The Reality of Being a Virtual Assistant

18 November 2022

Ever thought of becoming a virtual assistant?

We sure think you did. If you heard how much virtual assistants earn and how flexible their work hours and environment are, you will also be enticed to start a career from home. If you can work from home and earn more money by doing so, why wouldn’t you opt for this job position instead? We think it’s completely justified why the industry is growing, why people are looking for this kind of job, and wanting to be hired for one vacant position.

But there are many things that the industry doesn’t tell you. Of course, it will offer an irresistible salary with a flexible work arrangement—your dream for so long. You’d finally have the opportunity to work anywhere and at your own time. Working from home means you’ll be spending a lot less for food and transportation. You can just cook meals at home, take the public commute a few times, bring your bike, or walk to and fro the office (anyway, you only need to report to the office for only a few days). You also don’t need to do a lot of shopping because you’d most probably wear your pajamas the whole day long, except of course if you have a video web conferencing at some time during the day. You also love the fact that you won’t be working with any toxic colleagues or to think of a conversation starter in the pantry where there’s someone who walked in that you don’t particularly vibe with. You won’t have a nagging boss or a micromanager watch your every move. You can rest at any time of the day and you can think of so many hacks to make your work much easier. Your work hours depend on one, your workload but also how you will be handling that workload so that you can finish earlier.

BUT if you’ve never been hired as a virtual assistant, you won’t really know how it’s like to be one. You’ll realize a lot of things that may also be the deciding factor whether you want to continue being a virtual assistant or not. So let us tell you some of the ugly truths about being a virtual assistant. These may or may not apply to the company you applied for, is applying for, or is currently working for.

Number one — the virtual assistant industry is exploitative. Imagine hiring a writer, graphic designer, and secretary for the price of one. You will do so many things for your client and they will only pay you the standard salary when in reality, you are doing the work of four people. Plus, they will make sure that they exhaust you to your maximum potential.

If you are in this spot, protect yourself by one, communicating what you can and will do; two, not taking unpaid overtime hours; and three, having all these requirements in written record to protect you. Make sure that you are getting paid right, know your value and stand your ground. If you can, we would suggest that you give rates based on the different work tasks that you will do versus your salary depending on the number of hours that you report to work.

Number two —virtual assistants are offered little to no protection. Most virtual assistants won’t be given an insurance coverage or companies won’t file taxes for you. You are outsourced by them so they put little care on your safety or health. They also save a lot of money by not having to take care of these benefits that you’d normally get if you were hired by a traditional company. After your initial interview, immediately ask the person interviewing you what benefits you will have from the position. Take all of these into account when you will make the decision whether you should continue or to which company you will accept the offer.

Number three - agencies get more than the virtual assistants. We’re not generalizing and saying all companies fall into this mold. It’s just the reality that some agencies ask a lot from the clients but will only give a fraction of it to the virtual assistant. Look at industry prices and compare. Don’t bend down on a price that doesn’t work for you. And the best tip is to try your best to get directly hired by a client and not through an agency. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile and look for people who are in need of virtual assistants. Once you start working directly for the client, do your best so you don’t get replaced. You’ll be earning a lot more now that you work for your client directly compared to getting employed by a third party agency.

Number four — the competition is cutthroat. Many agencies will tell you that it’s easy to get employed by their company but you should know by now that it’s never easy. As mentioned above, the industry is growing so naturally, you will be up against so many people from the internet wanting to get the job. It’s not an easy job to get hired for and moreso, not an easy job to do once you get hired. Don’t lose hope and just continue to upskill until you get hired by a client.

Number five — your boss won’t care about your time. They would expect you to care about their time but you can’t expect that they would have the same respect for yours. They would bombard you with tasks with little to no idea of how long a task takes to finish. They would message at different times of the day even though your shift for them is already done. What you can do when this happens is to one, communicate with your boss. Let them know when you’ve logged in and when you’re about to log out. Tell them if you are already over your hours. Tell them that you’ll accomplish this and that on a different day. Next is to control your time as much as possible. Be efficient and work smartly instead of working harder. Know the digital tools you can maximize and invest in ergonomic furniture to improve your productivity.