The Philippines is a powerhouse of the outsourcing industry.
That shouldn’t be surprising at all, here’s why:
According to UNESCO’s Literacy Rate statistics, the country’s literacy rate is 98.22% as of 2015. Due to high literacy and therefore high communication skills, Filipino remote workers have been in high demand over the past few years.
Time Doctor’s CEO Rob Rawson has credited Filipino virtual assistants to Time Doctor’s success.
In this post, I’ll tell you the secret sauce to hiring a good virtual assistant from The Philippines.
Note: Want to get an “over-the-shoulder” view of what your Filipino virtual assistant is working on? Then check out Time Doctor for free for 14 days. You’ll be able to see what tasks your assistant is working on, how long the tasks take, and even see which apps and websites your assistant is visiting throughout the day.
Ready? Let’s go:
Where can I hire a Filipino virtual assistant?
There are numerous recruitment agencies as well as online services that can help you scout for the best Filipino virtual assistant talent.
Here are few options:
Virtual Assistant Recruitment Services
These services do the hard work of sourcing and recruiting Filipino virtual assistants for you.
Virtual Coworker is an offshoring service that provides Virtual Assistants to businesses based in Australia and USA. The service has a recruitment center based in the Philippines which selects virtual assistants suitable for your industry. You can find Filipino staff who are skilled in general assistance, bookkeeping, web and graphic design, recruitment assistance, social media management, and tech support. Most virtual assistants offered by this service work remotely. You can also choose between a part time or a full time remote virtual assistant.
How does it work?
You send a brief about the responsibilities you want a virtual assistant to handle. Based on your requirements, the Virtual Coworker Recruitment team will source, screen and interview suitable candidates. Depending on the nature of the job, it may take a couple of weeks to find the suitable candidates. You then receive resumes of the best candidates along with their hourly rate. Choose which potential virtual assistant you would like to interview over Skype. Once you select your VA, the service organizes the paperwork and the payroll system. Once you hire and work with your virtual assistant, their time tracker software sends you a daily email about the end of the day of summary.
How much does it cost?
What separates Virtual CoWorker from other virtual assistant services is that there are no recruitment fees. Filipino Virtual assistants hourly rates are fixed on the basis of the skills required. You can hire general virtual assistants for $6 per hour (300 pesos) or highly skilled VAs such as system Administrators for $14 per hour (700 pesos). You can find their pricing guide here.
Based in Australia, Outsourced.ph has employees in both the Philippines and Australia. The company exclusively serves small to medium sized businesses. You can source technically skilled virtual assistants from this service, since most of the staff is specialized in web development, QA testing, and IT support.
Quick Tip: If you find it difficult to find a worker in your niche (for example – game development), Outsourced.ph can connect you to a suitable virtual assistant.
They also have accountants, telemarketers, customer service reps, and graphic designers. Outsourced.ph allows you to hire multiple workers, so that you can create an entire virtual assistant team. Selected VAs work in an office environment which has reliable Internet and backup power.
How does it work?
Just like Virtual Coworker you provide the company with a job description. The company searches for employees from their existing database. If your job is highly specialized, Outsourced.ph starts the recruitment process to find an ideal candidate. The company provides the perfect Virtual Assistant for your organization. After the hiring process, your virtual assistant works directly from the Outsourced.ph office space based in Manila. The organization manages the paperwork and payroll for the selected employees.
How much does it cost?
Outsourced.ph manages recruitment, salary, office space, facilities, IT equipment, workstations, accounting, insurances and other employee benefits. Due to these additional services, the hourly rates of your employees can be a bit higher than other options. The hourly rates vary from $9 (450 pesos) per hour to even $25 (1270 pesos) per hour based on the skill requirements.
You can find their pricing guide here.
Virtual Staff Finder describes itself as a ‘Professional Matchmaking’ service. This service links small businesses or entrepreneurs with experienced Filipino virtual assistants. General Assistance, Content Writing, Digital Marketing, Graphic Designing and Customer Service are some of the industries covered by this service. Not only does this service help you find a suitable employee, you also receive a ton of tips and tricks on how to manage your future Virtual Assistant.
How does it work?
In order to access their virtual assistant connections, you would need to sign up to the service. After the payment, the VSF team will send a job description document where you would need to fill staffing requirements. The sourcing team will pre-screen their extensive VA database to find a suitable candidate. Potential Virtual assistants undergo phone and/or face-to-face interviews and background checks.
Tip: While you wait for potential candidates, you can browse through informative videos detailing the Virtual Assistant management process and guidelines to increase your productivity with your virtual assistant from the Philippines .
After the selection process, you can interview the top 3 candidates through Skype. Once you find your ideal Virtual Assistant, you would need to determine their salary based on their skills, experiences and job role.
How much does it cost?
Virtual Staff Finder has a one time fee of $495. You would need to pay your Virtual Assistants directly. You would need to fix your salary rates accordingly to the market. For example for a common General Virtual Assistant average rate vary from $450 (22800 pesos) – $600 (30400 pesos) Fortunately Virtual Staff Finder offers many resources and an e-book which can help you fix salaries for your virtual assistants.
Virtual Assistant Job Boards
Do you prefer to hire a Filipino virtual assistant on your own? These remote work websites help you find and connect with potential candidates.
Onlinejobs.ph is the largest job site for Filipino employees who seek remote working opportunities. The website allows you to handpick resumes which are suitable for your job role. You can go through thousands of virtual assistant profiles for job roles such as Digital Marketing, Writing, General Assistance etc. After the hiring process, the website allows you to maximize your productivity with their inbuilt tools.
How does it work?
There are 2 ways to use Onlinejobs.ph. You can either browse through thousands of resumes to find potential applications or you can post a job requirement on their website.
Quick Tip: You can narrow down the resumes by creating search filters. The most efficient filters are “Strong English Writing Skills” and “Resumes updated last month.”
Once you find a suitable worker, communicate with them through an e-mail or a Skype call. You would need to manage the hiring process, paperwork and payroll by yourself.
After hiring your VA, you won’t need to communicate with him through the website. The website still offers value after the process through its unique time tracking software TimeProof which allows you to monitor your employee’s activities.
How much does it cost?
Onlinejobs.ph is free to use! You can post jobs through the free version, but you can not view applications on the website. It offers Premium and Pro versions for $69 & $99 per month respectively.
While hunting for a Virtual Employee, you might spend a lot of time on communicating with potential candidates.
How do you speed up this process?
Outsourcely allows you to directly contact and hire your employee through their built in communication tools. With a database of 300,000 remote workers, you can find a virtual assistant for most industries. Currently, you can find a VA for design, mobile/web development, writing, admin support, customer service and sales.
How does it work?
Just like onlinejobs.ph you can either browse through the categories available or post a job requirement on the website. When you post a job opportunity, the website automatically notifies Virtual Workers with suitable skill sets. You can filter the applicants through various search terms such as internet speed, english skills, desired salary and a few more.
Once you find suitable candidates, interview them directly through its inbuilt e-mail, private chat, and video and voice calls. When you find your ideal virtual assistant, pay them directly through their requested channels.
How much does it cost?
Outsourcely is a paid service. Before signing up for the service, you can post a job for free and pay for the plan later. It offers a plan for individuals ($19/month), small businesses ($59/month) and medium businesses ($229/month). You can find what features each plan offers here.
Not happy with the service? Outsourcely gives your money back if you cancel your subscription within 30 days.
VirtualStaff.ph is a job board for Filipinos who work exclusively at home so you can get competitive rates. However, you would have to manually contact and hire your virtual assistant from the Philippines. The website’s education section offers an ‘Outsourcing Masterclass’ which details the entire hiring and management process. These resources along with the user friendly design makes VirtualStaff.ph an ideal choice for employers who are new to outsourcing.
How does it work?
The website is easy to use as you can instantly browse through hundreds of profiles matching your industry, or post a job description. Once you find the perfect profile, use their contact details to connect with them. The website also provides a salary guideline based on the job role.
How much does it cost?
VirtualStaff is free to use, but you can contact remote employees directly through the website. The business version allows you to post unlimited jobs and makes it easier for you to contact and hire your potential virtual assistant. The business version is around $49/month which makes it one of the cheapest alternatives available.
Important interview questions you must ask:
After selecting your top picks for your new virtual assistant from the Philippines, you would need to learn more about them before you hire them. You can divide your interview questions into three categories.
1. Background Questions
These questions are designed to assess basic selection criteria. For example, if you want to know how focused the candidate would be at their work, you can ask “Do you already have another job? If so, where are you working and how many hours do you spend on the job?”
Other questions you can ask:
“What is your favorite way to communicate?”
This will help you understand how mature their communications skills are, or how savvy they are with the latest communication tools.
“Will you work from home or from an Internet café?”
Their answer indicates their availability. If your virtual assistant is working from an internet cafe, his schedule will probably not be too flexible.
2. Skill Questions
Are your candidates good at what they do?
Put their technical skills to a test with these questions.
“What do you consider your core skills and services? Which ones are outside your scope?”
Use this question to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. You can expand the scope of your virtual assistant’s responsibilities if you feel that she is highly qualified.
“On a scale from 1 – 10, can you rate your XYZ skills?”
Keep in mind, their ratings do not indicate how successful they are at their work, it indicates their confidence level.
“Can send me three examples of your best work?”
Their portfolio reveals their true potential. You can also see whether they would be able to maintain your expected standards.
3. Teamwork Questions
How experienced is the candidate at working in a team and in interacting with people? How well will they able to handle these situations?
Ask them the following:
“Have you ever proactively addressed a client’s need? If so, how did you manage the situation.”
Their answer highlights their diligence at work. A positive response ensures that your virtual assistant will be able to help you in periods of crisis.
“How do you manage relationships with difficult team members?”
If you are hiring more than one virtual assistant, you need to know whether they would be able to collaborate with ease.
“Have you worked for foreign employers before?”
If the answer is yes, your virtual assistant from the Philippines is aware of your expectations and can easily adjust to your timezone.
The Ideal Interview: Skype or Voice Call?
Few applicants may not be comfortable with video calls so you should use your discretion while scheduling an interview.
A Skype interview is more suitable if you are hiring a virtual assistant from the Philippines for their communication or English speaking skills (for example – general virtual assistant).
For virtual assistants who don’t need to communication on a daily basis like software programmers or web designers, you can schedule a voice call interview instead.
How much you should pay your Virtual Assistants?
You should set your virtual assistant’s salary based on three criteria: Their skill, experience and job role.
Chris Ducker, a virtual staffing expert, listed the monthly salary ranges that he uses for his Filipino Virtual Assistants.
General Virtual Assistant (GVA) – $500 – $800
Content Writers – $500 – $700
SEO Virtual Assistant – $750- $950
Web Developers – $800- $1400
Graphic Designers – $700 – $1200
Mobile Developers – $800 – $1400
This is a rough guide for reference. Ultimately, it’s up to you decide your virtual assistant’s salary.
How to transfer money to the Philippines?
You are charged with a small amount of hidden currency conversion fees every time you transfer money through wire transfer. You may need to spend an extra $50 per transfer!
So what are the alternatives to wire transfer?
Your virtual assistant can receive their money directly on a debit card through the Payoneer account. You can also directly transfer to the receiver’s bank account. There is a $50 bonus if you receive more than $100 through this method.
This service allows you transfer money to the Philippines at a very low cost as their system is based on local bank transfers. Depending on the route, they charge a small upfront fee between 0.5% and 2% for transactions.
For more information, check out Time Doctor’s detailed guide to transferring money to Philippines.
Assessing your Virtual Assistant – Beyond the Interview
After hours of interviews and trials, you finally hire a promising Virtual Assistant from the Philippines.
But are they as good as they appeared to be?
You cannot gauge your Filipino VA’s abilities until they start working for you. You should set up a trial period of 2 weeks before giving them full-time responsibilities.
Here a few skills to look out for to decide whether you should keep your virtual assistant or it’s time to rehire:
1. Ability to follow instructions
After hours of searching for a graphic designer, you find a promising Filipino assistant. You send him an email asking him to create a new banner for your website along with size specifications. However, the designed banner is way bigger than the size required. He would have to resize or recreate the banner again, leading to a lot of wasted time.
Your VA should be able to follow your instructions precisely in order for things to run smoothly.
How do you check for this trait?
While posting a job requirement, sneak in a small instruction in the middle of the post. For example – “Start your application with the word ‘Goldfish’”. So when you receive hundreds of applications, you can find obedient virtual assistants by searching for ‘Goldfish’.
2. Taking Initiative
Virtual Assistants handle essential yet repetitive tasks on a daily basis. You don’t need to issue instructions every day. After a week, you notice that your virtual assistant from the Philippines doesn’t start the same task without your instructions. Micromanaging your VA is time consuming and exhausting. Your employees should be able to work without being pushed.
Does your virtual assistant take initiative?
Before hiring, send an email to your potential VA about the results of the application would be released on a certain date. On the day of the results, do not contact your virtual assistant. If your Virtual Assistant sends up a follow email regarding the results, it’s a good sign that he is willing to take initiative.
3. Ability to meet Deadlines
Does your virtual assistant take hours struggling at a task?
It can be really frustrating if your employee is unable to finish their allotted work on time. For example – your graphic designer submits the website banner days after the proposed launch date hence delaying the website. You miss out on a lot of potential revenue! Not to mention, slow workers can be hindrance for your growth as a business.
How do you know if your virtual assistant can finish the work on time?
You can check this trait during the trial phase. In the beginning you can impose tight yet reasonable deadlines for your employees to test their speed. Say for example – Writing a 1,000 word article in 4 hours. Once you are satisfied with their productivity, you can relax your deadlines, so that you don’t stress them out!
4. Keen learner
If you want your business to grow, your virtual assistant’s skills should also improve. They should be able to step out of the comfort zone. However, most virtual assistants from the Philippines prefer repetitive and easy work for a comfortable income. Chances are that they may not want to face difficult challenges that can help them learn more about their industry. Fortunately, there are many virtual assistants who are willing to improve their skills within the industry, and you can give them a chance to excel under your conditions.
How do you know if your virtual assistant wants to learn and grow?
During the interview phase, you can ask your candidates about the last book they read. Moderate or even casual readers would be open to new information and learning.
You can also quiz them about certain resources that have helped build their skills. For example – you can ask your graphic designer what websites or articles have helped him improve his work.
Logistical Issues When Dealing with a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines
Despite the Philippines’ excellence in the outsourcing industry, you may face certain logistical challenges when working with a Filipino VA.
Power Outage in Philippines
Don’t be alarmed if your virtual assistant disappears mid-conversation. He might just be facing a temporary power outage.
Philippines has scheduled power outages as a result of weak infrastructure. In these outages, one area at a time will be without power for a certain time. If you have multiple virtual assistants from the Philippines, it’s quite possible that they might not be able to work simultaneously.
Without power your VA can only engage in offline tasks through their laptop, severely hampering his/her productivity.
Fortunately, Filipinos are notified when their area would receive a power cut. You can use this information to plan a working schedule around the power outage. Prepare a list of offline tasks which your virtual assistant can do while waiting for the power to return.
Slow Internet Connection
Are your virtual assistant candidates taking a great deal of time to finish their trial tasks?
It’s unlikely that they are lazy or they don’t want the job. They simply may have a poor internet connection. If you do hire them, the slow and unreliable connection will make the work very difficult.
Ask your candidates whether they have a fast reliable Internet connection at home. You can also request a screenshot of their SpeedTest results.
Economical and Efficient Virtual Assistants
With more talented Filipino workers looking for online work, searching for a VA has become really easy. Online recruitment services and job boards allow you to hire a Filipino virtual assistant in a week’s time. Moreover, Filipino workers are educated, efficient and proactive – traits that are highly valuable in a virtual assistant.
What’s more? You can hire them at a price lower than what you would have to spend for a full-time employee. Where else can you hire dedicated employees for a price lower than the market rate?
Let your virtual assistant from the Philippines handle the repetitive yet important jobs for you, so you can focus on building a successful business.