How to Hire a Virtual Assistant in 2023 (My Experience)

by John-Paul Cody


Have you ever felt like there’s not enough hours in the day?

After months of feeling this way several years ago, I hired my first virtual assistant.

Little did I know that hiring a virtual assistant would be the best thing I ever did for my business.

Since then, I’ve spent years refining my hiring process, and today I’m going to share the best way how to hire a remote assistant step-by-step so you can free up your time.

What is the best place to hire a virtual assistant?

In my experience, the best place to hire a virtual assistant is Upwork, because your payment is held in escrow during the project in addition to the massive pool of VA talent looking for work.

I’ve hired dozens of virtual assistants on Upwork over the years, and continue to have a great experience.


If you’re wondering, are virtual assistants worth it on Upwork, here are my top reasons:

  • Large pool of virtual assistants looking for work (I usually get 10-20 applications in the first 24hrs)
  • Easy to use messaging feature
  • Payment held in escrow throughout the project to protect both parties
  • Robust job posting capabilities that simplify the hiring process (you can add: screening questions, project description, and invite highly rated freelancers to apply)

But what’s even more important than the platform is your hiring process.

If you aren’t hiring effectively, you’ll run into headaches even with the best VA marketplace. So, here’s my battle tested process for hiring a remote assistant after working with dozens over the years.

How to hire a virtual assistant?

How to hire a virtual assistant can be broken down into six key steps: ensure it’s a VA friendly job, select your platform, create your job posting, review applications, extend an offer to the best candidate, and kick off your project.

We’ll dive deeper into each of these steps below.

1. Ensure the Job is VA Friendly

Virtual assistants are capable of a wide variety of computer based tasks. In fact, I can’t think of too many things a VA wouldn’t be capable of doing.

For example, VAs can help you make money selling digital art or sell things on eBay.

Check out this list of 50 tasks if you need a few more ideas.


Considering the versatility of virtual assistants, there’s no doubt it’s one of the best future proof careers.

The only real limitation is your ability to create follow-able instructions, which we’ll get to in a minute.

2. Sign Up to a Virtual Assistant Marketplace

My favorite place to hire a virtual assistant is Upwork (as mentioned above). But there are plenty of other platforms like Fiverr as well.

Before you can hire though, you need to set up a marketplace account, which asks for basic stuff like name and email.


Once your account is setup (should only take a few minutes) you are ready to craft your job posting, which needs several key ingredients to be successful.

3. Create a Detailed Job Description

A poorly written job description will destroy your virtual assistant project before it’s even started.

It’s no different than if someone attempted to hire you for a job, and was vague about your job responsibilities, how much you’d make, and the project’s duration.

Most people would run the other direction, or worse, sign on and have zero intention of actually working.

Creating a thorough job description sets clear expectations for you and the VA.

A virtual assistant job description should include:

  • Job responsibilities for the VA
  • The project goal
  • The project budget
  • The project timeline

Here’s an example of a job description I’ve used for past projects.


Tactic for Success:

Adding screening questions is one of the best ways to filter candidates. Not only does it provide additional information to determine project fit, but you can begin to gauge their interest by the quality of their response (i.e they give 1-3 word answers vs thorough paragraphs)

4. Review Application Submissions

After posting your job, applications should start rolling in over the next 1-2 days.

If you aren’t receiving many applications, it’s likely one of these issues: (1) your job description was not descriptive enough, or (2) your budget is not competitive.

One super helpful feature in Upwork is the work history data on candidates – showing information like job success and money earned.


During the hiring process, I look for these qualities in a virtual assistant

  • High success rate from previous jobs (90% or higher)
  • Some amount of money earned on the platform ($1k or higher)
  • High quality answers to screening questions
  • Has the extensive experience related to the project at hand

If you have additional questions for an applicant, you can easily follow up via Upwork’s chat feature.

5. Extend an Offer to Hire a Virtual Assistant

After finding a candidate that looks like a good fit, I share a Google Doc with them that outlines more in-depth instructions for the project before hiring.

For larger projects, you might consider using something more thorough like a statement of work (SOW).

This is an important step, because it ensures the VA understands what they are signing up for. I learned this hard way as some candidates apply to projects without fully reading what the job entails.

Getting them to review the project instructions beforehand, will save you time and headache.

If everything looks good to them, I extend an offer through Upwork.


After sending an offer, the candidate has the opportunity to review the details, and then either accept or decline.

6. Kick Off the Project

Once they accept, the project budget will be put in escrow (i.e. Upwork holds the money in their possession until the project is complete to protect both parties).

Congratulations you successfully hired a virtual assistant, and are ready to start your project!

Is it safe to hire a virtual assistant?

Hiring a virtual assistant is just as safe as hiring any other type of properly vetted employee in my experience, as most tasks handled by virtual assistants should not require use of sensitive information. 

If virtual assistants will be working with sensitive information, you can ask them to sign a non-disclosure agreement. But even then, it does not fully guarantee a safe experience as this is never the case when hiring someone.

If the virtual assistant is working with sensitive or personal information, it’s best to connect with an attorney.

That said, I’ve worked with virtual assistants for years, and have had a wonderful experience.

How to train a virtual assistant?

In my experience, providing clear and detailed instructions is the best way how to train a virtual assistant. It’s as simple as creating a Google Doc that outlines exactly what you want the VA to help with.

Make sure you give them an opportunity to ask questions before getting started, and then have several check-ins as the project progresses.

In situations where someone has a bad experience with a VA, more often than not, the employer didn’t provide clear enough instructions and support.

Virtual Assistant Cost

Virtual assistant costs vary depending on the scope of work, VA location, and level of expertise required. However, in my experience virtual assistants hourly rate ranges from $4-$12 on average.

The most common rate people pay for an overseas VA is $4-$6/hour. However, for VAs based in the United States and Canada, this rate is closer to $12/hour and higher.

Senior level virtual assistants with advanced expertise and dependable track records, start around $15/hour and go as high as $55/hour.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this guide makes hiring virtual assistants a breeze. If you have any questions, let me know below!

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John-Paul Cody has been an avid online seller for years, across platforms including eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and more. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill, and works in data analytics and marketing.

About the Author

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John-Paul Cody has been an avid online seller for years, across platforms including eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and more. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from UNC Chapel Hill, and works in data analytics and marketing.