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HIRING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
When to Hire a Virtual Assistant
If you want to continue to grow your business – and keep your sanity in the process – it’s essential to let go of the idea that you have to do everything in your business. In fact, not only do you not have to do everything in your business, you shouldn’t do everything in your business.
We’re going to explain why in more detail below, but first let’s take a look at some of the telltale signs that it’s time to hire a virtual assistant.
To accelerate their growth, business owners should hire a VA when they begin struggling to focus on strategy, clients, sales, and content creation. The likely cause of their struggle is too much time tied up in routine administrative, marketing, and financial tasks. Hiring a VA to manage those day-to-day tasks frees the owner up to work on revenue-generating business activities.
Hire a Virtual Assistant Before You’re Too Swamped
Ideally, a business owner recognizes they’re approaching capacity before they’re buried in their business. This allows them to take time to track where they spend their time, document how they perform routine tasks, and determine which they are willing and able to delegate. (In the next section, we’ll walk you through how to go through that process for yourself and identify what you should stop doing and delegate to someone else.)
If you’re in this position, a gut check is probably all that you need to recognize that something’s gotta give. But just in case you need a little validation, here are some of the signs that it’s time for you to hire a VA.
- You’re spending most of your time – or simply more than you’d like to – on routine administrative tasks.
- You’re out of control – you’re missing deadlines and tasks are falling through the cracks.
- You’re turning work away.
- You’re working all the time just to keep up.
- Your family is complaining they never see you.
- You have big ideas you have no time to implement.
- You’re super stressed and it’s taking a toll on your health.
- Your business use to excite you, but now it bums you out.
- You’re not spending enough time in your zone of genius.
Hire a Virtual Assistant Before You Think You’re “Ready”
In the Charlie Gilkey quote above, he notes that many entrepreneurs don’t feel ready to give up some of the tasks that have brought them to this stage in their business. They think they must keep doing what they’ve been doing in order to continue to achieve success. Chris Ducker also refers to this as “Superhero Syndrome,” and notes that it leads to burnout and that the solution is to learn to delegate.
Find Out What You Need to Stop Doing
One of the reasons you don’t feel ready is simply because you have neither examined the value of your time nor defined your “genius tasks.” In his book The Stop Doing List, Matt Malouf defines genius tasks as, “a task that has great financial return, that you love to do, and that you are really good at.” According to Malouf, genius tasks usually fall under sales, marketing, team management, product or service delivery, and system development.
In the chapter titled, “Your Time Is Worth Money!” he states:
Along the way, as we became business owners, many of us lost track of knowing the value of our time. We started looking at the list of tasks we had to complete, rather than understanding what tasks or roles were essential to complete to maximise our hourly return as the business owner. Often we sacrifice our time on tasks that, however necessary they are, add nothing to the bottom line. We start treating all tasks as equal and, instead of guarding our time as our most precious commodity and carefully choosing where we will spend it, we waste it.
Calculate What Your Time is Worth
Malouf also offers a simple formula for calculating what your time is really worth, which you can use as a yardstick for assessing your activities. Calculate your hourly rate by dividing your annual income goal first by the number of weeks you want to work each year, then by the number of hours a week you intend to work. Once you calculate your rate, you use it to decide whether you’re getting a positive return on investment on the tasks you’re completing.
Get Ready to Automate and Delegate
To find out what belongs on your stop doing list, perform the 2-week time tracking activity described in the next section. Compare the tasks you’re completing, along with the amount of time they take, to your hourly rate. Anything that falls outside of your genius tasks and is worth less than your hourly rate should be automated or delegated to someone else.
So, if you feel that you’d like to hire a virtual assistant, but you’re not quite ready, that’s actually a sign to let you know that you need to get ready and figure out what you should stop doing! If you don’t, you’re going to find yourself working longer and longer hours, performing low impact tasks just to keep up with the business and hindering your ability to grow your business.
Hire a Virtual Assistant after You’ve Automated What You Can
We 100% believe that hiring a virtual assistant can be the first step toward growing and scaling your business, which will impact not only your own business and life, but it will also ripple out and create massive benefits to your local and the global economy. However, it does not make sense to hire a VA, which will cost you hundreds of dollars a month, if you haven’t first invested in automation tools for processes. Many of these tools are free (or at least have a free version that may meet your current needs or include a low-cost monthly fee.
Examples of Automation Tools
For example, Dubsado is a popular all-in-one CRM and process management tool which is popular among freelancers and other entrepreneurs. The tool can manage your leads and workflows by automating routine communication emails, invoicing and more. And the subscription will cost you just $35 a month or less, depending upon the payment plan you select.
Another app for productivity and process automation is Zapier, which can connect tasks and actions among hundreds of software tools. Zapier passes information between apps to create workflows known as “Zaps” and can automate steps in processes related to email newsletters, project management, and customer support, among many others. If you want to learn more about the kinds of things Zapier allows you to automate, they have compiled a list of over 300 popular Zaps – but the possibilities are literally almost limitless. The free level of Zapier allows you to have five active Zaps at a time and will perform 100 tasks a month via those Zaps, and the premium options start at roughly $20 each month.
If you are interested in learning more about automation, but you aren’t even sure where you might apply automation within your business, Business 2 Community covers why an automation strategy is essential and lists business functions where you can put it to use in your business.
Hire a Virtual Assistant as Soon as You Know Exactly What They’ll Do
Although we’re recommending that you hire a VA before you feel ready, you mustn’t hire a virtual assistant before you’ve gotten your business ready to hand things off. That is, don’t hire a VA until you’ve invested the time to:
- Figure out exactly what tasks they will perform.
- Determine how they’ll carry out those tasks.
- Develop a plan for training them to perform the tasks, as well as a system for communicating and monitoring work.
The upcoming sections cover how to identify tasks, how to create processes for the tasks, and how to communicate with and manage your virtual team members.
Hire a Virtual Assistant When You Need to Add Skills
This reason for hiring a VA is often overlooked. If you do the ‘stop doing’ activities and separate your genius tasks from everything else, these tasks will likely end up on your stop doing list. However, some tasks could fall into a gray area, where they are important to your bottom line, you like doing them, and you’re good at them, but they’d be better executed by someone else. Here are two scenarios where you may want to hire a virtual assistant – or someone else – to help you fill some gaps in your skills.
You Need Complementary Skills
As you go through this process of separating your genius and stop doing tasks, you may uncover areas where you need to find someone who’s better at it than you are. For example, maybe you have “scheduling social media content” on your stop doing list – which is a great one for and easy to hand off to a VA. But when you think about it a little further, you realize you’re good at coming up with content ideas, but you’re either not great writing them or you simply hate writing. Therefore, you decide that “creating social media content” also goes on your stop doing list.
Then, when it comes time to find your ideal virtual assistant, you’ll search for a content management or social media VA with some writing chops. Writing social posts becomes one more task you eliminate from your to-do list, and the content improves at the same time!
You’re Better at Vision and Strategy than Task Execution
For many business owners, especially those in more creative industries, coming up with ideas is easy but breaking down and following through on those ideas is difficult. Often, the entrepreneur is an entrepreneur because of their visionary nature. They can see the big picture and how to reach their goals strategically, but they struggle with creating the day-to-day tactics needed to execute the vision.
Hire a Virtual Assistant as an Investment in Your Business
We hope by now you can see that hiring a virtual assistant pays you dividends because it allows you to spend more time in your genius zone – and your genius zone is your money-making zone. But the idea of spending money on a VA – versus “saving” money by continuing to do everything yourself – trips up a lot of business owners, so we want to spend more time on it.
Businesses stall out when the owner is being pulled in a million directions, trying to learn and do everything in the business. But entrepreneurs with businesses that are growing quickly and consistently know that building a team around them means they’re buying back the time they need to perform the activities that grow the business. By leveraging someone else’s skills, you give yourself the time you need to focus on what’s most important in your business.
An Everyday Example
Well, for one, it’s likely to take you up to twice as long to do it yourself – and that’s not counting the time it will take you to learn the process the first time you do it.
The time and energy you’re going to save by investing in a virtual assistant is also well worth the investment. But you don’t have to go on our word for it, as you’ve created a means to measure your investment.
Expense or Investment: It’s All in the Mindset
Our CEO Barbara Turley and the aforementioned Matt Malouf dig into this mindset issue in the first episode of that three-part podcast series on the “stop doing” concepts. They discuss how most business owners initially see the cost of a virtual assistant as an expense. (Or they put off hiring a virtual assistant to avoid the new “expense.”) And initially, it is an expense because you have to invest the time to prepare for, train, and manage the new VA. But in the long run, adding virtual assistants to your team pays bigger dividends than anything else you can invest in.
If you’re ready to stop being the administrator of your company and start being its leader and you’re looking to start scaling your business, hiring a virtual assistant is the best first step you can take!
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
- Do you need to hire a full-time or part-time virtual assistant?
- Are you searching for a generalist or specialist?
- Do you prefer someone in the same time zone as you?
- Does your virtual assistant need to be a native language speaker or be well-versed in your native culture?
- Do you want to hire a freelancer or go through an agency?
Let’s help wade through the choices you need to make!
Should I Hire an Offshore or an Onshore Virtual Assistant?
The “virtual” part of virtual assistant means that you can find your VA anywhere in the world! So, let’s begin your quest for the perfect virtual assistant by helping you determine whether to look for an onshore or an offshore VA. For the sake of clarity, let’s take a brief look at what those terms mean.
“Onshore” describes individuals (companies, as well) that work domestically, whereas “offshore” refers to resources in a foreign country, typically one that is not neighboring your home country. There are benefits and drawbacks to hiring each type of VA, so we want to offer the following guidelines as you make your decision.
When an Offshore Virtual Assistant Is the Smart Choice
In choosing between onshore and offshore virtual assistants, there’s no “right” answer, but there are some factors for figuring out which is right for you and your business. Here are just a few of the situations where an offshore VA is likely the better option.
Your Budget is Limited
The primary advantage offshore VAs offer is cost savings. Virtual assistants in countries like the Philippines and India, working at rates from about $10-15 an hour, produce work that’s on par with Western VAs charging $25-50 per hour.
Because of the 60-70% cost savings, hiring an offshore virtual assistant means you can either save some money or you can maximize your budget by hiring the VA for more hours than you could afford with a domestic VA. You may find that hiring a full-time, offshore VA costs roughly what you’d pay a part-time, onshore VA. Having full-time means you can hand off more tasks and maximize your time in your genius zone.
You Want to Get Necessary but Low-Impact Tasks Off Your Plate
Offshore VAs are typically great generalists who handle a wide range of general admin tasks, including email management, appointment scheduling, creating documents, and transcription. However, they often also possess skills to take on a variety of simple, repeatable tasks you might associate more with a “specialist” VA role. Social media and content management, digital media, and systems tasks are among those tasks offshore VAs handle with ease. If you’re interested in ideas for recurring tasks for virtual assistants, we’ve detailed a variety of simple, repeatable tasks both general and specialist VAs on our blog.
You’d Enjoy Waking Up to Completed Tasks
Although you can hire an offshore VA who works during your working hours, there are benefits to having someone working for your business when you are not. For example, if it would excite you to open your inbox in the morning and see that business emails have been handled and unnecessary ones have been deleted, leaving you with only those emails that require your attention, then hiring an offshore VA could be for you!
Plus, with an offshore VA on your team, you may be able to expand your customer service hours. Your new virtual assistant could be addressing client issues on the phone or email, allowing you to provide a higher level of customer service – all while you’re sleeping!
When an Onshore Virtual Assistant Is the Way to Go
The benefits of hiring an offshore VA are pretty compelling, but there are situations where it’s important to work with an onshore VA for your business. Let’s now take a look at the conditions that warrant an onshore virtual assistant.
Your Tasks Require a Native Language Speaker
If you plan to have your VA speak to your customers on the phone – or even correspond with them via email – hiring a native English speaking is probably the wise choice. Although many offshore VAs speak superb English, you can rest assured that a language barrier won’t interfere with the level of service your business provides. Similarly, if writing or editing blog and social media posts or podcast editing are among the tasks you wish to delegate, an onshore virtual assistant is the safest bet.
Your Tasks Require a VA of the Same Culture
Not unlike the language issue, a thorough understanding of your native culture could be a requirement of your business. If that’s the case, an onshore virtual assistant is right for your business. Think about whether the tasks you want to delegate may require your VA to completely understand cultural references and nuances. For example, if you’re hoping to hire a virtual assistant to help manage members and their engagement in your Facebook group, it might be important that you select someone who will “get” every cultural reference made by the members.
You Need Someone in the Same Time Zone
As we already stated, many offshore VAs will complete their tasks during your working hours, even if they’re a dozen time zones away from you. However, it may be simpler and easier to find someone who’s geographically close to you if working “together” is your preference. If you’d like to collaborate with your VA in real-time, or you looking for someone who can help you with tasks that pop up and need to be completed “right now,” an onshore virtual assistant will be a better solution for you.
You’re Hoping for Some Strategic Thinking and Decision Making
We want to be very clear on this point. In this case, “strategic thinking” doesn’t mean involving your virtual assistant in the strategy of your business. The strategy belongs to the business owner completely. We’re merely referring to the ability to see things and make judgment calls beyond the step-by-step tasks at hand.
You’re obviously going to take our advice and create your VA’s task list, along with detailed processes and instructions, before you hire the virtual assistant. To help you decide whether you’re going to search for an onshore or offshore team member, go through tasks and their steps and decide if they can be performed by anyone with the tools and instructions. If one or more of the tasks may involve making some type of judgment call – even if the decisions to be made are simple – or the ability to think on one’s feet, the onshore VA is the wise choice.
When an Onshore and an Offshore VA Is the Perfect Pairing
At the risk of muddying the waters, we want to propose that your best option might be one (or more!) of each. To help clarify, let’s think again about why you’re hiring a virtual assistant in the first place. You can’t do it all, so you’re hiring a VA (or two!) save you from doing low-impact tasks and to work with more focus. The combination of onshore and offshore VAs might be the best way to get to that goal.
Your Requirements Vary
Once you’ve identified the tasks you want to take off your plate (or a team members’ plate!), your list will include everything you shouldn’t be doing. Specifically, repeatable, low-impact tasks, tasks you’re not good at, and any activities you simply hate doing should be on that list. That final list probably involves a wide range of tasks and skills.
For starters, it’s going to be harder to find one VA who can fill your needs, whether you’re recruiting from an offshore or an onshore pool of candidates. In addition, many tasks ought to be general administrative or other recurring tasks, but some will require decision making or specialized skills.
Why Go with Both
The smarter alternative to one, full-time VA – and the option which will maximize both budget and the impact on the business – is to add two, part-time virtual assistants. Hire one onshore and one offshore. Assign the simple, step-by-step tasks to the offshore VA and the complex or specialist ones to the onshore VA. You’ll get full-time help but in a more cost-effective way.
That’s just one solution. Because offshore is so cost-efficient, you might be able to go with a full-time, offshore VA and also hire a part-time, onshore VA. Whatever suits your budget and your business needs! You have lots of choices, so be strategic about how you allocate your investment and leverage others’ abilities to grow your business.
Am I Looking for a Full-Time or Part-Time Virtual Assistant?
Based on your list of tasks and the types of tasks on the list you created for your future virtual assistant, determine whether part-time or full-time assistance is going to work for the tasks required and your budget. Keep in mind that it will take your VA more time to complete tasks than if you completed them yourself – at least at first.
We recommend that you hire a VA on at least a half-time basis and encourage business owners to consider hiring a full-time virtual assistant. If you hire someone for fewer than 20 hours a week, that individual will need at least two or three other clients to keep them afloat. The more your VA’s attention is divided among several clients, the more likely you are to receive lower-quality work. Also, in this scenario, you run the risk of losing your VA completely when one of their other clients realizes the impact on their business and asks the VA to join their team on a full-time basis.
Why We Recommend a Full-Time Virtual Assistant
The reasoning above helps to explain why we suggest hiring a full-time virtual assistant from the outset. At first, you might feel that you can’t justify the budget for a full-time VA or that you won’t have enough work to hand off to keep the VA busy for 40 hours a week. That’s only because you haven’t yet experienced what a virtual assistant can do for you, your business, and your own productivity! And when it comes to the budget, remember: Hiring a VA is not an expense, it’s an investment in your business that will pay you dividends!
We see it all the time where business owners start with a part-time VA, only to realize how quickly their business can have a growth spurt because their part-time VA allowed them to spend more time on their genius tasks. For one, they start getting used to having more genius time and it becomes a bit “addicting” – they want even more. In addition, their focus on genius tasks leads to more business growth, so they find they need even more help to keep up.
If you’re in luck and you come to this realization before the VA’s other client(s) do, you may be able to transition your VA from part to full-time. On the other hand, the potential is there one of the VA’s other clients to beat you to the punch and offer your VA full-time work. And where does that leave you? In search of a VA. Again. And just when things were really starting to groove in your business.
Do I Go with a Freelancer or Hire Through an Agency?
A freelance virtual assistant is an independent contractor with whom you’d hire and work with directly. They work solo, from their own home or office, using their own equipment. A benefit of going with a freelancer is the ability to interview and vet them directly – which may also be a drawback.
As far as agencies, there are a few different types of structures to these services, and we’ll describe them below. But in general, they help to match you up with the right virtual assistant, taking some of the recruiting work off of your plate.
Finding a Freelancer
Freelancers can be found through referrals from your network, as well as on platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer. These are online platforms where both freelancers and business owners create profiles and search for their needs. The upside is that there are thousands of people, including VAs, who are looking for work on these platforms, which means you have a vast talent pool to tap into. The downside is also the large number of candidates – you’re likely to get hundreds of responses to the job description you post. Wading through all of the interested applicants can be overwhelming and time-consuming.
Freelancers are potentially more cost-effective than hiring through an agency because you’re not paying a premium for an agency to recruit or train them. However, the relative cost-effectiveness depends upon other factors, including whether the freelancer or agency is onshore or offshore.
Sourcing Through an Agency
As far as agencies go, you have options around how much initial and ongoing support you’ll get from working with the company. Consider types of VA companies below. Later, we’ll dive deeper into the pros and cons of working with the various models.
These companies recruit virtual assistants and help match you with the right one. Typically, they provide you with a few VAs to interview, you make a selection, and you pay the agency a one-time fee for doing that legwork for you. After you are matched with your VA, your relationship with the agency is complete. They provide no further assistance. If your VA quits or otherwise doesn’t work out, there’s no backup or replacement. You’d have to begin the process anew to replace your VA.
Virtual Assistant Company
Under this model, the company hires the VAs and, when you hire the company, you have immediate access to their entire pool of VAs of various skills and backgrounds. The company assigns the work you need to be completed to a VA with the right skills. You may or may not even communicate directly with the VA or VAs who are working on your tasks. Often, your point of contact is a project manager who’s determining which VA is doing what for their clients. Because a variety of VAs may have their hands in your work, there’s little to no risk of work stoppage because someone quit. The company simply taps into the other VAs in their talent pool to ensure your tasks are completed.
Virtual Assistant Managed Services Company
Managed services companies also do the recruiting, interviewing, testing, and hiring. The difference here is the agency will match you with candidates to interview, and you select one to become your dedicated virtual assistant. The VA becomes an employee of the managed services company, which provides the VA with office space and equipment, handles HR (e.g., they can intervene if problems arise) and payroll, as well as KPI management. You then communicate and work directly with that virtual assistant, which gives the person in that role the opportunity to learn your style and preferences and consistently produce work to your standards. However, the services company does not provide any training for the VA, so your onboarding and training process may take a bit of time.
Premium, Full-Stack Virtual Assistant Company
Premium VA companies also do the recruiting, interviewing, testing and hiring, and match you with a dedicated virtual assistant with the experience and skills you require, plus an additional layer of training and testing services.
For example, the full-stack agency trains their virtual assistants on a wide variety of commonly used software and tools, which can expedite your onboarding and training process. Often, VAs from such an agency already possess 50-70% of the knowledge and skills they need to slide right into their role on your team, which reduces the amount of time you’ll need to invest in training.
Basically, VAs from a premium company will likely join your team already familiar with many of the tools and processes you’ll want them to learn. Then the training you provide becomes more focused on teaching your VA about your preferences and way of doing things within those tools and processes. Further, agencies not only also intervene when problems occur, but they are also typically willing to add to their training programs to help you fill in a gap in your VA’s knowledge. Finally, because they have a pool of VAs, the agency can help you replace – or add! – a VA, and even provide coverage for when your dedicated VA is ill or on vacation.
What’s more, your onboarding process will likely go more smoothly and rapidly because premium agencies are steeped in process development and management and will even offer you training and assistance in onboarding your virtual assistant! For example, at The Virtual Hub, we offer high-level training to our clients, as well as to our VAs, and deliver it through a dedicated, online member site.
Finally, premium virtual assistant companies offer far more comprehensive testing and training. For example, although nearly everyone in the Philippines speaks English, some are more proficient than others, and premium companies test for English proficiency before adding a VA to their pool. In addition, business owners can be more confident about security issues in their business when they choose a premium VA company, as premium services include background and medical testing as requirements for hiring and placing a virtual assistant.
Additional Outsourcing Options
There are a few other options for outsourcing work you want to get off your plate. The services below offer the ability to offload entire functions of your business. These fall a bit beyond the scope of our topic of virtual assistants, but they are worth mentioning so that you’re familiar with all of your available avenues.
Specialist Services Company
If you discovered that the tasks you want to hand off primarily fall within a single business function, you may decide you need truly specialist skills – skills that are even beyond what a specialist virtual assistant could offer. In a case like that, you can outsource the work to an agency focused specifically on that area of expertise.
For example, if your business requires a lot of photo editing and graphic design, Design Pickle will match you with a designated professional designer who will create everything you need for a fixed monthly fee. Similarly, Rocket Lawyer and Bean Ninjas offer specialist services in legal matters and bookkeeping, respectively.
Because these companies offer truly specialist services, working with them may come at a higher cost. However, if what they offer aligns perfectly with what you need, it may be well worth the extra cash. For the design example, you could possibly save money by paying a monthly fee for unlimited graphics instead of paying a freelancer by the hour or by the piece.
Full Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Taking it one step further, there are companies, such as TaskUs, Support Ninja, and Accenture, business owners can hire to completely take over an entire department or function. Commonly outsourced functions include customer service, human resources, and procurement.
Business process outsourcing is an option when there is work that can be done more expertly or more cost-effectively by a third party that specializes in that service area. Rather than having to “reinvent the wheel” and become experts in an area beyond the main focus of their business, owners can simply hand those functions off to others who are already experts in the field. BPO is frequently used by big companies such as Uber, Amazon, and Verizon, but it can be a viable option for smaller businesses, as well.
Working with Both a Freelancer and a VA Company
Similar to how you might go with a combo of an onshore and an offshore virtual assistant to perfectly fill your needs, you might want to consider working with both a freelancer and through an agency, rather than making an either-or choice. For your more specialized tasks, it might be easier to find a freelancer who is the right fit for your specific needs, but, for more administrative tasks, it’s likely simpler and more affordable to hire a generalist VA through a company or agency.
The Investment for Each
First of all, please notice that we chose the word “investment” over “cost” because hiring a virtual assistant is truly an investment in your business which will pay you huge dividends over time. But our budgets are always a factor, so we want to address that, as well.
There is no clear-cut answer in terms of which option will be the most budget savvy. In theory, agencies are pricier because you pay the recruiter, company, or agency for the support they provide on top of paying the VA’s pay rate, whereas you avoid the middle man by paying freelancers directly. All other things being equal (e.g., hiring from the same market; considering candidates with similar experience and skills), a freelancer is usually going to be more affordable.
However, you can save significantly by choosing to look for an offshore virtual assistant, whether you go with a freelancer or an agency. The win-win combination of a VA from an offshore agency is that you will pay less for the same quality work a domestic VA would produce, and you have the support from the agency for training, coaching through issues, covering vacation and sick time, and options for replacement, if needed.
Recruiting and Selecting
At this point, you’ll be figuring out which virtual assistant companies you want to reach out to and/or where you want to post your job online to attract the right freelancers. The rest of the selection process will be roughly the same whether you go through a third party or recruit on your own. You’ll need a detailed description of the VA role in your organization, to find candidates to evaluate and interview, and to make a final decision about whom to bring on board. The primary difference will be reviewing applications yourself or having another company do that piece for you.
Creating a Job Description
Whether you’re thinking onshore or offshore, or you hope to find a freelancer or go through an agency, you will need to create a job description for the role you’re hoping to fill – although an agency will often assist you with this part, as well. Here’s where the hard work you put into identifying tasks, documenting processes, and selecting a project management tool is going to pay off!
The job description you create must be highly detailed, both in terms of what your virtual assistant will do, as well as what they will not do. At the same time, it must be realistic in terms of the qualifications you list, as well as easy to read and understand. Make sure you keep the description to 500-600 words and use headings and white space because applicants are likely to scan the post. This article from The Undercover Recruiter provides excellent – and research-backed – tips for developing a great job posting.
Choosing and Assessing Candidates
If you work with a virtual assistant company, they will send you a few of their candidates that best fit your description for you to interview. But if you decide to go the freelancer route, you’ll have the additional step of wading through all of the applicants to decide who fits your description. Keep in mind that the number of applications you receive could number anywhere from a few dozen to hundreds.
Once you know whom you’re going to interview, be sure to educate yourself on how to conduct them effectively. Recruiting is a specialized skill, so unless you have a background in HR, don’t just “wing it;” study up on interviewing techniques. Here are a few professional resources to get you started:
- How to Conduct an Effective Job Interview, by The Harvard Business Review
- How to Conduct a Job interview, by Inc. Magazine
- Interview Questions, by the Society for Human Resources Management
In addition to the interviews, you will want to verify the candidates’ skills and abilities in other ways. For example, if you’re recruiting from overseas, you may want to require an English test. VA companies will – or should – do this for you, and many of the job boards, such as Indeed, have testing options available. Finally, you’ll want to check references and either ask for work samples or have the candidates complete a few small tasks to demonstrate their competency.
Finally, beyond the candidates’ work credentials, you’ll want to take into account the types of personal characteristics you’re looking for. Take some time to get clarity on the type of person you want to be performing your tasks and to work with every day. Some HR professionals and VA agencies might tell you to look for someone with a lot in common with you – that opposites do not attract. We disagree with that perspective, at least in part.
Yes, you will want your virtual assistant to have similar work-related values. Nevertheless, someone “just like you” will have a more entrepreneurial, more visionary mindset, whereas you need someone who’s naturally more structured, focused, and detail-oriented. You do want to look for someone who has initiative and can think for themselves, but you’re looking for someone who will manage tasks and processes, not strategy or ideas. You need someone who can execute your strategy and tactics.ss podcast.