A VA should be one of the first hires you make as an entrepreneur, and is one of the most important. A motivated, skilled VA can take many of the most time-intensive tasks off your hands, and let you focus on the strategic direction of your business.
Hiring a VA can be a little tricky, however, particularly for entrepreneurs who are inexperienced when it comes to managing the recruitment process. In this guide, we’ll give you a simple process for making sure that you get it right first time.
Do You Need a VA?
First, though, let’s take a more detailed look at whether you need a VA. Spoiler alert: you probably do.
If you’ve built your business yourself, it can be difficult to pass over responsibility for key tasks to someone else. The truth, though, is that you are probably doing a lot of tasks that you don’t need to be doing. Whether you are trying to leverage video marketing, or increase your Twitter following, you need to be aware that every task you do has an effective dollar value.
And if you are spending your time on tasks that are of low value to your business, your income is never going to rise.
The first step in hiring a VA is therefore to work out the actual dollar value of all of the tasks you do. Then you can take the lowest-paid tasks, and delegate them to your VA. This approach will also mean that you are sure to see an ROI for your new hire, because you know the exact value of the work they are doing.
Hiring a VA: The Five Steps To Success
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, there are five steps to making sure you hire the best VA possible.
1. Document The Tasks You Want to Outsource
Once you’ve completed your audit of the tasks you do, you should have a really good idea of which tasks you are going to pass on to your new VA. This list of tasks forms the basis for the hiring process, so make sure that you spend the time to make it comprehensive.
From this list, you can then produce training materials to show your new VA how to complete their tasks, and create a handbook of Standard Operating Procedures (SOIs) for these tasks. To learn how to write effective Standard Operating Procedures, check out this guide.
2. Create a Detailed Job Description
From your task list, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the level of education you are looking for in a VA, and the specific skills they will require. Of particular importance is that they already know how to use all of the systems you use in your business.
You can then work up a Job Description for the VA role. This should include:
- 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
The more detailed you can be in the job description, the better. Not only does this help you find the right VA for the job, but it also crystallizes your thinking – forcing you to ask, “Who or what, exactly, will this position require??
The next step is to advertise your role. Though some entrepreneurs like to post jobs on Craigslist, in reality it pays to advertise your position as widely as possible. That way, you can be assured that the best qualified candidates will see it.
There are some sites that are used specifically to hire VAs, and they are a great place to start:
- Virtual Girl Friday
- Virtual Assistant Assistant
- Priority VA
- Somebody 2 Hire
- Virtual Staff Finder
- Mr. Outsource
4. Schedule Interviews
Now we get to the most difficult part of any hiring process: finding the best candidate. After you’ve reviewed the applications you receive, you should immediately have a good idea of the 5 – 10 most qualified candidates for the role.
Schedule interviews with these candidates. Video calls are great for this, because you can quickly find out how easy it is to communicate with your candidates, and what it will be like to work with them.
You should definitely ask about their work experience and skills, but don’t stop there. It’s also important to ask candidates about their hobbies, how they like to work, and their values.
Conflicting values can quickly become a source of friction in a relationship, particularly when it comes to the value of security and privacy. As Will Ellis, Director of Research at security advocacy group Privacy Australia points out, “you need to ensure that all of your staff take your business as seriously as you do.”
With growing concerns over cybersecurity and data privacy, every VA you hire is a potential point of attack for would-be hackers through social engineering attacks. When conducting interviews, it’s important to filter out any candidates that have a cavalier attitude towards their own privacy, because they would carry that behavior into your business as well.
5. Trial Periods
Once you’ve identified the top candidate, you should hire them on a trial basis to begin with. Even if you are hiring them with the expectation that they will work with you for years, regular goal setting and performance management is the key to any successful business relationship.
This trial period can last for anything from one month to six months, and provides a chance for you to work out any issues with your new VA before you commit to a longer relationship. You should formalize this trial period in the contract you sign with your new VA, but also make the way that you will assess them open and transparent.
If you’ve followed these steps, you should be well on your way to having a great VA by your side. However, if the selection of real-life humans seems like simply too much for you right now, you should also have a look at AI Virtual Assistants: whilst AI solutions are not (yet) quite as good as humans, it might be that in a few years everyone has an AI assistant as well.
For now, though, hiring a VA is one of the most cost-effective decisions any entrepreneur can make. As long, that is, as they hire the right person.