Are you planning on hiring a virtual assistant but not sure what steps you need to take to find the right person for the job?
Working in partnership with the perfect VA can be a total game changer for small business owners. You’ll have more time to focus on your expertise and the work you truly enjoy. And you’ll have the capacity to scale your business, without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of your work.
But if you’re unsure of how to get there, you could end up with the wrong virtual assistant. Or doing nothing at all and potentially stifling the growth of your business.
Here are 7 simple steps for small business owners to hire the right virtual assistant:
1) Work out if a virtual assistant is the right option for your business
Virtual assistants can cover an enormous range of skills. These could be the more traditional PA/admin duties but VAs can also help with your social media, copy writing, research, video editing. (Click here for a more comprehensive lists of jobs a VA can help you with).
If you’re reading this it probably means that you know you need some support in your business, but it could be that the support you need is from a different type of freelance specialist.
Or that you could actually do with in-person, rather than virtual support. Think about what type of help you need first to make sure a VA is the right fit for your business.
2) Decide what to out-source
Many business owners I speak to struggle to pinpoint specifically what it is that they need to outsource. As a starting point, it’s useful to figure out what you definitely want to KEEP doing in your business.
Many business owners struggle to pinpoint specifically what they want to out-source
Write a list of all the tasks you regularly complete in your business and check if the following characteristics apply to any of them. Is it:
- Critical to the smooth-running and growth of your business
- Something you’re passionate about
- Something you’re good at
Michael Hyatt refers to these tasks as The Desire Zone:
“The key to job satisfaction is moving away from your Drudgery and Disinterest Zones and toward the Passion and Proficiency of your Desire Zone.”
Any jobs that fail this test should either be eliminated, automated or delegated. By understanding what you want to delegate, you’ll be able to look for specific skills. This will help you hire the right virtual assistant for the job.
3) Write a detailed job specification
Once you know what tasks you want to out-source to your virtual assistant, you should write a detailed job specification.
Regardless of whether you plan to post it on a jobs board, it’s important that you get clear on:
- What you need help with
- The type of person you’d like to help you
You’ll be able to use elements of your job spec if you ask for a referral from a friend, post your search on social media, and when you come to shortlist potential candidates. The clearer you are in your own mind, the easier it is to stay focused on finding the right person, with the right skills.
Workable.com has a useful template that you can use as a guide to write your VA job spec:
4) Draw up a short-list
One approach a lot of a small business owners take to hire the right Virtual assistant, is to post their search on social media. This is a brilliant way to meet prospective virtual assistants or find recommendations from other business owners. But you may find that you get a lot of interest!
Which means that you’ll need to filter out the virtual assistants who don’t offer the right skills, have the right sector experience or personality traits you need.
Spend some time researching the VAs you meet or are introduced to, and create a shortlist of the 3-5 VAs who look to be the best fit.
5) Arrange discovery calls with your short-list
Although you can get a pretty good idea by following prospective Virtual Assistants on social media and checking out their website, you need to make sure you have an in-depth conversation with them as well.
Having a conversation over the phone (or in person) is the best way to get a sense of how their personality might complement yours. And for them to get a better understanding of where your pain points are.
As Melissa at The Little Black Desk Society explains,
“As a client, discovery calls are crucial for finding out if the service provider will be able to meet your expectations, help you achieve your goals and work styles.”
6) Do your Due Diligence Checks
Once you think you’ve found The One, you should follow up with a few background checks to make sure your business is protected from any potential mishaps. I always suggest checking the following:
Most virtual assistants will be more than happy to provide you with these on request, but if you do happen to meet someone who’s unwilling to do so, I would treat them with extreme caution.
7) Set up a trial period
When you enter into an employment contract with a company, you would expect a probation period at the start of your relationship. Once you’ve completed your probation you would generally expect to be given a notice period before your employer terminates your contract. The same is true for virtual assistants if you set up a retainer with them.
It’s a good idea to set up an initial, no obligation trial period of a few weeks to make sure you’re a good fit for each other. Think of it as a paid test drive. If the relationship doesn’t work out at the end of the trial you can move on without any contractual messiness.
Trusting someone else with your business is a big step so you want to do everything you can to maximise your chances of hiring the right virtual assistant first time. With the right process in place you’ll be much clearer on the type of help you need and the best person for the job.
By following these 7 steps to hire the right virtual assistant, you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding the perfect support for your business.
Do you feel prepared to start the hiring process? Let me know in the comments.