5 Things to Consider when Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Updated: Oct 2, 2021
As a business owner, you have decided it is time to look into hiring a virtual assistant. You announce your inquiry, may it be on Linkedin or any other social media platform, and it is like you just opened up the flood gates (you never knew existed.) You want to interview a few, but you also want to be prepared. There are five things to consider before you officially onboard your next virtual assistant, that will save you time and headaches in the end.
1. Determine the Skills to Outsource
This one may seem obvious, but you will want to observe your current workload and decide which tasks you need to delegate to your VA. This will help you create a clear job description so you can clearly express the business needs. Also, take time to observe how long these tasks will take to complete, this helps you determine price points and what kind of availability you require. You want your virtual assistant to fit within your budget, but also be realistic with what you can expect.
But there is another reason why this is important. You need to know the kind of skills sets you are looking for. If you need a bookkeeper, be clear that you need help with your bookkeeping and tracking expenses. If you feel behind and overwhelmed by all that social media maintenance, look for someone to manage Facebook groups and your social media accounts (maybe with the tagline "social media manager.") How about someone to write those blog posts? Grab that VA who understands SEO. You get the picture.
Just as your business's needs are unique, so are your VA's skill sets. A good virtual assistant will know their own strengths and be able to effectively take on those administrative tasks you so desperately need them to do.
2. Observe their Initiative
You do not have the time to hold your virtual assistant's hand (which is physically impossible, as they are virtual... but you get my point!) Obviously, you will need to invest in them to pass the baton so to speak. Once they have the know-how, they should be able to manage their work schedule and tasks with ease and little monitoring. You need someone with initiative. There are a few ways you can gauge this early on.
Referrals: This is the ideal way to go about the hiring process, am I right? When someone in your network takes the extra step to refer someone, you know you are one step closer to finding that right virtual assistant. I guarantee you they were awesome communicators and took the initiative. I am even surprised they gave their top-secret away.
Personalized Proposals: I am not talking about the copy and paste, "I am looking for a VA job!" proposals. I am referring to those who took the time to actually get to know your business. It can be tiresome to receive all of those service proposals, I know. But take note of the ones that actually took the time to personalize it. They took the initiative, they did not just wait for you to stumble across them or simply respond to a posting (which works just as well too! In those cases, the next point will be for you.)
Onboarding Communication: How do they handle the onboarding process? Are they quick to set a discovery call, and when you arrive do they ask you any questions? That initial chat will tell you a lot. You want someone who leans into your buisness with curiosity and professionalism. Are they clear on what they offer, and do they have a clear onboarding process? If you feel like it is up to you to dictate everything, take note. You want a VA who reaches out to you and shows they can handle their own business and yours.
3. Express Clear Outcomes to Track Success
Creating clear outcomes is just as much for you as it is for your next virtual assistant. These should be written down and clearly gone over during the onboarding process. Make sure the outcomes are reasonable for that month's work and make sure you hire someone with the necessary skill sets. If you are golden on step one, you are on the right track!
A few things to consider:
Managing Platforms: Do you have a system you use for your business to communicate? Make sure your VA is willing and able to use it. If you do not have a system set up already, ask if your virtual assistant has preferred methods for communication and collaboration. Project management is a big part of virtual assistance, and there are various platforms that help do this virtually. Consider it a "virtual office space" if you will.
Deadlines: Deadlines are your best friend (or at least I think so). Even if you know the project assigned will be more be long-term, having a VA who can create benchmarks to check the progress is perfection. This will help you to work as a team and move forward with ideal time management along the way.
This is something you will want to prepare for, but also something you can sense even in that initial interview. When talking over skype or zoom, do they ask for goals and deadlines? Are they thinking about time frames and tangible outcomes?
4. Effective Communication
Excellent communication cannot be undervalued. The styles of communication may vary based on personality types, but no matter what communication can make or break partnerships. As a small business owner yourself, you may already know your communication style. Does your virtual assistant ask? Express if you prefer only email, phone calls, text, or another method of regular connection. Either way, they should be aware and work with you.
You want transparency and feedback with your virtual assistant, and this goes both ways. Look for someone with excellent customer service skills.
5. Have a Clear "Assessment" Meeting
One of my favorite parts of working with independent contractors and freelancers is the ability to explore if they are the right fit. This comes at a low-cost commitment on your end, as you are not going through the whole process of hiring or training a new employee. This is a huge benefit! You are able to hire a virtual assistant and assess the progress and move on from there. I am basically saying, you can date before you marry. Put this "assessment" process in place from the very beginning. Take those clear benchmarks you created and use these as a way to assess.
You know your business, and you probably know if this is working or not pretty quickly. But this gives you a tangible way to park and chat and provides proof in the pudding if it is working out. (I just used two analogies in one sentence, but I like them too much to change it. Your welcome!)
Interview your Candidate with Confidence!
In the midst of all you are doing to keep your business growing, it is important that you find that unicorn virtual assistant. One is out there for you, and when you find one you will see your business grow as you are able to lift your head above the weeds. Because that's what virtual assistants do, they take on the weeds and make it into something awesome while you are busy being awesome.
May you find your unicorn!
I am Danielle Hamlet. I am a virtual assistant who specializes in content marketing. You get someone who can take on your busy work but also rock out SEO. I would love to talk and get to know you and your business, book your call today.