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How To Choose A Virtual PA: Everything You Need To Know

Oct 12, 2007
Seven important considerations when choosing a virtual PA.

1. Experience.
How much experience do they have? Ideally a good virtual assistant should have over five years experience as a senior PA or secretary. How long have they been in business? A relatively new 'virtual' personal assistant is not a bad sign, look at their corporate experience and find out more about what they have to offer. After all, we all have to start somewhere. Investigate whether they have any specific experience in working within your industry. This is particularly useful for those working within the financial, legal, health and training sectors.

2. Skills.
What particular skills does the personal assistant have and are they what you need? Are they lacking in any skills that you need and can they outsource to someone else in this case? If they say they can design websites, look at their website - is it professional and well designed? If they don't have the skills you require ask if they are prepared to learn them. Most virtual PAs have brilliant I.T. skills and will pick up new systems quickly.

3. References/testimonials.
Can the assistant provide some references or testimonials that you can verify? A good one will have a combination of written and telephone referees.

4. Rates.
Are they charging too much or too little? They may be the cheapest but that may also reflect the quality of their work, the standard of their equipment or their lack of professionalism. Do some research about the 'going' rate and compare what you get for your money. Many people get hung up on the hourly rate but remember your virtual PA will be helping you to earn more money for your business. They should be worth their weight in gold as the expression goes!

5. Contractual terms.
They should prepare a client agreement for you. This formalises the arrangement and will outline payment terms as well as other contractual obligations. Check the payment terms are achievable for your business, it is your duty to pay your assistant on time and they may cease working for you if you fail to pay when due.

6. Technology/equipment.
Check what computer equipment your PA has and also whether they have any other useful equipment like transcription machines (though not essential if you use digital transcription), fax, printers, telephones, BlackBerry or other PDA. They should also have a reliable broadband connection as well as a contact number for telephone calls.

7. Personality.
Finally but most importantly how will you work with your virtual secretary? A good relationship with your PA is essential for both parties and will help you develop your business relationship over time. Your virtual PA will become an important lifeline for your business so it is fantastic if you 'hit it off' and have complete faith in them.

There is a lot to consider when hiring a virtual PA and there is much more to your decision than simply considering hourly rates. Look at all factors equally and you should find someone who shares your goals for your business.
About the Author
Versatile Assistant is a Virtual PA and Lifestyle Management business providing secretarial support to busy professionals. Find out how a virtual PA can help you transform your life.
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