As the virtual assistant industry has grown and become a more popular option, virtual assistant firms, as well as independent virtual assistants who live overseas have popped up all over the place.
The primary plus of hiring a virtual assistant who lives overseas is that you can often do so for much lower wages. That is a plus to be heavily considered, for sure, but unless you truly can’t afford to pay someone more than what amounts to minimum wage in the U.S., there are many reasons to pay more and hire a U.S. based assistant. Here are a few reasons to hire a VA who is based in the U.S. rather than one who lives overseas.
English is a First Language of Most Virtual Assistants Who are Based in the U.S.
Many people born in places such as the Philippines and India speak English, and some in fact speak excellent English. So I definitely would not go as far as to say that you cannot find a VA in Asia who does not have good English skills. However, even those with very good English will often use words in a slightly different way, or use words that most Americans do not.
This issue is less important if the only person the VA communicates with is you. As long as you can clearly understand them, English being a second language will not matter. If, however, your VA will interact with clients on your behalf, it is better to have one who speaks and writes English like an American, because she is an American. Clients may be put off by having to deal with someone who speaks with a strong foreign accent, or writes in a way that is somehow just a little off.
Subtle Cultural Differences of Virtual Assistants Who Live Abroad
Most virtual assistants who live abroad have been trained in American culture. Therefore, it is possible to hire a VA who lives in countries such as India or the Philippines, who has at least a general understanding of the cultural differences. However, it is important to note that cultural differences can be very subtle, and it is easy for someone from a different culture to miss subtle hints that indicate how a client feels about something. Again, this is more of an issue if you have your VA interact with clients on your behalf. If you are only person who will interact with your VA, a few cultural blunders on the part of your assistant may not matter as much.However, even then, there may be misunderstandings as a result of looking at things through a different cultural lens.
Strengthen the U.S. Economy
I’ll be the first to admit that I do buy some foreign made goods and at times outsource work to countries such as India. However, we are all impacted when money leaves U.S. shores, and we all benefit when the U.S. economy is strong. A way to strengthen the economy is to employ people within the U.S. who will then spend the money they earn in the U.S.
When to Hire a Foreign VA
There truly are some excellent virtual assistants who live overseas. Because of that, in spite of the advantages of hiring a U.S. based assistant, here are some reasons why you may want to hire a VA who lives somewhere in Asia:
You’re just starting your business and truly can’t afford to pay American wages. The work you need to have done doesn’t require much, if any, interaction with clients. Strong English skills are not required. You prefer to have someone working while you are sleeping.
One great possibility is to hire a solid VA who is based in the U.S. to do much of your work, and then hire a foreign-based VA to do occasional projects such as web design, or tasks such as data entry that require little communication and a lower level of English mastery.