4 min read
(OFS = Online Filipino Specialist. You don’t want to hire a “VA”,
you want a specialist who is really good at their job.)
If you really just want a general talented VA, that’s easy to find too.
My name is John Jonas. I hired my first VA in 2005. It changed my life. I created this to get you answers to the questions I most often get asked.
The short answer: YES!
I've hired talented programmers, designers, content writers, SEO, people to do lead generation, data entry, make phone calls, customer service...
Paul H. hired an investment banking analyst in the Philippines. "He's a $250,000/year person in the US and we're paying him $1,500/month and he's amazing."
Melissa E. hired a "VA" who has a JD (law degree) in the Philippines. They call her their "litigation paralegal" because she can't legally act as an attorney in the US. She takes all kinds of burden off their attorneys.
I know people who have hired CAD designers, engineers, E-commerce experts, financial planners, realtors (yes, the Philippines has the "Realtor" brand), email marketers, someone to design and send physical mailers... Basically anything that can be done online or on a computer, you can find someone who is talented at it in the Philippines.
The talent you'll find in the Philippines is on par with what you'll find in the USA, but at 1/10 the cost.
Trust is interesting. Anytime something is unfamiliar to us we don't trust it.
And yet, Filipinos (generally) are more trustworthy than people in the US, or in Canada, or the UK, or ...
There's a culture of honesty in the Philippines with foreign bosses. It's different there. You'll see this almost immediately upon hiring someone.
They want to make you happy. They want you to trust them. They want to do great work for you.
Of note... in the Philippines they feel the same way. They don't trust you.
How do you find and qualify that person you can trust?
Start at OnlineJobs.ph. It's a giant job board just for Philippines VAs.
It's like indeed.com, but specifically for the Philippines.
There are almost 2,000,000 profiles of Filipino workers in the database.
Post a job, Filipino workers apply. It's simple and free. You'll get lots of applications.
Ask lots of questions. Do this via email, it's much faster than doing a live interview. You'll quickly see who you can trust and who you can't. Ask about:
You'll see their personality and weed out the bad from the good.
If you ask a lot of questions you'll figure out pretty quickly if you can trust the person you're talking with.
Have them do a test task. Something small. Something simple for you to ask them to do. Bad apples don't want to jump through hoops.
If you follow a good recruiting process (more on this at the end of the page), finding someone you can trust is easy. However, in the end, trust is earned, and they will try to earn your trust.
Here's the thing. If you get a recommendation to a VA it's because someone else is working with that VA. If you now hire that VA, that means they're taking on 2 different jobs at the same time. At some point, that VA is going to take a 3rd and a 4th job.
This means turnover for you and turnover for me and turnover is disastrous.
If I find a great VA it's because I recruited someone and worked with them. Would you recommend one of your best employees to me?
I didn't think so.
Filipinos are super loyal. When you work with them and treat them well, they don't jump ship to another job just because they get offered higher pay...unless you're recommending them all over the place. If you want a recommendation, go use fiverr or upwork. You'll get lots of recommendations...but you're also guaranteed 100% turnover.
If you'll put in a little work on the front end you'll find yourself a long-term, stable, honest, reliable VA who will stick with you. This is worth so much more than a recommendation. The first VA I ever hired from the Philippines (in 2005) still works for me today. He's AMAZING!
If you do it right, it shouldn't take more than 2-3 hours (total) of your time.
I lay out the whole process I use at OneVAAway.com. From start to finish, including watching the 7 steps of videos, you should have a great VA hired in under 3 hours of your time.
Your success rate will be ~80-90%.
Or you can go try an agency who will "vet" people for you. Your success rate will be around 40-50%. It will take you around 1.5 hours with each person you try...plus some training time.
Here's a secret...the agency is using OnlineJobs.ph to find people.
Doing it yourself seems so difficult until you try it.
There are a number of things you can do.
Use a password manager like LastPass
It allows you to share access to accounts without them ever seeing the password. You can revoke their access at any time. With this, you never have to worry about them hijacking an account because they never had the password in the first place.
Don't give full access at first.
Give more access to things as you trust them more.
The Philippines is a very strict country.
Theft laws are very strict. The government there understands that VAs are an important part of the economy, so they made digital theft punishments TWICE as much as normal theft. They don't want to steal your sensitive info.
The VA you hire will be just like a VA in your office.
In your office someone could steal sensitive info. A VA could steal sensitive info. In the Philippines they're less likely to because of theft laws. Also because that info isn't very valuable to them.
You should take steps to protect yourself. They're not hard. Don't give a new VA the keys to the kingdom.
I've seen hundreds of thousands of employers hire VAs from the Philippines. I've seen very few cases of theft, and almost every one of them was because an employer tried to get someone to do work and then not pay them for the work.
Salaries range from $400 - $2000/month for full-time work.
At $400 you're getting someone with no experience. They can do data entry work.
Around $700/month is where you'll start to find really competent people. People with a couple years experience, perfect english, knowledge to contribute to your business.
You can find the cream of the crop above $1000/month.
Salaries for part-time work are about 65% of full-time work. It's not half as much for half the work because it's not considered stable work. They can't support their family on part-time work so it's more risky. It's still really affordable for you.
At $3 you're getting a complete beginner.
At $15 you're getting someone who is an expert.
Filipinos usually prefer salaried work. Hourly pay is always considered temporary in the Philippines. Turnover.
You can definitely hire someone hourly. Usually though you'll have better luck offering full-time or part-time work.
From the US, the Philippines is 12-14 hours ahead of us. It's the other side of the world.
From the UK, the Philippines is 8 hours ahead.
You can get someone to work on your timezone (ie. they work 9am-5pm EST). To have success with this, make sure they're already used to it during the hiring process. Don't try to hire someone who is used to working day time hours and then have them convert to working their night time. It's too difficult.
Almost all my VAs work whenever they want. I find my working day overlaps with them at some point during the day. Some of them work late at night so I overlap with them in my morning. Some of them work early in the morning so I overlap with them in my afternoon.
If I want to talk with them, I do it when we overlap. I find they're happier this way.
If you want them to work specific hours that's totally fine. Just specify this when you post your job.
I'm not a CPA or an attorney so I'm not qualified in any way to give you tax advice.
You should talk to your accountant or attorney.
But in my experience, the only tax implication is the wages you pay them are a deduction on your taxes. That's it.
You should have them fill out a W-8BEN. It says they're a foreign independent contractor. Keep it for your records.
There's no 1099 (they're not in the US). There's no withholding (they're not paying US taxes...they're not in the US). There's no government requirements. There are no required benefits. There's no way to consider them an "employee" in your country. They're an independent contractor.
Here's a full treatment on taxes
The first person you hire should be to do something you know how to do.
There, I said it.
Most people will tell you "Outsource the things you don't know how to do and stick with what you're good at." This is terrible advice from people who work 60 hours/week and are bad managers.
If you want to make this easy on yourself, and have the best chance of success, hire someone to do something you know how to do and something you're currently doing in your business.
If you do it this way:
Hiring someone to do something you don't know how to do does the opposite.
Yes, you can hire someone to build your website (something you DON'T know how to do). But do that later. First, hire someone to take something off your plate.
You'll thank me later.
I'm almost ready... but I want more help.
My One VA Away Challenge is for you!
It's a detailed layout of my 7 step hiring process.
It will help you avoid mistakes, easily post an effective job, quickly weed out the bad and find the good, and hire a great VA in no time.
It's $49 and I guarantee you'll find a great VA or I give your money back. No risk, no brainer.
I'm not convinced yet.
Great. We have more help. See what others are saying.
Below are a bunch of videos we've found on youtube from other people talking about hiring VAs. Learn from them.