Getting Help Sooner Rather than Later – 5 Steps to Take When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
One way to make progress in your business a lot sooner, is to outsource some of the tasks that other people can take off of your plate. When you focus on the things only you can do such as work with clients, run your programs, show up on video and expand your circle of influence, you will feel less stressed, more productive and can actually earn more money.
But how do you get started when it comes to hiring a virtual assistant?
In today’s episode of The Wellness Business Podcast, you’ll discover…
- The 5 steps you should take when hiring a virtual assistant that will set that working relationship up for success right from the start
- A list of questions you can ask past references to get a feel, ahead of time, if this virtual assistant is a good fit for you
- Our very best pro-tips that you should consider when hiring a virtual assistant whether they will be filling an ongoing support role or taking care of one-off tasks for you
Karen and I both use multiple virtual assistants in our businesses. If we didn’t, we would never be able to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks that are demanded by our businesses.
As an example, for this podcast alone we have a podcast editor, someone else that posts our weekly episodes to the podcast blog, and then we each have our own VA’s that post our weekly podcast episodes to our individual websites, as well as we each have our own social media managers that create our podcast graphics and schedule our posts accordingly. That’s six virtual assistants between the two of us just for the podcast.
To be transparent, in the beginning of our businesses we both waited way too long to get virtual support. Knowing how that negatively affected our businesses and health we felt it was important to give you these 5 pro tips so you can hire help sooner rather than later.
Here are 5 Steps to Take When Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Step #1 – Determine your business needs – While it would be great to outsource almost everything in your business there are some things that only you can do. The flip side is that there are certain tasks that should be outsourced because your time is better spent elsewhere.
To figure out where you should begin, start by making a list of day-to-day or one-off tasks that you would like support with. This will not only help you get clarity about where you want help, it will also help you decide if there is overlap between tasks so one person could handle more than one thing.
Step #2 – Set clear objectives – In order for you to establish a win-win relationship with your virtual assistant, you need to set clear objectives from the start. When we first began our journey in hiring a VA we tried to find someone that could do it all for us. The idea of having one person that knew the ins and outs of our businesses felt like a dream come true. But we quickly realized that not only is it unrealistic to expect one person to be an expert in all things, it also set the virtual assistant up for failure. Not a great way to kick things off.
Now, when we hire someone, we look for someone that specializes in a certain area that meets the needs of our objectives. The clearer you can be about your job description, due date, and pay structure the more likely all of your objectives will be met.
Step #3 – Check their communication skills – Searching for virtual support is now a global opportunity. You have the ability to connect and work with people from anywhere in the world. That is a tremendous opportunity as long as there is clear communication between the two of you.
One of our favorite ways to make sure we’re a good match for a virtual assistant is to do a test project. As an example, when Karen was searching for a new social media manager she posted a job description, went through the applicants previous work history as well as the portfolios they submitted and then she chose her top 3 candidates. She reached out to each of them and asked if they would be willing to create 3 social media posts and graphics for her Instagram account. She offered to pay them 1 hour of wages based on their preferred hourly rate from their application and she gave them a due date.
Believe it or not, one gal missed the due date and never reached out to Karen. When Karen contacted the VA the next day, she offered a reason why she was late so Karen set a new due date for her. Once again, she missed the deadline. When she did finally submit her posts and graphics, Karen already knew that she was not a good fit because she could not meet a promised deadline. Communication is key and at no time did she take the initiative to let Karen know she was going to be late in submitting her posts. Not a great first impression.
Maria on the other hand, went above and beyond. She researched Karen’s social media and her website. Her trial posts and graphics were ideal client specific, and incorporated her marketing message, so she was hired.
Step #4 – Ask for their portfolio and/or references – One of the easiest ways to find a great virtual assistant is to ask your colleagues. Karen and I have shared our virtual resources with one another for years and it’s always been a great fit.
If the work you want done is something visual, like social media graphics, pdf creation, or video editing, then it’s easy to ask them to provide a portfolio that includes multiple examples of projects they’ve completed in the past. If they are truly a professional virtual assistant they will already have this created ahead of time which means they can supply the link easily.
If you’re looking for general virtual support with things like email management, calendar bookings, organizing Dropbox, customer service replies, etc. then that’s not as easy to put into a portfolio. This is a great opportunity to ask for references. References are people that you can reach out to that have worked with this person in the past that will share their feedback about what they think of your potential hiring candidate.
Being prepared with a few questions ahead of time that you can ask the reference will make this process go more smoothly.
Here are 5 sample questions you can ask:
- How long did you work with the virtual assistant and what tasks did they perform? This question will help you understand the length and nature of the previous working relationship and the tasks the virtual assistant has experience in handling.
- Can you describe the virtual assistant’s communication skills and responsiveness? As communication is a crucial aspect of any remote working relationship, this question will give you an idea of how well the virtual assistant communicates and responds to queries and requests.
- How well did the virtual assistant adapt to new tasks and challenges? This question will give you an idea of the virtual assistant’s problem-solving skills and ability to handle new tasks and challenges.
- Can you describe the quality of the virtual assistant’s work and attention to detail? This question will give you an idea of the quality of work that the virtual assistant delivers and whether they pay attention to detail.
- Would you recommend this virtual assistant to others, and if so, why? This question will give you a sense of the reference’s overall impression of the virtual assistant, and why they would or would not recommend them.
Step #5 – Start small and build your skills as a project manager – In any good employer / virtual assistant relationship, both people need to bring their A-game to the table for it to be a win-win. I’ve found that oftentimes, the quality of the work being delivered to me is determined by how well I’m doing my job as the business owner and project manager. That’s why I like to start with smaller projects and progress from there over time as we build a relationship.
Here are some things to think about when hiring virtual support:
- Are you clear in what outcome you want to receive by providing examples, clear specifications, due dates, pay structure, milestone check-ins, etc.
- Are you meeting any expectations put on you by the project such as delivering sample screenshots, brand colors, user names and passwords for necessary platforms, etc. If you aren’t meeting deadlines you’ll be showing your virtual assistant that you do not put a priority on deadlines so why should they.
- Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will the relationship you have with your virtual assistant. It takes time to build trust on both sides so starting with smaller projects, getting great results, course correcting as needed, and moving forward in incremental steps is a recipe for success.
- If your working relationship with your new virtual assistant is going to be ongoing, rather than a one-off project, let them know up front that you’ll start them off with a 90-day probationary period. After 90 days plan to have a meeting to see how things are going on both sides. Is it a good match? How’s the communication? Is there anything you can do to make their job easier? Great communication works both ways and this is a great way to set clear expectations and parameters of the first 90 days.
What is one task or project you can start outsourcing in the next 30 days? Once you get started with outsourcing, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!