Considering hiring a personal assistant, looking for guidance and expereinces.
May 13, 2010 5:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering hiring a part-time personal assistant to help with research, lightweight QA, and various smaller tasks. I'm an independent developer and technology consultant. I have a general sense of how I would like this to work: how much I would like to pay, what my expectations are, etc. But! I'm having a hard time finding good specific info. What should I expect to pay? What sort of person should I look for? Where should I look? Are their legal or tax implications I'm not aware of? Is this just a bad idea?

I guess this is a somewhat vague question, but I'm reaching the point in my professional life where I feel I need an extra set of hands on some things -- mostly, like I said, research-related. I have the money for it and I'm willing to be generous, but I don't want to offer something that's way out of alignment with what a usual rate of pay would be. I also don't want to create a ton of additional overhead if I have to jump through legal hoops. And I want to be as fair as possible with whomever I work with -- and I want them to feel good about working with me.

Also: I want to make sure I'm dotting my t's and crossing my i's as far as making sure I do what I need to do to keep private information of mine that they'll be exposed to private. Stuff like that.

Anyway: If you have experience with this sort of thing (on either side -- hiring or being employed like this), I'd love to hear about it. Or if you know a good resource to learn more.

And, yes: If I had a research assistant, this is exactly the sort of thing I'd put them on figuring out. ;-)

Thank you!
posted by chasing to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on what you want and where you'd prefer to hire from, but Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Workweek has some pretty extensive information (including pricing, how to test them, how to properly communicate to save you and them time) about offshoring to PA/EA companies.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:25 PM on May 13, 2010

Response by poster: Hm. Well, I'm less interested in overseas. I'd honestly rather pay more and have someone over here. For a variety of reasons. But maybe I'll check out that book. Read the first couple of chapters once and was kind of turned off by Mr. Ferriss, I hate to say.
posted by chasing at 7:38 PM on May 13, 2010

Best answer: I've worked as a PA, and know lots of people who either have one or have been one. I can't really speak to the tax side of things, as people in NYC do this lots of different ways. Some people pay as much in cash as they can under the table, if their business gives them access to that kind of cash. Others bring the person on as an employee (W2, etc.) at an incredibly low hourly rate, and then round out that amount with additional cash. Still others pay the full rate in the form of a company-cut check. Your accountant (if that's someone other than yourself) should advise you. Similarly, your lawyer should be able to draft up a handy confidentiality agreement if you are sincerely worried about privacy.

But honestly when it comes to the privacy issue, a confidentiality agreement would only help you after the damage has been done. And that's why you should make sure to do the pesky work of checking people's references, no matter how nice they seem in person. I can't tell you how many jobs I've gotten or been a candidate for in which nothing was checked up on.

Meet with as many prospective candidates as you have the time to -- this is a big city and help can present itself in many different forms. You may want to establish an introductory period with a couple specific projects to work on before committing fully to an arrangement.

The rate can be tricky to decide. If the job doesn't involve travel, long hours, extraordinarily specialized skills, or extra duties like childcare, then $15 - $20 an hour is a reasonable place to begin -- go lower and you still may find someone, but you're going to see a sharp decline in the quality of applicants, and a steep incline in less-experienced ones looking for a leg up.
posted by hermitosis at 7:54 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Post your ad in the local college newspaper classified section and be sure to mention your current occupation. Job postings along these lines were not unusual on my campus, and people who wanted to pursue a future in a matching field perceived them as great resume-enhancing opportunities, in addition to the benefit of gaining a mentor in their chosen career track. Be perfectly clear, however, if you are not willing to take on a mentor relationship if you choose to hire current undergrads, or write recommendation letters for graduate school.
posted by halogen at 9:14 PM on May 13, 2010

I think this would be the perfect occasion to explore Temp agencies. It would solve multiple needs: testing, training, payroll, taxes...and you'd have one monthly bill. Reputable agencies have a great recruiting system so you should have no trouble finding the perfect PA. Long term temp assignments are normal.
posted by PixieS at 4:36 AM on May 14, 2010

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