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How to write a job description for your Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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If your business has grown enough that you need to start looking for a virtual assistant, congratulations!

You’ve finally grown enough to have to delegate tasks. A properly trained Virtual Assistant will be able to handle rudimentary, seemingly menial, but important tasks that will help you thrive.

Virtual Assistants usually work from home and help their clients take care of tasks that a secretary or administrative would normally take care of in a physical office.

Sounds easy, right?

It’s crucial that you come up with a suitable job description that can attract the right person.

Let’s break this down further:

Why you need to write a job description for your virtual assistant

Large companies may have human resource departments who are trained to look at jobs, their duties, and the minimum qualifications necessary to carry them out. Not every company has an HR department that can fulfil this important duty. Many profitable remote companies have small teams that can’t absorb the cost of hiring an individual to manage staff hiring.

You may be tempted not to come up with a detailed job description because you’re outsourcing a task instead of bringing in a person full-time, but a well-written job description is helpful for both candidates and you.

1) A job description outlines your expectations

Creating a list of what you want helps you reflect on your organization’s needs, company culture, and gaps in service you could delegate to someone else.

This process will also force you to write out qualifications, experience, and desirable traits in a candidate in a way they can easily digest.

Writing a job description also helps you manage your expectations. If you come into the process unsure of what you want the Virtual Assistant to take care of for you, it can get complicated. A good job description makes sure you know why you are hiring them.

2) You can narrow down your search

Every industry is different and yours may require a niche skillset.

If you run an IT company you may want someone who understands coding or certain types of jargon.

Once you see your list of tasks you may see your organization needs a person who spends a lot of time writing. A detailed job description will help you sift through qualified candidates so you can line up interviews that will turn into productive relationships—and a new hire that brings something to the table.

Otherwise, you may receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes from unqualified people.

Additionally, management starts at the beginning of every industry.

Have you ever seen a company that was in dire straits or listened to a business owner complain about lost productivity? Badly-written or vague job descriptions discourage hiring competent employees or finding people with skill sets that are different from what you actually need. Start finding great people at the beginning of your process so both sides can have a better idea of what to expect!

At this stage, you’re only looking to hire, but job descriptions can also let you know if it’s time to fire or correct someone.

3) You’ll attract serious candidates

Yes, it’s true that everyone who applies to any job is simply looking for money, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who put serious thought into applying to your organization.

A well-written job description is a tool that can help people truly consider the position and analyze whether or not their skills match up with your needs. It won’t dissuade every unqualified person from applying, but it will help!

Like any administrative profession, many virtual assistants see their profession as only a job that will help them get paid and help them get by. However, many Virtual Assistants are specialists at what they do and plan to make this job a future career.

They care about long-term relationships with clients, work to improve at their jobs as often as possible, and have systems in place that can help them work from home efficiently.

4) You can showcase your employer brand

Virtual assistants are often targets for scams, and they too sift through job descriptions to see whether or not the terms, hours, pay, and list of tasks are reasonable.

When you write down what you’re looking for, you’re also giving them the opportunity to see what your company does, how you handle business, and what your values are.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your mission and vision.

A great employee is hard to find, and the more buy-in they have about what you do, the more excited and motivated they will be to get work done. Do provide a list of benefits and perks you may offer along with what you expect from them.

This incentivizes long-term relationships that will benefit both you and your prospective Virtual Assistant.

5) You can get specific

Small and medium-sized organizations know how important teamwork is!

Along with making a list of tasks, qualifications, education requirements, certification requirements, and a description of daily duties, you can also highlight additional expectations.

Consider your company culture, industry type, schedule, and whether or not you work in an organization that is independent or interdependent. Some organizations may benefit from having an extroverted Virtual Assistant who is able to handle clients with ease, while others may require someone who can work as part of the rest of the team in a more cohesive way.

Others still may benefit from finding a person who is a bit more independent and quiet.

What to include in your job description

If this is your first time writing a job description or having to hire a virtual assistant, coming up with a list of tasks and desirable traits might seem daunting.

We’ve brainstormed a few ideas that might help you narrow your list down.

Sample: Assistant to Barnaby Lashbrooke

Description: This section should explain why the job was created. What is its purpose?

Example: Barnaby Lashbrooke is searching for a virtual assistant to help with administrative duties for his upcoming book launch. We provide daily tips that help our customers organize their lives, and sell products that can help them achieve their goals. We’re looking for someone who understands the need to make life easier for our customers and enjoys organizing work in a fast-paced, but mindful environment.

Responsibilities: this should explain what your Virtual Assistant will be expected to do with their time while on the clock. What are their essential duties? Are they expected to perform them daily, weekly, or monthly?

Example: Our virtual assistant can expect to perform these and related tasks on a daily and/or weekly basis.

  • Organize and schedule meetings
  • Respond to general customer inquiries (shipping questions, returns, and questions that aren’t listed in our frequently asked questions) via email or social media
  • Maintain a log of our data on Excel
  • Use software such as Trello to keep track of tasks
  • Proofread social media and other public posts

Skills: In this section, explain the everyday skills you expect your virtual assistant to use throughout the course of their job. List technical and interpersonal skills to the best of your ability.

Example: We’re looking for team members who are strong in the areas outlined below.

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Computer and digital literacy
  • Knowledge of social media
  • Ability to work on Google Drive and Google Cloud
  • Strong communication skills

Additionally, consider your company culture in order to narrow down a list of traits you know will help your organization.

Are you looking for candidates who have experience in something? Do you think your Virtual Assistant should have or be willing to obtain a certification of some sort in order to work for your company?

Example: Our ideal team member will also exhibit the following qualities.

  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Detail-oriented
  • 2+ years of customer service experience
  • Fluency in another language is a plus
  • Zest for learning and constant self-improvement

Hours: Mention the time zone in which you’re located, and let your employees know the days/times/time zone you will expect for them to work.

Example: We’re based in the United States and work Mondays-Fridays from 10 am-6 pm EST time zone. We will consider remote applicants anywhere in the country as long as they can work during this schedule.

Still in need of ideas?

Look at job boards in your industry and read through job descriptions. Take note of things that grab your attention, and things that don’t. Try to incorporate the positive elements of these job description writing conventions into your own ads.

Good luck in your search!

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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