In this article, we share a template for creating a virtual executive assistant job description (JD).
We’ll describe what the template includes, explain why it’s more useful than other templates you’ll find online, and provide a link to make your own copy and use it.
Then, we’ll discuss 3 key mistakes that companies make as they progress through the virtual assistant hiring process. Specifically:
- They look for candidates in the wrong places.
- They focus on the wrong criteria when evaluating candidates.
- They don’t concretely measure the qualities that predict on-the-job success.
These mistakes often lead founders and executives to have bad experiences with virtual assistants. Below we’ll help you understand how to avoid these and improve your chances of making a good hiring decision.
Then, before we wrap up, we’ll share the hiring methodology we’ve developed to more rigorously vet assistants and find top talent for clients of our virtual executive assistant service.
Note: Our unique hiring methodology enables us to find world-class virtual executive assistants for our service. We hire roughly 1 out of every 1,000 candidates. If you’ve been wanting an assistant but haven’t had the time to hire one, or you want to shortcut the hiring process, click here to get started. You can try an assistant for a month or two and see how you like it. For testimonials from our clients, check out our homepage.
A Free Template for Creating Your Own Virtual Executive Assistant Job Description
When we looked at the virtual assistant job description templates being offered online, we noticed that they consisted mostly of generic administrative tasks. They didn’t make the assistant role sound dynamic or exciting—but that’s what the best candidates are looking for.
There are really smart, driven people in the job market looking for remote executive assistant work. But they want to pursue jobs at interesting companies in roles that seem challenging, require high level responsibilities, offer room for growth, and have other qualities that career-focused individuals look for when exploring job opportunities. If you put in minimal effort and post a generic looking job description, you won’t attract these people—you’ll attract the opposite.
Creating a job description that captures the interest of great candidates requires thought, effort, and customization. Companies need to put themselves in the shoes of the talented, motivated professionals seeking these roles, and create JDs that will stand out to them.
This is what we’ve designed our template to help you do. It’s not a generic list of bullets with boilerplate language. It’s a template with prompts and advice to help you create a JD that’s actually compelling.
The template, which you can make a copy of here, is broken down into the following sections:
- Company Background: Most of the time when candidates apply to assistant jobs, they’ve never heard of the companies they’re applying to. So introducing them to what your company does and what it stands for is important for catching their interest and providing them with context about who they’d be working for.
- Description of the Role: This section lists the virtual assistant’s responsibilities and paints the picture of what the job will look like and require on a day-to-day basis. It’s key for candidates to understand if it’s a job that they want to do, as well as whether or not they would be a good fit for the role.
- Desired Abilities and Traits: This section describes the abilities and traits that candidates will need to be successful in the role. We tend to focus on generalist abilities like problem solving and communication versus specific virtual assistant skills (more on this below).
- Role Logistics: Including a section on practical logistics of the role—things like the timezone your EA will be working in, any special equipment they may need, or the software programs they’ll use—is often overlooked. But this is actually an important section to include because it provides further context to help candidates understand if they’re a good fit to apply.
- Final Big Picture Details: This section concludes your JD by zooming out, tying everything together, and inspiring great candidates to apply.
We’ve written previously about the rationale behind each of these sections, as well as mistakes to avoid and how to get them right. Check out our article on executive assistant job descriptions for further detail on each section.
Now, while a compelling job description can help you attract great candidates, actually finding and selecting the right candidate among applicants is what will ultimately lead to a lasting and successful engagement with your assistant. The evaluation process is the hard part—and it’s where a lot of companies make mistakes that cause them to hire the wrong people.
In the next section we’ll take a closer look at the 3 big mistakes we see companies make as they progress through the hiring process.
3 Mistakes That Lead Companies to Have Unsuccessful Virtual Assistant Engagements
Mistake #1: They Look for Candidates in the Wrong Places
It’s common for companies to begin the hiring process by looking for virtual assistants on freelance marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr. However, we generally advise against using sites like these.
Even if you want an assistant for very basic administrative tasks, such as spreadsheet data entry, it’s often challenging to find one who’s reliable. It’s not uncommon to waste time trying to interview or meet with them and then get ghosted or flaked on.
Plus, there’s a catch-22 of marketplace platforms: Newcomers who might be affordable and ready to dedicate themselves to you full-time are nearly impossible to identify, while those who get lots of gigs and look compelling are typically already fully booked up and charge the highest prices.
Instead of using freelance marketplaces, we recommend using LinkedIn when hiring domestically in the U.S., or regional job boards when hiring internationally.
Mistake #2: They Focus on the Wrong Criteria When Evaluating Candidates
There’s a common set of criteria that companies often look for when reviewing resumes and selecting candidates to interview. These include things such as past years of experience in an administrative assistant role, how long they were at their past job, or whether they attended a top university.
Companies think that based on these criteria, they can safely assume candidates have certain qualities they’re looking for. Examples of these types of assumptions include:
- Past experience as an assistant = strong time management skills, organizational skills, and multitasking ability
- At their last job for a number of years = reliability and commitment
- Attended a top university = smarts and problem-solving ability
But in our experience, these assumptions aren’t reliable for predicting on-the-job performance and success in the executive assistant role. In fact, focusing on these can often rule out the best candidates.
For example, being a great assistant doesn’t require past experience—it requires a set of key generalist abilities that people from all backgrounds can have. By dismissing people without past assistant experience, you can lose out on the absolute best candidates that have all of the right qualities for the job.
Instead, companies should focus on the abilities and traits that make great assistants. Specifically, we’ve found that the following key qualities predict success in an assistant role:
- Problem-Solving Ability: How smart are they? Can they figure things out in new and complex situations?
- Key Character and Behavioral Traits: Are they highly motivated, resilient, detail-oriented, etc.?
- Communication Ability: How well do they write and communicate? How are their verbal communication skills? Can they communicate on your behalf or alongside you with key stakeholders (executive team members, board members, investors, etc.)?
- Tech-Savviness: How comfortable are they with learning new technologies and software? How quickly can they pick up and learn the programs that modern companies use to run their businesses? (e.g. Notion, Asana, Slack, Superhuman, Airtable, Excel, Zoom, etc.)
By focusing on these qualities, you’ll be much more likely to select an individual that performs well on the job. However, to evaluate these qualities, you need to do more than review resumes and interview candidates—which brings us to the next mistake.
Mistake #3: They Don’t Thoroughly Measure Candidates on the Qualities That Matter
In addition to focusing on the wrong criteria when evaluating candidates, companies don’t tend to have a thorough approach for measuring generalist abilities and traits (e.g. problem solving, communication, etc.). So even if they focus on finding people with the right types of qualities, they still base their hiring decisions on relatively superficial variables, such as how well candidates respond to interview questions.
Companies therefore hire people before they have concrete evidence that the assistant can perform the responsibilities required of them at the level they’re looking for. And as a result, they often hire people who seemed good on paper and came off competent in their interview, but for whatever reason don’t work out well in the role.
The alternative to this is to use additional tools during the hiring process to assess the actual work of candidates before hiring them. This is a key part of the approach we take at Persona that has allowed us to consistently deliver top talent for our clients.
In the next section, we’ll walk through the methodology we’ve built that corrects these common mistakes, and share how our virtual executive assistant service works.
The Hiring Methodology We’ve Developed to Find Top Assistant Talent
We’ve applied our backgrounds in behavioral science and assessment design to develop a flexible, adaptive hiring methodology that rigorously evaluates virtual assistant candidates on the key qualities we described above: problem solving ability, communication ability, character and behavioral traits, and tech-savviness.
Instead of relying solely on resume review and interviews, we use a tailored mix of the following when assessing candidates:
- Quantitative assessments: Tests that allow us to evaluate candidates accurately on key generalist abilities.
- Structured interviews: A strategic interview process to cross-compare candidates on the qualities and abilities that matter.
- Work sample projects: Mock projects to see the quality of their work, based on the types of tasks they’re likely to do in a virtual EA role.
- Communication exercises: Exercises to evaluate candidates on key communication skills such as email etiquette.
- Reference and background checks: A structured approach to interviewing candidates’ references.
By using additional assessments, exercises, and work sample projects, we’re able to see the quality of candidates’ work—the exact types of work they’ll be responsible for managing on the job—before they’re hired. While this is a time-consuming process, it allows us to get concrete evidence of candidates’ abilities and ensure they have what it takes to succeed in the role.
This has allowed us to find the absolute best virtual executive assistants in the market. Presently, we hire roughly 1 in every 1,000 candidates that we assess. And the rigor of our hiring process enables us to offer assistants whose services go beyond basic administrative support.
For example, our assistants manage customized combinations of the following for our clients:
- Communications and email management: Act as the executive’s main point of contact, communicating on their behalf and alongside them with key stakeholders. Sit in on phone calls, draft messaging for company-wide communications, etc.
- Scheduling and calendar management: Manage an executive’s calendar, schedule meetings and appointments, resolve scheduling issues, balance personal appointments with work meetings.
- Project management: Manage the CEO’s to-dos, ensure they stay up to date and on track with their key projects.
- Business operations: Help create, organize, and improve on internal business processes and standard operating procedures. Assist with bookkeeping, data entry, and other relevant administrative tasks.
- Marketing and social media management: Create and schedule social media posts, keep social media accounts up to date, monitor engagement metrics, respond to comments, help grow an overall online presence.
- People operations: Manage employee onboarding, assist in the employee recruitment process (e.g. reviewing resumes and cover letters for certain criteria), manage payroll, etc.
- Strategic planning: Work with the company leaders to define and come up with plans for new products, initiatives, and services. Project manage some or all of these new company programs.
- Client services: Handle important interactions with clients. Provide ideas and feedback about how to improve systems and processes.
- Special projects: Manage a wide variety of unique projects depending on what your executive needs. For example, our EAs have worked on things like graphic design, video editing, performing market research, designing Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentations, event planning, workflow design, building or compiling spreadsheet data sets, and more.
- Personal assistant tasks: Help make online orders, reservations, travel arrangements and itineraries, and other accommodations for executives’ personal lives.
Want to Shortcut the Hiring Process? Try Our Remote Executive Assistant Service
If you’re a founder, entrepreneur, small business owner, or senior executive interested in trying out one of our EAs, you can try one for a month or two and see how you like it. We require no long-term commitments.
Here’s how to get started with us:
- Step 1: Complete our form to let us know your needs.
- Step 2: If you’re a good fit, we’ll set up a call to discuss our service with you.
- Step 3: Our team will hand pick an assistant who we think will be a great fit for you based on your needs.
- Step 4: Our talent team will guide you through the onboarding process over 2-3 weeks.
- Step 5: For a flat monthly rate, you get a world-class assistant that equates to a full-time employee (40 hours of remote work per week, with no long-term commitment needed).