If you’re at the point where you’re ready to hire a virtual administrative professional, your next task is to decide how you’re going to find one.

Virtual administrative professional services are increasingly popular as an option for sourcing your next AP. Broadly speaking, these are agencies or companies that have set up to find APs and match them up with the businesses that are looking to hire.

You’ll find there are several different options out there, but each operates differently. If you want to find the best solution for your needs, you’ll need to do some vetting. How? These are our suggestions:

How are virtual AP agencies different?

A virtual administrative professional agency is generally differentiated from other types of employment agencies because they specialize in administrative professionals who work virtually. It might seem like a small distinction, but the ability to work in a virtual environment is a specific skill set, as is being able to identify great candidates for a virtual role.

Virtual AP agencies should be highly proficient and experienced with virtual work themselves. They should be particularly adept with the processes and tools needed to operate successfully as a virtual team. This helps them to have a deep understanding of what it takes to be an effective virtual AP.

Look for their reputation

When you’re vetting a potential virtual AP agency, one of the first things to check is their overall reputation. There are clues to determine this:

  1. What are their clients saying? Look for genuine reviews that are attributed to a real client - someone you can actually look up and find.
  2. Look for any accolades or awards they have received. They may be a great agency and not have any sort of recognition yet, but if they do, you know they’ve been acknowledged by a third party.
  3. Look for who partners with them or is willing to recommend them. Businesses are protective of their own reputations and won’t want to recommend anyone that isn’t good at what they do!
  4. Look at who is behind the company. What are their skills, qualifications, and experiences? What makes them an expert at finding and providing high-quality virtual administrative professionals?

Look at their current clients

A good clue as to whether a virtual assistant agency might be a good fit is to look at their client list. Do they serve similar clients? Do they specify the types of clients they are looking for? Do you fit the description?

For example, some agencies might target small to medium-sized businesses and usually don’t help corporate clients. Others won’t take clients that are smaller than corporate. Agencies select clientele that they’re confident they can serve well, so make sure you fall within their description.

Look into their hiring process

You’re looking for an administrative professional that will work well with you. The AP role involves being a proactive, engaged assistant, anticipating needs and working as a team. APs and executives work very closely together, so it’s important that they’re also a good match in terms of personality and work style.

Finding the right match comes down to a thorough hiring process. What sort of background work does the agency do on their candidates? How do they determine that an AP has the right level of skills and experience? What do they do to ensure they can match APs with the right clients?

Ideally, you’re looking for a virtual administrative professional agency that has a strict vetting process for sourcing candidates. Some hiring agencies rely heavily on automated systems that churn a large number of candidates into a pool. They play a volume game where they’re banking on at least one of their many candidates being suitable.

You don’t want that. You want a final selection of candidates who have been vetted all the way through and determined to be highly qualified. This means the agency will have done some legwork narrowing down applicants, rather than presenting a large number of choices.

Make sure they’re definitely providing APs

Virtual administrative professionals shouldn’t be mixed up with virtual assistants, yet sometimes agencies seem to confuse the two. Look for an agency that is definitely providing administrative professionals!

There are many differences between the virtual administrative professional and virtual assistant roles. For one thing, a virtual AP takes a more proactive role, taking on project management tasks and generally not needing a huge amount of oversight to get on with what needs to be done. APs work at an executive level already and don’t need to be “managed.” They are a thought partner for executives.

On the other hand, a virtual assistant usually works from a list of tasks - one that a manager needs to provide them with. They don’t operate so much as a thought partner because they’re not expected to be at that level in their role. VAs generally need a manager and often prefer to work in a more task-focused way.

Know who you need and make sure that’s who the agency is hiring for!

Check their work terms

Another difference between agencies are their terms for work. Some agencies source the AP for you to hire as an employee. Others, (like Worxbee) are maintained as the employer of the administrative professional and contract out their services to the client.

Our contracts mean that we’re able to offer “fractional” virtual administrative professionals - APs that work a certain number of hours per month for a client. For those that don’t have the need or budget for a full time AP, this becomes an affordable way to access AP services.

When you’re looking at agencies, you need to decide: do you want a full-time, in-house AP? Or, do you want to contract AP services for a certain amount of time each month? For agencies that offer the latter, look into their terms of service. You’ll usually find a minimum number of hours per month is required (ours is 40 hours).

Another important factor to look out for here is, how do they communicate? If you’re contracting an AP from the agency, you may have cause to communicate directly with the agency to ensure your needs are met. Look for one that is highly communicative and has a reliable system in place.

Look into pricing

We’ve left pricing until last, but of course it’s a factor for most companies. Importantly, what are you getting for your money? How is the agency adding value for their clients? “You get what you pay for” is often the case, so least expensive doesn’t always mean best value.

It’s often easier if you can visualize what you’re getting. We would do something like create a table showing your shortlist of agencies, what they charge and key features that you’re getting as part of their service.

Final thoughts

You’ll find you have several options when it’s time to hire virtual administrative professional services, so it’s important to do some vetting so that you get the best possible match for your needs.

Look for an agency that specializes in virtual administrative professionals, and definitely make that distinction between administrative professionals and virtual assistants! Look into their hiring processes and how they determine a good match between AP and client.

Finally, if you need an agency that provides top-quality virtual APs, including on fractional time, check out Worxbee! We’d love to help you find your AP match.