What is an Online Personal Assistant?

Sheri Cyprus

An online personal assistant is a person who works on a telecommuting, work-at-home basis providing secretarial support. He or she may work for one client or have several regular clients. Online personal assistants may have transitioned to a work-at-home job after holding a similar position at an on-site business. Although personal assistant jobs don't usually require formal education or training, business experience is expected. Having corporate contacts is also a good way for an online personal assistant to build a solid client base.

Personal assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.
Personal assistants are generally responsible for keeping their client's life organized.

Many corporate executives hire online personal assistants to complete routine tasks. This way the executive has more time for meetings and completing projects to meet the objectives of upper management. An online personal assistant may be hired to do tasks such as reply to client emails, edit reports and schedule appointments for the executive. An online personal assistant is expected to keep client information confidential, and clients may expect a confidentiality agreement to be signed.

An online personal assistant may be tasked with writing letters for their employers to sign and mail.
An online personal assistant may be tasked with writing letters for their employers to sign and mail.

Online personal assistants often work as independent contractors. An independent contractor pays his or her own taxes and insurance. An online personal assistant usually works at home and is often a mother. If she's expected by a client to make customer phone calls, she must be sure to avoid having children making noise in the background. Usually this isn't a problem since most online personal assistants can organize client work around their own schedule as long as it's within the office hours that clients expect.

Computer skills are important for an online personal assistant, but most client work requires only basic business software such as Microsoft Office or similar programs. A personal assistant usually prefers to have a base of regular clients to have a steady workload. One disadvantage to working at home is being able to adequately promote your business services to keep getting new clients.

Some online personal assistants prospect for new clients by cold calling. Cold calling means telephoning possible clients and mentioning the services that can be provided to solve their company’s secretarial needs. Answering the potential client's questions and following up the call by sending a resume, website and/or work samples is typically done.

An online personal assistant may make travel arrangements for clients. Online personal assistants may also make phone calls to confirm their client's travel itinerary and plans to attend meetings. Some online personal assistants also do computer research for clients as well as write business letters.

There are a growing number of telecommuting firms that provide virtual personal assistant services.
There are a growing number of telecommuting firms that provide virtual personal assistant services.

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