Knowing how to hire the best virtual assistant for you is key to finding a solution to your time and resources challenge. Finding the right fit is the start of a long and rewarding relationship. On the flip side, a bad hire will cost you time and impact your business.
The impact of hiring the right VA
The Your VA team, ably led by Justine with her ‘can do’ attitude, is one of the Celebrant Association’s best resources.
In no time at all they came to grips with what makes our complex membership organisation tick. Since engaging them, our membership is stronger, and its subsequent growth is a direct result of the initiative and effort of Hazel – she makes things happen.
Our profile and performance on social media continue to expand with Kari’s inspiration and creative skill and our first virtual conference was a seamless success, in great part due to the excellent planning and support we had from Megan. Their financial management and reporting help keep us on track as do their website technical specialists.
Your VA is an absolute asset to our executive team and to our members. They are accessible, transparent and competent across a range of business disciplines.
They’re like employing the Swiss Army knife in business. We don’t need anyone else.
The impact of hiring the wrong VA
I had a VA based offshore who I’ve spent a lot of time training. She was ok for tasks where the procedure was absolutely step by step but had no initiative and there were a few mistakes. So quality control was frustrating, often resulting in my being a bottleneck.
Then she just went off the radar and stopped answering my calls and emails. So I’m completely in the lurch and back to inconsistent posting on my social media, I’ve missed two newsletters, and my inbox is out of control.
[from a discovery call with a business owner]
The 5-step process for hiring your new Virtual Assistant
Document the tasks you plan to delegate
Start by making a list of all the tasks and processes that you plan to delegate to your Virtual Assistant. Assuming these are tasks that you’re already doing yourself, create training documents (aka Standard Operating Procedures) for these tasks. We cover a quick and easy way to do this in our article: How to document procedures quickly using video.
If you’re hiring a Virtual Business Manager or a specialist virtual assistant, document the outcomes you want them to accomplish instead of specific tasks or procedures. This method of delegation means we can be proactive rather than reactive and adjust what we’re doing in order to help you achieve your outcomes.
For example: You want to generate leads using LinkedIn.
If using a virtual assistant their brief might be to:
- share blog post weekly via LinkedIn published articles
- identify 3 posts daily I can comment on
- create a long form post highlighting one of the problems and solutions in the attached doc
- edit video to create a video post which you’ll also pull quotes from
If using a virtual business manager or specialist VA their brief would be “using LinkedIn, generate 10 enquiries resulting in discovery calls by end of this month”.
Create a job description
Once you have your list of tasks to delegate, you’ll need to create a job description for the role that will be responsible for these tasks.
Your job description should include:
- Your core values
- Background information about your business (your industry, what you sell, and who your clients/customers are)
- Level of education, experience, and/or skills required
- List of duties and responsibilities
- List of any apps, tools, or software they will be using
Finding the right fit for you and your budget
1. Choose a type of VA
With so many virtual assistant options out there, do a bit of research and talk to your friends and networks. Consider which VA is the best fit for you, remembering their are pros and cons with each:
- Offshore VAs are a low cost option and we have clients who have worked successful with their offshore VA.
- Freelance VAs can be found locally and are sometimes a cheaper option than an agency. Some freelancers specialise so if you’re in a particular industry, do say which type of VA you’re looking for (i.e. real estate).
- Agency VAs are typically the most expensive, as they have overheads and support staff to consider. The cost is offset by the benefits, including:
- Backup VAs
- Team support and collective knowledge
- Expertise for the task on hand (as opposed to a generalist)
- An agency owner for any dispute resolution
- Flexibility of scale
2. Inviting applications
Once you’ve identified the best option for you, it’s time to get the word out!
- Post on your social network channels with your job description attached.
- Reach out to your connections and groups, asking for recommendations.
- Advertise on job sites
- Advertise on your website
- Send out a newsletter to your list.
The hiring process
Once you’ve shortlisted your preferred applicants, arrange a time for the interviews. Personality is as important as credentials so listen to your instincts. Does the conversation run easily, do you feel a connection, did they listen to you and ask the right questions, did they impress you with what they did say, do they share your values?
2. Testing top candidates
We suggest when we have a discovery call with a prospective client that they give their top three candidates a task to complete as a test.
Pick a type of task that would be a part of their regular responsibilities and see how well they perform.
Often, people that look great on paper are not so great in real life. Asking your candidates to complete a real task will help you determine who the top candidate really is.
You’re looking for:
- how they communicate with you
- what questions they ask
- turnaround time
When we test as part of our onboarding process for VA’s wanting to join our own team, we keep our tasks slightly open to interpretation to measure how the candidate thinks.
When we take on new contractors we take them through a vigorous onboarding process which covers our expectations, reference checks, tests, and a trial period before they are made permanent.
Removing risk from your hire
Choose the best candidate for the job and start them off on a trial period. We recommend one month. A trial period gives your virtual assistant additional incentive to do a great job for you, knowing that it could lead to a permanent role on your team while removing the risk for you.
Have them sign a formal agreement to protect your confidentiality, intellectual property, outline expectations and renumeration.
Top Tips for Working with your Virtual Assistant
Now you’ve found the right VA for you and your business remember, it’s your job as a leader to help maintain a productive, professional, and mutually beneficial relationship.
Download our free guide below for a framework to cover your first four weeks with your new virtual assistant. In doing so you’ll maximise your investment and minimise any frustrations going forward.
Finally, a friendly reminder
If you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed with building your business, you’re not alone. Most clients who come to us work long hours simply because they haven’t learnt how to leverage their time and delegate to others effectively.
A lot of business owners think that they can or have to do everything themselves, and because of that belief that’s exactly what they do. Often at the risk of burning out.
Your job is not to create a ‘job’ for yourself. That’s what we’re for. An entrepreneur is someone who builds systems and hires people that help run their business for them.
A virtual assistant or virtual business manager won’t be the only person you add to your team as you grow your business, it takes a team to scale a business. But they should definitely be one of the first.
Working with a VA and/or a VBM will free up more time for you to focus on activities that have a greater impact on your life and business.
Just imagine what you’ll achieve with a team behind you!