Even though you’ve got a long to-do list, you don’t have the time to do everything by yourself. A virtual assistant (VA) can help, but what tasks should you assign and which should you keep?

That’s what we’re going to discuss in this post.

Use this article to put together your virtual assistant job description. We’ll also share some tips to help you find an outstanding assistant so you can get more done.

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Virtual assistant tasks you should consider outsourcing

What does a virtual assistant do for you?

People hire assistants to handle all kinds of tasks.

Administrative work is easy to outsource because it’s time-consuming, simple, and necessary. Some of the most common virtual assistant responsibilities are administrative tasks.

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But virtual assistants can do a lot more than answer messages and schedule appointments.

Some VAs have specialized skills so they can take on more responsibilities. You can often find an assistant with experience in marketing, data analysis, or customer service. These specialists charge a little more, but their expertise is worth the expense.

Here is a list of tasks you should consider delegating to a virtual assistant.

Managing emails

Emails are probably one of the biggest time wasters for most entrepreneurs. Imagine working hard on a particular task, getting into the zone, and suddenly, a new email notification pops up.

You open up the email to see what it’s about, and before you know it, you’ve lost your flow. It takes you an average of 23 minutes to refocus and get back into the zone.

That’s what interruptions do to your workflow. How many hours have you lost to email interruptions alone? The distraction is rarely worth your lost productivity. Having a virtual assistant manage your inbox can save you hours every week and allow you to spend your time on higher priority tasks.

While the idea of giving someone else control over your email inbox might seem scary at first, there’s little risk. Email management is a common task for virtual assistants. As long as you’re dealing with a reputable company or contractor, you’re unlikely to face any issues.

Your VA can handle most simple requests and delete spam messages. If anything is urgent, they’ll get your attention.

Teach your assistant how to handle the most common emails you receive. For example, create guidelines on how to respond to frequently asked questions from clients.

It’s also wise to set a policy for promotional messages. The less often they have to ask you what to do, the more time you can spend on other things.

Don’t expect a virtual assistant to exactly copy your communication style from the start. Give them time to learn how you communicate. Give them feedback often so they know what they’re doing well and where they need to improve. Over time, you’ll wonder how you ever managed your inbox on your own.

Answering phone calls

Phone calls, both personal and business-related, interrupt you in the same way emails do. Delegate these little disruptions to your virtual assistant so you can stay focused.

It’s better to have a real person answer your calls instead of letting them go to voicemail.

Your callers will appreciate that they talked to an actual human to leave their message, and your virtual assistant can answer most simple questions without bothering you at all. If there’s ever an urgent situation, they can reach you immediately.

Keep in mind that forwarding your calls to your assistant during work hours means that you need to hire someone who is available during that time. International VAs may expect to work asynchronously. If you plan to ask your assistant to handle telephone calls, verify that they’ll be available for the entire workday.


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Schedule management

Back-and-forth emails are an inefficient way to schedule meetings. Meeting scheduling tools are better, but you have to be mindful to keep it up to date or people will schedule appointments that interrupt your other priorities.

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A virtual assistant is a better solution.

They keep track of your focus time, organize appointments so that they’re as efficient as possible, and remind you to prepare ahead of time. If you take off-site meetings, your assistant will make sure you have plenty of time to get from place to place.

If you need to reschedule, your assistant can call everyone involved and organize a new time. They’ll make sure everyone gets the message and that the new time works for all parties.

Sometimes, meetings should be declined. Your VA can help you screen requests like “I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee and pick your brain” so that you only spend your limited time on the most important appointments.



Data entry

Data entry is one of the most tedious and repetitive types of work. Since anyone can do it, there’s no reason why you should waste your own time doing it.

There are plenty of virtual assistants who specialize in data entry. They’re quick and affordable.

A virtual assistant can help you collect, sort, and input all your data using the software of your choice. If you have a bunch of documents you’d like to digitize, a VA can help with that as well. They’re good at taking all of those tedious, but necessary tasks off of your plate.

Bookkeeping

Your virtual assistant may not be an accountant, but they can help with bookkeeping tasks. For example, they can reconcile transactions and maintain your financial records with software like Xero or Freshbooks.

Reminders from your VA help you remember to pay all your bills on time. They can create and send invoices and follow up on outstanding bills to make sure people pay you on time, too.

Since bookkeeping involves handling sensitive data, find a trustworthy VA with plenty of references. Some virtual assistants specialize in this kind of work. If necessary, ask them to sign a nondisclosure agreement.

Research

You probably do a lot of research to keep your business running smoothly. Whether you’re launching a new project, keeping up with industry news, or looking for articles like the one you’re reading now, research is both necessary and time-consuming.

A virtual assistant can help. For example, they can collect information about your prospects before a sales presentation. Some may be able to do competitor analyses and other in-depth research tasks.

Some research tasks are ongoing. Ask your assistant to collect any relevant news, watch for announcements about products or services that you use, or monitor fluctuations in prices.

You still need to read all the relevant materials to learn, but you save a lot of time by having someone else filter out the unimportant information. Spend your time on the most relevant topics and ignore the rest.

Client relationship management

A personal touch goes a long way. It’s a great idea to send birthday cards, thank you notes, and other little gifts to your important partners and clients. However, it can be a real chore to keep track of all those dates and people.

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Save time and creative energy by delegating most of the work.

Let your virtual assistant take care of the logistics. You set the budget. Your VA can choose an appropriate gift, write a personalized message, and make sure it arrives on time.

In fact, your virtual assistant can help you keep track of personal dates and events, too. Ask them to remind you about birthdays and anniversaries ahead of time.

Travel planning

If you’ve ever traveled anywhere, you know what a hassle it can be to find the best prices on airline tickets.

Instead of looking at airline websites every day to see if ticket prices have dropped, get a virtual assistant to do it for you. They can also help you find and book hotels.

That’s not all a good assistant can do. Your virtual assistant can plan most of the trip for you. They’ll book your flights, car rental, and hotels, and even make dinner reservations and find event tickets.

You’ll never want to travel any other way again. Soon, you’ll want your assistant to plan your vacations, too.

Social media management

Do you spend a lot of time on social media? If you spend hours every week answering messages, responding to comments, or posting to build your digital presence, you can free up a lot of that time by delegating.

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Decide whether you want to outsource your company’s social media handling, your personal social media accounts, or both. Business owners often create a brand around their personality in addition to their company.

Your assistant can draft and schedule posts and engage with your followers. You can also have them act as a moderator and make sure the comments left on your social media pages aren’t inappropriate.

They’ll make sure all the information on your social media pages is up to date. If they specialize in social media, they may also help you maintain a consistent brand image across channels.

If you delegate social media to a virtual assistant, give them clear guidelines. They shouldn’t have to ask you about everything. These guidelines should include information on your brand’s voice and tone, your target audience, and the types of content you’d like posted on your pages.

Look for a VA that specializes in this type of work, especially if they will post as you. Expect to pay a little more for this skill.

If you want someone to run your entire social media strategy or marketing campaigns, it’s better to look for a social media marketer instead of delegating that to a virtual assistant.

Content writing

If you hate writing but still need to create content for your business, consider hiring a VA to handle all your content writing for you.

A virtual assistant can help create blog posts, newsletters, press releases, ebooks, and other written content. They can assist with editing and proofreading, as well as add content to your website.

If you don’t want to delegate the entire content writing process, you can ask your VA to do the research. They can find all the essential information you need to create the content yourself.

Another option is to get on a call with your VA to discuss a particular topic and then have them ghostwrite a piece based on your input.

Keep in mind that good quality content comes at a higher price. Most virtual assistants are not full-time writers. They can help fill in the gaps, but if you want someone to handle lots of content for your business, it’s wise to hire a specialist.

Graphic design and video editing

While anyone can learn to do basic photo and video editing, not everyone has the time. Even simple edits can take hours. It takes even longer if you’re not experienced.

Your virtual assistant can help you with some of these creative tasks. Ask if they have any experience creating social media graphics or editing YouTube videos.

A virtual assistant can also help design flyers, brochures, and other printed materials for your business.

Not every virtual assistant has this skill. However, you can ask them to help you find a great freelancer to get these things done. Give them a budget and some basic criteria and ask them to manage that process.

Customer support

A virtual assistant can help with support overflow. While they might not be able to act as an extra support agent, they can take care of some of the tasks that your support agents normally do.

For example, a VA can monitor your inbox for new emails from potential or existing customers and forward messages to the right place. They may also be able to help by doing research for escalations, processing refunds, or following up with customers after an issue has been resolved.

Some virtual assistant agencies do offer virtual support. If you use an agency, ask if this is an option during your busy season.

Simple website maintenance

If you use a software-as-a-service platform for your business, you usually don’t need a developer on staff to keep your website up to date. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have some maintenance. Most platforms and plugins require regular updates to keep your site secure.

Virtual assistants are ideal for this. They monitor your site for updates and to keep you running smoothly.

Your assistant can also take care of backups so that you don’t have to worry about losing valuable data.

Ask them to periodically check your website for broken links and technical issues. If they find any, they can either fix them if they’re simple or bring them to your attention.


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How much does a virtual assistant cost?

Just like there’s a wide range of tasks a VA can do for you, there’s also a wide range of prices you might pay for that work. Your virtual assistant may charge anywhere from $1 per hour to more than $100 per hour. The average is around $15 per hour.

Virtual assistants that are located in areas like India and the Philippines charge less than US-based assistants because their cost of living is lower.

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Low-skilled work like data entry and basic administrative tasks cost less than more specialized tasks. A virtual assistant who can do graphic design, write content, and help manage your finances will cost more.

Compare rates by contacting multiple agencies or looking at virtual assistant listings on a freelance marketplace.

That brings us to the next question:

Where do you find virtual assistants?

There are so many websites that offer virtual assistant services or list freelance virtual assistants, such as:

  • freelance websites like Hubstaff Talent and Freelancer
  • job boards and classified ads websites like Craigslist
  • social media groups such as those on LinkedIn

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However, finding a good virtual assistant can be a challenge.

Since they handle so many different types of work, it can be hard to find someone who has the exact set of skills and experience you want. You might need to hire multiple assistants to cover all of your needs.

Many virtual assistants work on a freelance basis, so you compete for their time with other clients. It can be tough to verify references and find someone you can trust right away.

Assistant agencies help with this, but they have drawbacks, too.

You might pay a little more for the same work since the agency has to make money, too. Plus, there’s no guarantee that you’ll work with the same person all the time. Working with a team of assistants makes it harder for them to learn the nuances of your business.

If you look on reputable freelance marketplaces or use a top-notch agency, you’re likely to get better results.

Here are some tips to help you find the best VA for your needs.

Tips for finding an excellent virtual assistant

Millions of professionals post listings on freelance websites and job boards. With so much on offer, picking the perfect VA can be overwhelming.

Most well-respected freelance websites have language and computer skills tests. However, don’t rely on those tests alone to determine whether a particular VA is a good fit for your needs or not.

Check out each candidate’s portfolio, and read their reviews and testimonials.

How diligent should you be? It depends on the kind of assistant you want.

If you’re looking for someone to complete simple data entry, then you don’t need to dig into their background too deeply.

However, for more complicated tasks, make sure your VA has all the necessary skills. Look for reviews and references from people who hired them to do the same things you want to accomplish.

LinkedIn is a great place to find a virtual assistant. The difference between LinkedIn and freelance marketplaces such as Upwork is the lack of anonymity. It’s harder to be anonymous on LinkedIn, so you’ll have a better idea of who you’re dealing with.

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Additionally, building a good reputation on LinkedIn is difficult for contractors. If you see that a virtual assistant has many LinkedIn recommendations, they’re probably excellent.

Even with great references, still do a thorough background check and ask for a trial project before hiring someone full-time. The background check is especially important if your VA will have access to customer data.

Virtual assistant job description template

Here’s a template you can use when creating your next virtual assistant job posting:

We are looking for a Virtual Assistant to provide administrative support to our team daily.

As a Virtual Assistant, you will perform various administrative tasks, including answering emails, managing our social media pages, scheduling meetings, and making travel arrangements.

A virtual assistant should perform all of these tasks with minimal supervision.

Responsibilities

Reply to emails and answer phone calls

Schedule meetings

Book travel accommodation

Perform market research

Prepare reports

Provide customer support

Requirements

1+ years of experience working as a Virtual Assistant

Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Able to manage their time effectively

Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

Available to respond to communications from the hours of 8 AM until 3 PM EST

Once you hire a virtual assistant, define their responsibilities clearly so that both you and they know what to expect. If you ask for work outside of that scope, expect to adjust your rate.

Our free Virtual Assistant Responsibilities Template is a great place to start. Use this template to outline everything your VA will do.



The easiest way to find virtual assistants

Hubstaff Talent

Hubstaff Talent connects virtual assistants with businesses and individuals who need them. It’s completely free to use, with no fees charged to businesses or virtual assistants.

You can use it to search for VAs with specific skills, experience, and hourly rates. Filter results by the VAs’ location, availability, and language.

Next steps

Are you ready to hire your first virtual assistant? Here’s what you should do right now to make sure your first hire is a success.

  1. Create a list of responsibilities you want your assistant to handle. You can use our free template to help.
  2. Decide which time zones are acceptable for your VA. If you hire internationally, does your assistant need to be available during business hours? Sometimes, an asynchronous virtual assistant is a great choice.
  3. Start working on your job posting. Make sure your requirements are clear before you reach out to any potential candidates.

For more information on finding, hiring, and working with virtual assistants, check out our Ultimate Guide to Virtual Assistants.

This post was originally published in July 2014. It was updated in May 2021.