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10 Common Mistakes Made When Hiring a VA

10 Common Mistakes Made When Hiring a VA

Mistakes made when hiring a VA is more common than you might think!  Hiring a VA is a little bit different from recruiting a standard employee, doing it for the first time can be intimidating, and if you’ve had a bad experience it can put you off trying again.  However, all you really need to find your perfect match is to know what to aim for (and what to avoid) because when the match is right, the difference it can make to you and your business is unmeasurable.

For a crash course on the 10 most common mistakes business owners make when they hire a virtual assistant, keep reading!

This article is part 1 of a 2 part series on mistakes to avoid with your VA.  Be sure to read part 2: 10 Common Mistakes Made When Working With a VA.

Mistake #1: Not Setting Clear Goals

One of the worst things you can do is assume that your VA knows exactly what you want and how you want it without being told. You both need to be on the same page with your business objectives, which mean specificity and clear communication are key. If your VA knows what your vision is and their role in unlocking that success, then you are heading in the right direction. With transparent guidelines on your goals and mission that can easily be referred back to, you’ll avoid frustrating miscommunication as you go forward in your relationship.

Mistake #2: Not Setting Clear Expectations

Your VA needs a clear understanding of the scope of their work and how you expect things to be done. It’s essential to establish this early on so that your VA knows what they are getting into, which is where a job description can be helpful. When you write the position description summarise your desired skillset, the working arrangement, any required specifications and other important preferences. For example, if you have targets or deliverables you want your VA to meet, ensure that the applicants know exactly what would be expected of them.

Here’s an example of a job description we used recently to attract new EA specific virtual assistant contractors to our team.

Mistake #3: No SOPs (standard operating procedures)

Working remotely means that every process needs to be well-documented in SOPs. By taking the time now to ensure your procedures are detailed and current, the messy back and forth on how your processes should be executed is eliminated.

There are many benefits to documenting your standard operating procedures and part of your VA’s role will be to manage them as they learn your business and add to routine tasks.  Loom is a tool we use with clients to save time.  Then next time you do a task you’d like to delegate, simply screenshot it in a Loom video.  Your VA can then follow the video and document the process in an SOP.

Mistake #4: Not Taking Time to Train Your VA

A lot of business owners make the mistake of not training their VA, assuming that because they come with an advanced skillset and years of experience they can pick things up immediately. Having a solid onboarding process for any new-hire is essential, so just because a VA can adapt quickly doesn’t mean you should forgo training completely. Hold a couple of sessions to educate your VA about where your business is at, where it’s going and what is required of them to add value. This helps build a relationship and ensures you see eye-to-eye on your company’s trajectory.

Mistake #5: Not Auditing Your Applicants

Time spent here will save you time in the future.  Ask any of our team, they jump through hoops before getting the green light to join us!

Vetting an applicant is much more than asking a couple of questions and requesting some referrals. You’re trusting them with your business.  Conduct a thorough interview that can be broken into as many different stages as you find necessary. For example, your hiring process may involve…

  1. A video chat going over the applicant’s CV.
  2. Tests to verify that they can fulfil required admin duties.
  3. A specific test to verify their specialised skills in their niche.
  4. A background check where you verify their references.
  5. An online search to check that no inappropriate material comes up on Google or social media.
  6. A coffee chat (if possible) where you get to know them in an informal setting to assess your compatibility.

Basically this all comes down to doing your due diligence so that you don’t regret your final selection.

Mistake #6: Not Prepared For Working Remotely

For those used to working exclusively with an in-house team, it can be surprising just how difficult it can be to adjust to remote management. Of course, we’ve all experienced lockdowns over the past year that forced everyone to adapt in an instant to remote work. So if you’re used to working in-house but you were capable of handling remote work during the pandemic, then you could sustain a long-term partnership from a distance.

It’s crucial that you and your VA are in sync across the board, and you need to have trust in them since you can’t walk across an office to check on them. If you’re confident in your ability to coordinate remotely, do some extra research by asking around about other people’s experiences working with VAs. This way you’re starting with realistic expectations, beginning a process that you know is suited to you, and preparing for what’s in store even though it’s new to you.

Mistake #7: Don't Hire a VA For a Task

You’ll get much more value from your virtual assistant when you’re focused on the outcome rather than the task.

To take full advantage of your virtual assistant, you need to utilise their initiative and skills to help your business grow. The best way to achieve this is by hiring them to fill a role rather than to complete a task. By giving your VA independence, time and flexibility to adapt to your preferences and take over responsibilities, you’ll reduce your workload and stress levels. Micromanaging does not work well with VA’s; you are hiring a senior member of your team and as such once you’ve established a relationship give them the space they need to shine.

Mistake #8: Don't Hire a VA For Too Many Tasks!

Really good virtual assistants are specialists in their niche, not one-stop-shops for performing every little thing no one else wants to do. You wouldn’t want the same VA that does your bookkeeping to manage your social media!  

It takes some planning and organisation, but setting a curated list of tasks with targeted goals (outcomes!) will make all the difference, and you’ll find your return on investment soars when you take this approach.

Mistake #9: Don't Hire Too Many VA's Too Quickly

When you get into a rhythm with your VA and start reaping the benefits, it’s easy to get overexcited and tempted by the possibilities of what a bigger team can do for your business.

A word of caution, the bigger your team the more time you’ll spend managing them.  That’s where we recommend looking at a  Virtual Business Manager.  As your team grows, you want to make sure you’re still spending your time where you add the most value and that’s probably not managing your team.  

Either pace yourself and onboard new virtual assistants slowly, making sure you have the processes in your system to support the growth.  Or look at who you bring into your team to manage the growth for you, making sure as you do grow you’re achieving your objectives with the extra resources.

Mistake #10: Don't Hire For the Wrong Reasons

This can be something people easily overlook since it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of others having successful businesses thanks in part to their VAs.

Reflect on your goals, needs and where your business is at to decide if a VA will genuinely help you grow where you need it.

Does it make sense for you or would you simply be following a trend?

If it is the right move for you to hire a VA, figure out your bearings so you know where you’re starting from. Crucially, identify what you don’t do, can’t do or shouldn’t be doing and look for a VA who fits these needs.  You are looking for a match in both personality and skills. 

Like any hire, if you’ve made mistakes when hiring a virtual assistant in the past, don’t let it stop you from hiring one in the future. Finding the right VA to support your team, to partner with you as you grow your business could be the best decision you make.  

Don’t take our word for it though, see what some of our clients say when partnered with the right VA team to support them in their journey.  Talk to us about what you’re looking for and find out how we partner our VAs with the right clients, how we can help you find your own perfect match. 

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