I’ve written this post especially for virtual assistants looking for clients, but those of you trying to determine if a virtual assistant is the right choice for you will find some words of wisdom here too.
I know it seems like I’ve done the ‘definition of a virtual assistant’ thing to death, but too many new VA’s are so desperate to find clients that they may eventually find themselves in a situation far removed from their dream of being a successful virtual assistant.
Like many virtual assistants, I have a Google alert set up to bring me news from the VA realm. This morning I was greeted by this link. At first glance, this may appear to be a great opportunity to gain a client, but before you get too excited, look closer.
The very first section gives a savvy VA a hint that this may not be a great opportunity. You’ll notice that in the forth line they mention interviewing and three lines down from there it states you must be available on Skype during working hours. Virtual Assistants conduct consultations with potential clients to see how their services,etc. might fit a clients business, which is different from being interviewed for a position. They also work their own set hours, not necessarily the same business hours a client might consider their work hours.
Even without reading further this tells me that this company is looking to reap the benefits of a virtual assistant (no taxes and benefits) while gaining an employee. And sure enough, as you get down further you find under the section labeled “Payment” the phrase: This is a full time job. This means I expect that you don’t have other jobs besides this one.
To those of you thinking you may want to hire a VA, if this is one of your requirements, a VA is not for you. Hiring a virtual assistant is like hiring an accounting firm or an attorney, you should expect that they are going to have other clients as well as you.
At this point in the posting you should also notice the hours expected to work, 8-12 hours a day, 6 days a week! I wasn’t expected to keep those type of hours when I was a title processor, and that’s a demanding job!
And what are they willing to pay you for all of those hours you’re working .77 ¢ an hour. What? you may say, it says $200 a month? Exactly. And for that $200 you’re working an average of 60 hours a week. In my opinion, this company isn’t looking for a VA or an employee, they’re looking for slave labor. No one can survive on 77 cents an hour.
What started out looking like a professional request for assistance looks more like a travesty now doesn’t it?
As a new or inexperienced VA I know it gets frustrating when you haven’t landed those first clients yet, or you need to pick up just a few more to make ends meet, but be cautious when replying to jobs posted on job sites, freelance sites and the like. Make sure you read them thoroughly and watch for warning words like interview and resume. You must remember that you are a business, providing a service to another business. When is the last time you asked your plumber for a resume?
When examining payment amounts, make you notice how many hours they are looking for and do the math. And the minute you see anything in the post about working for them exclusively or doing the job according to their time schedule and exactly as they want it done remember that the IRS calls that an employee and won’t take kindly to a business who doesn’t pay taxes, benefits, etc. just because the company calls it a Virtual Assistant position.
As hard as it is, it’s much better to stay true to your rates and policies and wait for clients who understand not only that a virtual assistant is not simply an employee who works from their own office, but the true value of working with an experienced professional.
If you’re an aspiring virtual assistant, don’t forget to get the free “10 Step Guide to Starting a Virtual Assistant Business” !