business or company, you now must go through the processes of looking for that perfect replacement. But did you know that finding the right person for the job can ultimately come down to how you conduct the interview? Not everyone is as they seem in an interview. It’s your job to find the real person beneath that nervous exterior.

Below are some great tips on how to conduct a successful virtual staffing job interview.

Prepare your questions based on your requirements

As you’ve now reached the interview stage, you will have a good idea of how your potential new staff members meet your exact requirements. On paper, they seem like the real deal. However, you will now need to ascertain whether they fit the bill as the person they claim to be. At this point, you should be basing your questions largely around the job description your applicants will have read. Find out how exactly they meet your requirements.

For example, you asked for someone who could work on their own and as part of a team. So, your question should be: in the past, how have you worked well on your own, and as part of a team? Do you have examples?

If you also asked for someone who had experience leading a team, a good question would be: how did you know you were successful in leading a team?

By using the word ‘how’, it becomes an open-ended question which requires much explanation. You don’t want people to say they are something but not follow it up with proof. Your applicants need to back their statements up with past examples. The best virtual assistant is one who can confidently and accurately provide real life examples that show their skillset.

Make your applicant feel at ease

It can be difficult to break through the nervy exterior of a potential applicant. After all, this entire interview could help them become a virtual assistant, or it could not. It’s a nerve-wracking process. You can help your applicant feel at ease by providing them with a list of things prior to their interview that will help them in the process.

This could include:

 

  • The topics going to be covered – this can reduce their stress levels if they know the exact questions and topics being covered in the interview. It can also help them prepare better.
  • Providing them with the names of the people who are going to be interviewing them. This can help them become more familiar with your workplace.
  • Informing them about the need to undertake an example task to show their skillset.

 

These simple things could help you see your applicant for the person they really are, not a nervous wreck with temporarily poor social skills.

 

Provide real life situations for the applicant to find solutions for

Anyone can lie on their resume. You could be a scientist, or a doctor or an astronaut. Anyone can be anything in written form. But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. In order to know whether your applicant is really up to the job, provide them with a task. This has become common practice in several industries. Within the food industry, chefs are often asked to prepare a meal. In journalism, applicants need to write a story. In graphic design, applicants are asked to create a flyer or a brochure. If you can’t do virtual administrative assistant tasks in the job interview, how can you do it in the actual job?

Actions speak louder than words.

Have no more than three staff members present

As the main interviewer, you need to make sure it’s not just you that likes a potential applicant. You alone should not determine whether a staff member is fit for a virtual staffing position within your company. This is why it’s important to have 1-2 other staff members present to help you make an informed decision. This could include your boss, and potentially someone that has to work with that person. It pays to include no more than two other people as this can not only overwhelm the applicant, but it can also take longer to come to a decision on who to choose.

Find out about the applicant

Finding out about the applicant is not only for your benefit, but for the applicant as well. There’s no better way to make an applicant feel at ease than by asking them to talk about themselves, their hobbies and their passions. This is an opportunity for them to talk about something other than a job. It’s also an opportunity for you to find out who they are in a social capacity. Do they enjoy sports? Do they like gardening or reading or movies? When a person talks about their passions, they are often able to break free of their professional restraints to become a very relatable person, just like you. This can help relieve the tension substantially.

Take your time

There’s no need to rush interviews, people know they take a while and expect it. Don’t feel under pressure to make it short and sweet. You need to ask the applicant as many questions as possible in order to find that one person who will fit into the dynamics of your workplace with ease. Many job interviews for virtual staffing positions take, on average, 90 minutes to two hours. This is plenty of time to ascertain whether someone is fit for the role or is not. You should also factor in more time if your applicant is to undertake a task during the interview. This in itself can add on an additional 30 minutes to one hour. You want them to feel as comfortable as possible in an unfamiliar environment, even if it is virtual.

 

Have you conducted a job interview for a virtual staffing position? How did you know an applicant was ‘the one’? We would love to hear your special tips and tricks for conducting the perfect job interview.

5 Ways to Impress in a Virtual Staffing Job Interview

There are never any guarantees that any job interview – whether you do well in it or not – will land you the job. Sometimes, there’s just someone more qualified and suitable for the position. However, you can greatly increase your chances of landing that dream job, all by being prepared and knowing how best to present yourself.

It doesn’t matter whether your job is over Skype or in person – for a virtual staffing position or in a physical location; every interview technique counts. Within this article, we will show you five ways you can impress in a virtual staffing job interview.

Research the business

Believe it or not, plenty of people turn up to job interviews not knowing much about the business they could be working for. This potentially could be the biggest mistake you could make in a job interview. If you’ve reached the interview stage for a virtual assistant position, you need to ensure you know as much as you can about the business. It doesn’t matter if your interview is on Skype or in person, the same rules apply.

When researching the business, you need to know:

  • A brief history of the business – how long it has been around for.
  • What products and services the business offers – including any leading brands.
  • How big the team is.
  • Who you will be answering to if you are successful in your bid for the job.
  • Who the general manager, CEO or owner is.
  • The message, morals or values the business stands for.
  • What your job description is – what you would be doing within the company if you are successful.

Without basic knowledge about the business or company, you run the risk of not being able to answer a question, or being able to provide examples of how your skill set can benefit the business.

One of the main questions asked in any job interview is “what is our business all about?”

Failure to answer this can ultimately see your name scratched off the list of potential employees.

Dress to impress

It doesn’t matter if your interview is via video or in person, you should always dress to impress. However, it pays to know the kind of role you will be working in. This can ultimately help you decide on your attire. You don’t want to dress for a formal occasion, but you do want to dress how you generally would in an office environment.

For men:

  • Tidy facial hair
  • A dress shirt
  • Dress pants
  • Dress shoes
  • A casual/formal jacket
  • Cologne (not too strong)

For women:

  • Tidy hairstyle – avoid wearing it out if it’s windy on your way to the interview
  • Dress pants or a tidy skirt or dress
  • A dress shirt
  • Blazer
  • Basic jewellery and/or a light layer of makeup
  • Perfume (not too strong)

Smile

The best virtual assistant is one who can smile and make clients feel at ease. So where better to present your smiley disposition than at your first interview? First impressions do count, and if you’re sporting a scowl that could scare off a wild animal, you more than likely will not land the job.

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, scary and overwhelming at best. But you can’t let that show. As the old saying goes: fake it ‘til you make it.

Plant the smile on your face before you meet with the interviewer and try to believe it. Fortunately, many business owners or heads of department are aware of how daunting a job interview can be. Some counteract this by making the interview process relaxing, and sometimes even humorous. That can help you provide a genuine smile – not one that’s masking genuine terror.

Unfortunately, many people lose out on jobs purely because they didn’t let their personality shine through. Although it can be hard to do so in unfamiliar territory, you have to remind yourself that a change in facial expression can be all it takes to land that virtual administrative assistant position.

Be aware of your body language

When you’re feeling nervous, angry, sad, or happy, your body can do some weird and wonderful things. The most important thing is to be aware of those quirks, and ensure they aren’t prominent in a job interview! For example, if you’re feeling unsure or nervous (as you would in a job interview), you can often fold your arms without realizing you’re doing it. Unfortunately, folded arms are often seen as being closed off emotionally, guarded or unwilling to be open. You may only be feeling nervous, but it can be perceived in a totally different way. Some people play with their face or hair when they’re feeling nervous. Although you only feel nervous, it can present you as someone who is flighty, dithery, too relaxed or uninterested in the job.

The same can be said for those who pick their nails, tap their feet, play with their sleeves or flail their arms about unnecessarily. Although they’re all signs that you’re nervous, they also just don’t put you in a good light. This is why you need to be aware of what you’re doing.

To counteract bad body language, you can:

  • Cross your legs to avoid tapping your feet.
  • Clasp your hands together on your knees or legs to avoid fiddling with clothing, hair or your face.
  • Use your hands to show expression when you speak.
  • Choose a position within the room (if applicable) that can hide any weird body movements. If there’s a table, choose the side opposite the interviewer.

Say Yes

There are two things you should be saying ‘yes’ to in the job interview, aside from being asked if you want the job! Firstly, you should be saying ‘yes’ to a drink. Whether it’s water, tea, or coffee, it can give you something to do with your hands. It can also be used strategically. If you’re struggling to answer a question, take a sip in order to buy time to come up with an answer. This can help avoid awkward silences. If you’re generally the kind of person who can’t finish a full cup of tea or coffee and don’t want to be rude, opt for water. If you think you will need to use the bathroom midway through the interview if you say yes to a drink, once again, opt for water.

Secondly, you should be saying yes to the interviewer if they ask if you have any questions for them. Even if you have gone through your job description with a fine-tooth comb and everything has been answered, try to come up with something anyway.

Failure to ask questions can reflect poorly. It can make the interviewer believe you’re not interested in finding out more.

If you’re stuck for questions, here are some basic options:

  • What do you see for the future of this company or business?
  • If successful, will I be getting handover from someone in this position before me?
  • Is this a new position?
  • When does the successful applicant find out whether they get the job?
  • How many staff members make up your team?

Job interviews can be overwhelming and sometimes downright terrifying. But they don’t have to be.

Are you an interviewer? What do you expect from people you are interviewing? Have you had a nightmare of a job interview? If you’ve got an interview experience to share, we would love to hear about it! Get in touch!

5 Ways Your Virtual Assistant Can Increase Your Social Media Presence

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There’s certainly money to be made in social media. But how many businesses are actually taking full advantage of this? How many business owners are factoring social media management into their daily task list in order to make sure it provides a steady stream of income? Very few. Essentially, large corporates and big businesses with dedicated marketing staff make up the majority of businesses reaping the rewards of social media.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s the big leagues. It simply means small businesses don’t have the time to pay as much attention to the social media side of their business as they would have liked. Their budget may stretch to sponsored ads, but it may not stretch to a full-time marketing person. That’s where virtual assistants come in. They can take complete control of your social media account to widen your market share.

Below are five ways your virtual assistant can increase your social media presence. It’s time to throw your business into the digital age and stay current.

They can organise sponsored ads and boost posts, ads and promotions

Businesses and organisations that provide ecommerce website services and virtual assistants can most certainly help with your sponsored advertising on social media. While many businesses choose to leave their business exposure on social media up to chance, you generally do have to spend money to make money. This is where a virtual assistant becomes invaluable.

Choosing a virtual assistant who specialises in social media marketing can make all the difference to your business. This is because they understand how best to accurately portray your business on the internet, and how to get the best responses from advertising. A good virtual assistant will organise posts, promotions and ads in order to market to your preferred audience.

This includes:

  • Running competitions for specific products used by customers in order to gain a valuable audience.
  • Running adverts for particular products to boost their popularity.
  • Running general advertisements that will give your customers a better idea of what products and services you offer.

virtual assistant

They can find out what your competition is doing

If your business is on social media, no doubt your competitors will be as well. The aim of the game is to provide a level of service that can be considered on par – or better – than that of your competitor. The best way to find out how your competitor is doing in the market with their products and services is by following them on social media.

However, it can be difficult for a business owner to follow a fellow business owner without making it too obvious. This is where virtual staffing is so beneficial. Because you aren’t following the business, your VA is, and that is where you are essentially tracking your competition in the stealthiest way possible.

They can draft post ideas and put them into practice

Every business owner knows how important it is to be on social media, but the actual implementation of regular posting can be difficult. How do you know where to begin? How do you know what to post? Website promotion services can help you. They can draft post ideas as well as put them into practice. It’s as easy as allowing a VA to research your business, find out what you offer and put together a list of ideas to turn into posts for the daily or weekly publication on your newsfeed.

Research shows that people like to see businesses post once to three times a day. Ensure you have enough posts for a consistently active social media account.

They can free up your time

As a business owner, there is a lot to take care of. You need to manage your staff, your products, your services, and almost everything that goes on within your business. Sometimes you’re that busy that you forget to plan for the future – the technological future. Social media can often be the last thing on the mind of a business owner. But it’s very important you stay on top of it. Over 17 million Australians are active on Facebook, and that’s just one social media avenue. That is a huge market to tap into, and one that can end up being your biggest source of revenue. Do you really want to miss that opportunity?

A virtual assistant can free up your time by taking care of it for you. Believe it or not, knowing someone else is organising that side of your business can take a lot of weight off your mind.

virtual assistant

They can give you a stronger online presence which increases brand recognition

With millions of active social media users in Australia and worldwide, it’s important you get on the bandwagon immediately. It’s not enough to say you will get around to it, you need to take action now. Social media is not a fad that’s around for a little while, it’s an ever-evolving and expanding platform that’s essentially a goldmine for businesses.

Initially, you need to spend money to make money, and there’s where paying for ads comes in. However, with time and depending on what you’re offering, your audience will build. By using the right tools, you can build your brand recognition exponentially to the point where people will instantly think of your business when they require a product or service you sell. Just a decade ago, this would have been unknown.

If technology has evolved this quickly in order to increase brand recognition, imagine what the future holds? The time to act is now.

Are you a business owner who has hired a VA purely for social media? How has it worked for you? Are you a virtual assistant in charge of managing a business social media page? How have you turned it around for them? We love hearing success stories so get in touch!

5 Ways to Switch Off at the End of the Day as a Virtual Assistant

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In a traditional 9-to-5 job, it’s far easier to switch off at the end of the working day. You can simply turn off your computer, leave the office, and essentially leave all your work-related problems behind. As a virtual assistant, it can be much harder. Your home is your office, and switching from ‘work’ mode into ‘home’ mode is a far more complicated process.

However, with a few simple changes in your habits such as those listed below, you can switch off with as much ease as your office worker counterparts.

Get strict with your working day

When you give up your 9-to-5 office job for the convenience and flexibility of a virtual assistant position, it can feel like a dream come true. After all, you can now work in your pyjamas, take care of daily errands, and work on your own hours.

However, after a few weeks – or months – in your new position, you may find that those benefits are enabling you to get into bad working habits. You could be working more hours than before, your home life could be blending into your work life, and you’re going above and beyond for your virtual employer more than you would normally.

So, what do you do? You get strict with your working day. The first thing to do is to remind yourself that your entire working day should be exactly as it is if you were working in an office environment. That means you should get up at a normal working time, shower, put office clothes on, and head to your ‘office’ for work by 9am. Morning tea should be taken at 10am, lunch at 12pm, and afternoon tea at 3pm. Then, once your work is completed, you can end the working day at 5pm.

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours with a loose schedule when you become a virtual assistant. Get strict with yourself and notice the difference in your home/work life balance.

virtual assistant

Leave your problems ‘at the office’

Unfortunately, there have been many cases of strained relationships due to one – or both – parties working from home. While the convenience is something both you and your significant other will enjoy, the close confines and work problems can start overtaking your personal life. When there’s no ‘switch off’ time, how can you stop talking about work? While it’s important and healthy for any couples to talk about their problems, consider whether your work problems are worth the breath. Will it affect your life? Will this work problem matter in a week or a month’s time? If not, don’t let it cause a rift in your home life.

The best virtual assistant is one who can leave their problems in their ‘office’. This means that as soon as you remove yourself from the computer chair, you’re no longer at work. You ‘go home’, you cook dinner, do household chores and talk generally about your day. The last thing your significant other wants is to see you upset and stewing over a work problem that doesn’t matter.

Don’t let work problems take over

As a virtual assistant, you have both the best and the worst job in the world. You can attend your children’s school meetings and sports games and you can take care of daily errands you’d otherwise struggle to complete. You can save on travel time and fuel by working from the comfort of your home.

But because you have no defining line between work life and home life, your work problems can easily take over. Below are a few ways to recognise this problem.

You could be:

  • Avoiding going out in case you miss valuable information from your employer.
  • Checking your emails/message outside of working hours to make sure nothing’s missed.
  • Working long hours to stay on top of your workflow.
  • Starting earlier and finishing later.
  • Becoming irritable, on-edge and generally unhappy.
  • Checking your phone constantly when you’re out with family and friends.
  • Cancelling meal plans with friends and family to avoid the stress of being away from work.

If you find that you’re doing any of these things, something needs to change. Take a minute to think about what your work is doing to your home life and put a plan in place. Make sure to always set time aside for yourself and your family.

become a virtual assistant

Get a hobby

If you struggle to know when to end the working day with so much work to get done, a hobby can most certainly help. While the timing may not seem perfect with work piling up by the second, you need to think of yourself as well. If the work can wait until the following working day, then let it. It’s important you maintain a healthy work/life balance.

This is where getting a hobby becomes such an important thing to do. If you can choose something you’re interested to take part in after working hours, there’s every reason you should. It means that you have a reason to leave the house, get out of your comfort zone and take part in something outside of yourself.

Why not join a sports team that meets for practice once or twice a week after work? Or even something a little milder like a book club? It’s important for your mental health to have the ability to switch off in order to move your mindset from work onto something you’re interested in.

You will not only come home in a better frame of mind, but it will give you a sense of freedom and a new-found social life. Don’t lose your social skills or your friends just because you work from your home.

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Evaluate

When you struggle to switch off at the end of the day within a virtual staffing position and it’s affecting your home life, all is not lost. There is so much you can do to get that work/life balance back. However, if you’re finding that you’re genuinely unhappy with the situation and you can see no way out, it’s time to make a change.

Not everyone is cut out for being a virtual assistant but if you work at it, you can achieve the perfect balance at home.

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Below are a few things you can do before you decide it’s not for you.

  • Hire a chair in a communal office space.
  • Reduce your hours.
  • Delegate your workload.
  • Talk to your employer about how you’re feeling.
  • Find a less-demanding virtual assistant position.
  • Rearrange your office for a better sense of order and organisation.

When you’re a virtual assistant, you hold a very beneficial position. There are so many advantages to such a role, but there are just as many hurdles to overcome. Have you struggled to end your day on a high? How did you get your work/life balance back? We’d love to hear your tips and tricks.

 

How Mobile Phones Make the Best Virtual Assistant

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Do you remember when it was company policy in many workplaces to leave your mobile phone in your bag or locker? And if you ever answered your mobile phone, you could be faced with a reprimand? These days, many employees – both virtual and physical, are given mobile phones as part of their contract. So, what has changed? Why are mobile phones suddenly acceptable?

This article shows you how mobile phone is taking staff productivity to an entirely new level.

It allows you to connect to apps with other staff members

As a virtual administrative assistant, it’s very important that you’re able to interact with key staff members on important tasks and projects.

Without constant contact, you may not be able to complete projects with as much ease. After all, collaboration on any project is vital to its success.

Emails can sometimes be a nightmare – especially when you forget to CC important staff members. Emails can also be lost, unread, or accidentally deleted.

As a virtual assistant, the ability to have your finger on the pulse and interact with staff members for the best outcome of a project is important. And, as there are so many apps out there that help provide a platform for group tasks and collaboration, a mobile phone is vital.

It can alert you to when other staff members have written notes, assigned new tasks or achieved goals. It can even tell you when your own task within the group project is due. If there’s an appropriate time where a mobile phone is vital for a project, it is now.

It enables you to keep in touch with your bosses and other management staff

As a virtual assistant, you can often be forgotten. That’s not to say you’re not making an impact in the workplace, but as the saying goes, when you’re ‘out of sight, you’re out of mind’.

This is why having a mobile phone – either assigned by your boss or a personal phone – is important. When you have questions, concerns or just need to update your boss, you can do so by phone. Sometimes email is just not effective, especially if you have concerns to voice. The tone of the email can often become skewed.

That’s not to say having a paper trail isn’t important, but you can always follow up the phone call with an email to reiterate the conversation you had.

But it’s not just the serious stuff that needs to be dealt with on the phone. The best virtual assistant is one who remembers to phone their boss just get to know them a bit better in a professional capacity. The best VA is one who has a strong working relationship with their boss.

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You can keep track of your workload

Mobile phones are proven to be very effective in allowing you to keep track of your workload. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re just not quite sure how to manage your tasks, you can enter them into your phone to provide alerts when something is due. You can even set up your phone to alert you when you need to start on a task. Essentially, mobile phones today are personal computers and can be used in all kinds of situations.

However, not just any phone will do. You will need to purchase a smartphone with app and internet capability. This will ensure you get the most benefits out of it. We recommend either Apple or Android.

You can sync it to your work computer for incoming alerts

When you become a virtual assistant, you have to learn to juggle life and work, all from the one location. Essentially, your work and home life has become blurred. A mobile phone can help you stay in control, even when you’ve decided to step out of home for a moment. However, when you’re away from your computer during the working day, stress can creep in. You may be out and about at the park with the kids, and you rush them home in a panic in case you’ve missed anything. With a mobile phone, this doesn’t have to happen anymore.

In many cases, you can sync your computer messenger programme with your phone to ensure you don’t miss a thing. Although the best way to get work/life balance is by avoiding work emails when you’re with family, some people just can’t do this.

The easiest way to counteract the stress associated with feelings of missing out is by taking your computer with you – in mobile form.

It can be used with Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) software

Because virtual staffing is a relatively new concept, there are still a few kinks to iron out. This has never been truer in the case of keeping virtual staff up-to-date with computer systems, tasks and workflows. It can be hard to juggle daily tasks when you feel ‘out of the loop’ and out of touch with what’s going on in the office. Luckily, there’s a virtual staffing solution in the form of Integrated Workplace Management Systems software.

IWMS software is relatively new, but it’s making the day-to-day operations of any small business or large corporate so much easier. Instead of relying on memos, emails, bits of paper and phone calls, you can use this software to receive real-time notifications on workflow. There are several different kinds of IWMS software, and all can be customised to not only suit the workplace, but the individual as well.

For example, let’s say you’re a virtual assistant in charge of invoicing products and services sold to consumers. IWMS software can provide a notification to your phone when another staff member (within the physical location of the business) has entered a sale into the system. This notification comes to your phone and you can now action the invoice based on the information entered.

It’s an entirely new and revolutionary system that’s now taken your virtual position from sometimes stressful, to completely manageable. This is all thanks to a mobile phone.

Have you seen a change within your workplace when it comes to mobile phone usage? Are you being encouraged, rather than discouraged to use them? We are interested to hear how your workplace operates. Get in touch!

 

5 ways to customise an employee handbook for your virtual assistant

An employee handbook is given to a staff member when he or she first joins a business. It’s the ‘go-to’ book for all information relating to the values, morals, day-to-day operations and expectations of any business. While it’s helpful for new staff members to learn the ropes and get a grasp of what is expected of them, what purpose does it serve to a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is generally hired as a contractor to a firm or company, but if you were to ask any member of an employment court, they would generally deem them to be anything. Because virtual assistant services are relatively new, there’s a grey area on what virtual assistants actually are. Are they an employee or a contractor? If they’re on the payroll, they’re most certainly deemed to be an employee.

Therefore, it’s important that your virtual assistant receives their very own employee handbook – whether it’s posted, or emailed.

So how do you customise that employee handbook to suit your virtual assistant? After all, virtual staffing services don’t exactly count as a standard form of employment.

Below we list five alterations that can be made, in order to cater to your new virtual assistant.

Employment classification

While much of the handbook is standard, the employment classification section can vary, depending on the contract the staff member or virtual assistant holds. This is the section which generally lists a staff member as either a full time, part time, casual or temporary employee. It outlines their day-to-day tasks, their benefits and the way their contract is structured. This, in most cases, won’t be relevant to a virtual assistant.

You should outline clearly what it means to be a virtual assistant for your company and how their employment is classified within the business.

Attendance policy

When the attendance policy is listed in staff manual or handbook, it generally mentions repercussions and processes for failing to turn up to work. This can include a warning, a written warning and then dismissal. For a virtual assistant, they don’t “turn up” to work at all, so how does it work for them? Within this area, it’s important you outline your communication requirements.

This could include failure to hold a conference call with you at a prearranged time, or failure to respond to instructions/orders/communication via email or in any other form can result in dismissal. If work is not completed and communication has gone cold, this also can result in dismissal. Give a timeframe and outline the processes involved with the dismissal process.

Even though virtual staffing solutions are a relatively new career path, it has been troublesome for some businesses. The main problem being communication. Once hired, some virtual assistants, and even those providing digital services, have been known to just stop being contactable. When a virtual assistant is based overseas, it’s far easier for them to do this as opposed to those working within your establishment.

Staff perks and benefits

Many companies and businesses offer staff perks and benefits for being a staff member. This could include staff discount on products and services, or bonuses for meeting targets. Not all of these benefits will be possible for your virtual assistant, therefore you need to alter this section to suit them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t treat your virtual assistant. After all, a good virtual assistant is one who feels valued. However, it may just need to be altered. For example, meeting deadlines and targets can be rewarded with a bonus payment, or you may offer incentives for additional work produced. Some employers even go the extra mile by providing vouchers as end-of-year gifts for virtual assistants. Being overseas is no longer a barrier to being kind and generous as an employer.

Health and safety

The health and safety section of an employee handbook generally relates to the procedures within that particular location. It could include a fire exit, a meeting point, where the fire extinguisher and first aid kit is stored, among other things. It could even include opportunities to become a fire warden or a first aid responder. This is often not applicable in the case of someone providing a virtual staffing service.

While ‘safety’ can most certainly refer to the safety of protected documents within an online setting, it more or less relates to personal and professional safety. Therefore, you could choose to exclude this section altogether, or turn it into an ‘online safety’ section about the importance of keeping documents and files confidential.

Working hours

Some employers choose to customise each handbook to include an employee’s particular contractual obligations. This can include their working hours. It can be difficult for a virtual assistant to align their working hours with that of the business they are working for. This is particularly true in the case of those working from overseas. Therefore, this section of the handbook will need to either be altered, or removed.

If you are looking to alter it, you could outline your expectations in regards to the hours worked. For example, if your virtual assistant is paid to work full time, it could be an obligation that they must work the full 40 hours. This can be tracked using a time tracking app, or manually if you trust your assistant.

It would be redundant to include their actual working hours, unless you require that they are online when your business is open. This is up to the individual employer and employee.

In line with the working hours, it also pays to be aware of your obligations with holiday pay and sick pay. If you’re unsure of your requirements in this respect, it may be best to speak to a lawyer. The grey area with virtual staffing positions means that you may have to pay holiday and sick leave even if you don’t believe you are legally required to. Include this customised information with your handbook.

Are you an employer who has provided a virtual assistant with a handbook? If so, what did you include in it? Or are you a virtual assistant who has received one? We’d like to hear what was involved.

Are you stressed and have too much work? The best virtual assistant is one who speaks up.

best virtual assistant

The best virtual assistant is one who can complete all tasks assigned to him or her. However, every now and again, that superstar VA may come across a hefty workload that gets on top of them. That’s not to say they’re not the best at what they do, but there are only so many hours in a day.

Because virtual assistants can often be considered easily replaced by some employers, they may be too scared to speak up. However, there is such a thing as too much work, and it may be a matter of speaking to your supervisor to organise the work into low priority and high priority categories.

If you don’t speak up, you’ll never know there’s a solution to your problem.

Below are five ways virtual assistants can work together with their managers to tackle a tough workload.

Communicate

Your boss, in staff of virtual staffing solutions, has no idea you’re in need of help if you don’t speak up. You may be feeling undervalued, overworked and tired, but how is your boss to know? They will keep firing work through at a rapid pace, expecting it to be done. After all, it’s your job. They may not know you’re working all hours to get it done under the impression it’s of critical importance. How do you know that’s the case, at all?

virtual assistant

That’s why communication is key. If you find yourself in a situation where there’s so much work, and so little time, it’s time to make a phone call. You don’t have to tell your boss you can’t do your work; you just need to ask them to prioritise the workload. Are there some tasks that can wait until next week? Are there some that need to be completed within one to two days? Find out. The sooner you do, the sooner you can let that feeling of stress just melt away.

Share a document with current tasks

Believe it or not, your boss is probably just as overwhelmed as you are. They may be firing tasks through at a rapid pace, but they might not have a current system in place to track it, or to find out how much they have actually sent you. A virtual assistant is tasked with all matters of work, and a boss can easily and often absentmindedly send bulk work through without realising it could cause the VA a lot of stress.

You can avoid this problem by creating a shared document with your employer, outlining the work assigned, and its deadlines. If there’s a good system in place in the first instance, the feeling of being overwhelmed may never come up. You know exactly when work is expected, and you can focus on the most important tasks first.

If there is currently no system such as this one in place, set one up. Don’t wait for your boss to do it. Set it up, share it with him or her and follow it up with a phone call and instructions on how you would appreciate work being sent through. It’s a beneficial system for both parties so the business owner is sure to cooperate.

Set limits on your working hours

The hard thing about working from home is having so many hours up your sleeve to work. Sometimes it can become all too easy to work at all hours of the day and night. After all, your work is at home, and so is your leisure time. It’s only expected that occasionally the two will blur. However, for your sanity and the risk of burning out, it’s important you set a limit on your working hours. Most people work 40-hour weeks, so there’s no reason why you can’t as well. Being a virtual assistant gives you the flexibility to work the hours that suits, but you need to make sure you don’t burn yourself out by working too many.

virtual staffing solutions

You also need to make sure your boss is aware of your limits, too. In a position such as his or hers, they are paid to work the long hours. That doesn’t mean you have to as well. They may send work through at all hours of the day or night, but ensure they don’t hold the expectation that you should drop your private life in order to work at his or her beck and call.

The best virtual assistant is one that knows how to maintain a professional and private life, equally.

Find out deadlines

Sometimes it’s not a matter of having too much work, sometimes there can be too much work without clear deadlines. If you were to look at all the work you completed during an average working week, you would see you’ve accomplished a lot. So, when the boss sends through a substantial amount of work all in one go, it pays not to get overwhelmed. Chances are, that work is to be completed over one week.

However, how are you to know? Virtual staffing services are put in place to make the life of a business owner much easier, and the life of a virtual assistant far more flexible. But there needs to be clear deadlines in order to make the business relationship work. If your boss gets in the habit of firing work through haphazardly with no instructions and/or deadlines, try and re-train him or her. Ask for deadlines and specific instructions to be sent through in a separate document so you know which project is more important.

This means you won’t need to stress about too much work, as you can set yourself daily goals to meet in order to get the work completed.

Last resort – hire help

If you’ve tried all four steps above and you still find you’re working too many hours with no reprieve, ask for help. You need to contact your manager and explain the situation. If he is tracking your time automatically through software, he is sure to see for himself that the workload is too much for one person. If he is dubious about hiring a second virtual assistant, offer to train them on the processes yourself, if that’s what it takes.

virtual staffing services

Life is too precious to spend it overworking and burning yourself out. If you still, after all this advice, find yourself unable to cope, it might be time to move on. You’ve tried your best to make the situation better, but not all managers are going to be the best at making a workload manageable for staff. Don’t think of yourself as a failure, simply do as much as you can and begin looking for work elsewhere.

Have you been stressed as a virtual assistant? How did you combat the problem? Let us know, we’d love to find out your tips and tricks on how to make it through the hard times.

Five things to ask before you accept a virtual assistant job

virtual staffing

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!