Many small business owners have discovered that having a virtual assistant gives them the ability to work on more projects, while also developing products and services. It also leaves much more time to devote to new ventures within your business, or even to spend more quality time with your family. The key to all this though, is to hire a virtual assistant that’s a perfect fit for your small business. In order to do that, you should observe the following guidelines for hiring the right virtual assistant.
Develop a virtual assistant job description
Before attempting to hire a virtual assistant, you should develop a job description which clearly identifies the duties and responsibilities which will be assigned to that individual. This means that you will need to have in mind several work hours for your assistant each week, and you’ll need to have a clear idea of the tasks that person will work on.
You should also list the skills which you believe are required in order to adequately fulfill the job requirements, as well as the kind of work values you think they should have. After you’ve determined all this, you should give some thought to the kind of equipment which will be necessary for your assistant to carry out their job functions. This may include a phone, computer, an Internet connection, and possibly software such as Skype, for conferencing.
Location and financing
One of the good things about hiring a virtual assistant is that their specific location doesn’t necessarily come into play very much. However, it will still be necessary for you to maintain contact frequently, and ideally to have discussions about work. It can be very easy to lose touch with an employee who is not in your building, and when that happens, it’s possible that they won’t have the right guidance in order to accomplish their tasks.
It’s best if you can maintain a set schedule of interfaces with your virtual assistant, ideally at the same time every day, or at the same time, two or three times weekly. You should also have a budget in mind when you’re thinking about a virtual assistant, so that you don’t waste time considering candidates who are overpriced. When you have a figure in mind and stick to it, you’ll be able to adhere to your budget and still get all the work done.
Be strategic about your position opening
If you’ve never hired a virtual assistant before, it can be something of a daunting task. However, in the last several years, several communities and websites have sprung up which are completely dedicated to serving the outsourcing industry. In addition to posting your job opening on the company website, it will be to your advantage to make sure you are wary of all the different contract terms for each platform.
The more places you can get your opening posted, the more candidates that will apply for the position. When you have a good sampling of candidates to choose from, chances are you’ll be able to find your ideal virtual assistant more easily. Some of the best sites for posting your openings will be Elance, Guru, and oDesk, although there are many others.
Sift through applications
The tedious part of hiring a virtual assistant is sifting through all the applications you get from sources where you posted your opening. Have a benchmark in mind for candidates which you will put on your short list, and simply discard all the rest so you don’t waste time. Make sure all shortlist candidates have followed any instructions you provided.
Pay close attention to cover letters which accompanied their resumes, and determine whether their experience is a good fit for your business. The skills they have already acquired may be very useful in handling their duties with your business. If they have provided samples of their work along with their application, evaluate this as well to see if it enhances their credentials.
Interview the best candidates
You don’t have to interview your selected candidates face-to-face, although that is usually the preferred situation. If your candidate is more remote, use Skype so that you can carry on a conversation, and so you can receive any files they might need to send along. During the interview, be sure to ask potential candidates about any details of their life, or their work experience which may affect their ability to do the job.
That could include their availability, their skills, their desired rate of compensation, their work environment, and several other factors. It’s a good idea to go into an interview prepared with a set list of questions for each individual candidate. Once the interview is underway, points are bound to come up which you will have additional questions about, and these can be asked at that time.
The job and compensation
When you’ve decided on a candidate, you’ll immediately need to implement a strong system of communications before issuing the first assignment to your assistant. You might want to establish a task list for your assistant to carry out either daily or weekly, and meetings can be set up so the progress can be discussed. Any deliverables can be sent to you through Dropbox, Google Drive, Studio MFP’s cloud service, or even as email attachments.
You probably discussed compensation with your candidate during the interviews, and whether that will be on a fixed-price basis or at an hourly rate. If it’s hourly, you may need to use a time tracker, and if it’s a fixed-price, you should discuss the workload and your expectations for accomplishment. You’ll also need to inform your new hire how exactly they will be paid, e.g. the mail system, check, PayPal, etc.
Start with something small
Even if you have a dire need to accomplish a major project, it’s best to start out your newly hired virtual assistant with a smaller project or task. Once you see their degree of expertise and competence, you can increase the workload. For an assistant who really performs very well, you should reward that person, so you can be sure of retaining their services. If the new hire turns out not to be a good fit, you’ll simply have to let them go, and repeat the process of searching for a competent virtual assistant.
If all of this sounds daunting, we at Studio MFP have already taken care of these processes for you. All you need to do is determine projects, tasks, and how many hours you want your virtual assistant to be contracted monthly. We can take care of the rest. You won’t only have one virtual assistant, but the entire Studio MFP team to make sure your projects and tasks are completed to the best of their ability. Check out our virtual assistance program, or contact us about outsourcing today.