If you’re a struggling small business owner, then having a virtual assistant can be a true lifesaver. Virtual assistants can take care of multiple business-related duties, allowing you to focus on what you do best. At the same time, however, hiring a good virtual assistant takes time and effort. First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure he or she has the right qualifications to meet your needs.

The Top 3 Qualities of a Good Virtual assistant

  1. The VA you choose should have the right language proficiencies.

In addition to being fluent in your language, your VA should be fluent in the primary languages your customers speak. Before hiring a VA, analyze the demographics of your target market to determine the top three languages they use.

If your customers use a wide array of different languages, we suggest sourcing your VA from an agency. Why? Many agencies intentionally hire VAs to represent every major language, giving them a truly global range of language proficiencies.

  1. Your VA should be willing to take timezones into consideration.

Think about when you need your VA to work: Will you need to communicate with him or her regularly during business hours? Or do you need mostly after-hours service? In either case, your VA should be willing to operate within the timezone that works best for you. (If not always, then at least some of the time.) Once again, working with an agency can be helpful here: Agencies often employ VAs in more than one timezone and/or have their VAs work in shifts to provide around the clock service.

  1. Your VA should have specific experience.

The title of “virtual assistant” potentially encompasses a wide array of different roles. As such, it’s important to look closely at a VA’s work and education history before hiring him or her. Does he or she have training specific to the duties you want him or her to perform? (For example, if you want your VA to handle payroll and employee scheduling, then he or she should have managerial experience and experience handling payroll systems. Basic bookkeeping experience would also be a plus.)

At this point you may be wondering, “But what if I need my VA to perform a number of different, and widely divergent, roles?” If this the case, rather than hiring several different freelance VAs, we recommend working with an agency. Most agencies staff VAs with a range of different skills and backgrounds. You may even be able to find one who has worked in your industry before.

To Find Qualified Virtual Assistants Quickly, Use an Agency

The bottom line? If you don’t have the time to research an individual VA thoroughly, hiring through an agency is the safer solution. Not only do agencies provide a wide range of differently-qualified VAs, they vet them thoroughly. This, of course, increases service quality and reliability. Finally, even if you aren’t happy with the work of an agency-based VA, you have options. Most agencies will quickly provide you with an alternative VA—Sparing you from going through the hiring process all over again.