Virtual assistants (VAs) are the most in-demand workers on freelance websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Outsourcely. Employers are looking for a right-hand (wo)man to delegate important tasks to while they take their business to the next level. Before hiring a virtual assistant (VA), employers need to determine what tasks a VA should focus on, how and where to hire, and how to manage their success. This guide to virtual assistant hiring will help you find, train and integrate a virtual assistant that will help your business succeed.Virtual assistants are the most in-demand workers on freelance websites Click To Tweet
The VA and employer relationship is as beneficial to the assistants as it is to their employers. The virtual assistant gains the freedom to work from home and is able to create a schedule with work-life balance in mind. It also helps them build their portfolios and earn extra income.By 2018 online working will be worth $5 billion, with VAs most in demand. Click To Tweet
It is predicted that by 2018 online working will be worth $5 billion. There are many remote workers who are writers, researchers, and data entry specialists, but VAs seem to be the most in demand. Hiring a virtual assistant allows an employer to focus on the company’s most important tasks while passing the day-to-day administrative duties down to the virtual assistant. This can shave hours off a new CEOs workweek, allowing him or her to focus on the growth stage of the business.
Is a virtual assistant right for you?
If you’re just starting out, you probably have some big ideas without enough time in the day to execute them. If you find your day wasted on making travel plans, interrupted by emails or conducting research rather than focusing on your growing business, a virtual assistant may be the right choice for you.
A virtual assistant is someone who can propel your business while helping you become more effective and efficient. However, it’s important to make sure you are ready before hiring a VA. There is nothing worse than wasting time and money when you are in the middle of a thriving business.
Virtual assistants are an important part of your company’s future, so hire like the success of the company depends on it.Hire a VA like the success of your company depends on it. Click To Tweet
When is the best time to hire a virtual assistant?
Answering this question is vital to ensuring you get the most out of a virtual assistant. When used correctly, a virtual assistant will provide extra help and ease your workload. It’s time to hire a virtual assistant when:
- You need to focus on the actual business.
- Administrative tasks are taking up most of your time.
- Your business is growing.
- Errors and mistakes continue to happen because you are juggling too many duties.
When you know you are prepared to hire a VA, let’s take a look at everything that goes into virtual assistant hiring, including tasks, a training program and where to hire.
Tasks a virtual assistant can focus on
Before committing to a VA, it is important to have all their tasks clearly decided and outlined. Hiring a virtual assistant and giving them unclear tasks and direction will cost you more time and money in the long run. Here are some ideas on what you can outsource to your virtual assistant.
The most common task given to a virtual assistant is handling bills and bookkeeping. This is one of the more time-consuming projects that need strong attention to detail, which CEOs typically cannot provide during the start-up phase of their business. Due to the sensitivity of the information the virtual assistant would be handling it is important to take your time looking for the right person to fulfill this role.
Virtual assistants can create blogs for your company in many different styles. If you took great notes at a webinar, you can forward them to your VA to develop a blog from. You could also record interesting slides from a presentation at a conference and send this information to your VA. You can even take a video of a symposium you attend and ask your VA to create a blog post from that.
If you recently sent an email campaign out and collected leads, pass them over to your VA to import and sort into an excel document. Do you have a pile of business cards you haven’t had time to do anything with? Have your virtual assistant add them to your email contacts.
Looking for new employees? Need jobs posted and people interviewed? This is a great task for a virtual assistant to handle. They can handle all phone screenings and narrow down the search to get you two or three candidates that are qualified with the skills you are looking for.
Email and schedule management
As a CEO, you will get hundreds of emails a day and you won’t have time to respond to every single one. Decide ahead of time which emails your virtual assistant can respond to. The emails that fall under your VA domain probably includes meeting requests.
Your virtual assistant probably knows your schedule better than anyone so it makes sense to have them confirm your meetings and appointments.
If you have notes for a presentation and an idea for the feel of your presentation, hand it off to your virtual assistant. They can put the presentation together, allowing you to take a look at the final version and add anything else you need while the bulk of the work is already done.
Are you looking for relevant blog topics that should be written? Are you looking for trends in your industry? Let your VA do online research to find what you are looking for so you can spend your time (assigning) or writing the blog posts and doing actionable items with the research that was presented to you.
As a new business owner, you will probably travel a lot. Let your virtual assistant take care of all travel plans so you can focus on preparing for where you are traveling to. They can book your flights, hotels, and rental cars so you have one less thing to do.
This is just a minute list of tasks for your virtual assistant. Other tasks may include event planning, marketing, or managing your website.
How to create a training program
Once you have a clear set of tasks for your virtual assistant, you must create a training program. If you throw a VA into a position without any guidance or processes, it isn’t fair to the VA and will create more work for you.
Brandon Turner, the voice behind the BiggerPockets podcast and author of “Do These 3 Things Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant,” discusses the ins and outs of hiring a virtual assistant. Not only was he recording the BiggerPockets podcast, but he was editing it as well. Once mastering the editing process for his podcast, he created a video to show exactly how he edited it. He then turned that video into a written manual so his virtual assistant would know exactly how to edit podcasts once he decided to hand them those tasks.
In an article about getting the most out of your virtual assistants, Alumnify CEO AJ Agrawal explains how the company’s virtual assistant would be responsible for generating leads. To avoid any misunderstanding of the project, he created a step-by-step guide on how to reach out to clients and generate leads.
How to review work and assign projects
Before your VA hits the ground running, you should implement a time tracking software to monitor their hours, review work and assign projects. Don’t forget to agree on an hourly rate before you begin assigning work.
Hubstaff is a leader in time tracking software and offers tools with;
- URL tracking
- Automatic payroll
- GPS and location tracking
- Weekly budgets
- Randomized screenshots
- Advanced reporting
It integrates with multiple project management and payment programs, such as Mavenlink, Salesforce, and Zendesk in a few easy clicks. You can check out Hubstaff’s free 14-day trial to see how the intuitive software makes management easy.
Track Remote Time with Hubstaff
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Hubstaff also integrates with Trello, a project management tool that uses kanban boards to organize tasks. Hubstaff’s Trello integration allows managers to see what employees are working on and where they are in the process. It allows you, the virtual assistant and any other employees you add to see where a project is in the pipeline and to assign projects and responsibilities as they come up.
Other tools your virtual assistant may want to use include:
- World Time Buddy – This is a great tool for virtual assistants working in a different time zone than their employer. It helps keep track of timezones so you don’t miss calls and meetings due to a timezone mix up.
- Google Voice – Ditch cell phone minutes and have your virtual assistant use Google voice for all the calls that they will be making.
- Hellofax – Will your virtual assistant handle faxes? This is a reliable online faxing solution when you don’t have your own fax machine.
- GetResponse – If your virtual assistant is taking care of email marketing for you, GetResponse provides a template and easy drag and drop features to create email campaigns.
- Oktopost – This tool helps your virtual assistant easily manage social media content they are responsible for posting for you and/or your other clients.
Now that you are prepared to hire a virtual assistant, let’s take a look at how and where to hire one.
How to hire a virtual assistantInsert a request into your job description so you can see which candidates pay attention to detail. Click To Tweet
A virtual assistant should be your No. 1 hire and the same effort should be put into hiring them as it is any other employee. The first step in hiring a virtual assistant is to come up with the job description. Include the following items in your description:
- Include a brief description of duties and responsibilities.
- Put some type of key phrase or word in the description that merits a response to ensure the candidate actually read the description. See the example below:
- Do they have to be U.S. based or can they be from overseas?
- Ask for a resume.
- Ask for any relevant samples or a portfolio to be submitted with their application.
- Ask how much time the candidate can commit to the position.
- What pay rate are they looking for?
- Give a sample task to be completed upon applying.
Where to hire a virtual assistant
After creating the job description it is time to post it and find your perfect virtual assistant. Use platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr to post the job and gather bids. If you are looking for a platform that requires you to be less hands-on in the virtual assistant hiring process, check out Hubstaff Talent, Virtual Staff Finder, Outsourcely, Zirtual, or The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA).
Use the following tips to source through your candidates and conduct interviews:
- Ensure the candidate speaks your native language.
- Have they passed any relevant tests provided by the platform the job was posted to?
- Conduct a Skype interview with your top candidates to ensure they speak your native language.
- Tell candidates about you and your company!
- Find out why they want to work for your company. This can give you great insight into if they are the right fit for your business.
- Spend your time interviewing until you get the right candidate. This person will likely become your right-hand (wo)man.
Get your VA up to speed
Run your virtual assistant through a trial period before you make the hire official. Have a two week to a month trial period wherein you give them tasks that won’t potentially “bankrupt” your company, such as data entry, research and blogging.
Once your virtual assistant passes their trial period, it is time to get them trained and running full-speed. First, finalize and agree upon the virtual assistants tasks. Clearly outline what is expected to be done and when.
After tasks are outlined share any and all training videos and documents with them. Give them a timeframe for how long they have to read the documents and watch the videos. Be prepared to answer any questions they have after training. Answer these thoroughly so work is done correctly the first time.
Once they are trained, share how you will assign projects, review work and pay them. Let them know exactly how all processes work so they have a clear understanding and all of their questions answered.
Lastly, continue to build and grow your relationship with the virtual assistant.
- Keep in contact with them so you are always on the same page.
- Remember to stay patient. It will take a little time to get your virtual assistant up to speed so it is important to keep that in mind when you feel impatient with them.
- Empower and encourage them.
- Ask their opinions on decisions you make.
- Make them a part of your team. If you are having a company meeting or party, always be sure to include them.
A virtual assistant can truly change your life if you find a responsible and trustworthy person that is up to the challenge. They can take your business to new levels and allow you to focus on the important tasks that only you can handle.
Do you already have a VA? What are your best tips for virtual assistant hiring?
If you’ve liked this, I think you’ll love our article on tasks that you can outsource to a VA, or maybe this list of awesome VA companies in the Philippines. We’ve also got a list of 10 essential tools to manage virtual assistants and a primer on how to find and hire the best virtual employees.