I am a wholehearted advocate for the use of Virtual Assistants and swear by them. The concept of a VA, (virtual assistant) has really taken off over the last few years and access to skills and expertise has been made easier by online marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork and People Per Hour. Access is a major positive, but unfortunately this also makes the task of finding the right VA for you and your business a lot more difficult. It can take time and effort, and it’s not all smooth sailing… enough of the wrong choices and you might just give up, but I urge you not to! This article highlights 10 key considerations to help make the process of hiring a VA a little easier. Stick with it, and you will be rewarded for your perseverance!
So, what exactly is a virtual assistant? The term virtual is a little misleading… and perhaps more appropriate would be the term, remote assistant. Nonetheless, the more established and recognised term is virtual assistant, so for the purposes of this article, this is the term that I’ll stick to. Over the last few years, the ‘remit’ of the virtual assistant, and the access to these services has increased dramatically! What began as opportunities for companies to remotely take care of certain tasks such as transcription, typing scanned documents, data entry and cold-calling for lead generation, has now expanded to include almost all tasks that a personal, executive or administrative assistant would do, and far more. The virtual assistant role has now developed to the point of encompassing a far wider spectrum of tasks… you can find virtual assistant that can help with web and graphic design, social media and other marketing, research, the usual administrative tasks, and more. This job ‘role’ is allowing more and more people the flexibility to work remotely, and around other commitments. For this reason, people with a variety of skills are benefiting from including themselves in this pool.
So, this all sounds great, and it might very well seem like this option is an answer to your prayers, particularly if you’re a small business, starting up, or you yourself are an entrepreneur who works remotely. Take it from me, finding the right virtual assistant, or even pool of virtual assistants is like a dream come true. Achieving this isn’t a straightforward or easy process though, so be prepared to spend the time and make the effort to find the right person or team for you.
Now, on to the tips that can help you navigate the process and make it a little easier for you…
1) Be very clear about what your expectations are, what tasks you want done, how long you anticipate this will take and what your budget is for the tasks. Be aware that whilst it’s possible to get a VA very reasonably.
2) Rethink your budget. If you are short on time, and don’t want to waste it trawling through hundreds of potential low-cost candidates, it is sometimes worth spending a little more in order to recruit someone with more experience and who works to a higher standard.
3) At times it can be worthwhile allocating a slightly higher budget to a task, whittling down the pool of potential VAs, and then hiring more than one on the same task.
4) Before you agree to any larger pieces of work, pick a smaller job that you want completed, and negotiate terms based on the scope of the work, timelines, and budget. Once this been agreed, start reviewing potential VAs with a few key points in mind:
- a) Availability: Many VAs have a number of clients that they work for at the same time. Even if you are only hiring for a smaller job to assess the candidate pool, you want to make certain at the outset that the VAs you recruit have the time available to allocate to your additional tasks should you choose to pursue a longer term working arrangement. Knowing this from the outset will save you the trouble of fully vetting candidates that may not be able to work for you thereafter. (Note: Due to the nature of VA work, even when you find the perfect person for you, it is worth considering splitting the work so that you’re not left in the lurch should you be left without a VA on short notice, or alternatively, have your VA continually update a handover file that will help with a transition to a new VA).
- b) Professionalism: Consider whether the VA answers his or her emails, voicemails and other correspondence in a timely and professional manner?
- c) Time management: If possible, choose a task that you can divide into milestones and then assess the VA’s commitment to these.
- d) Quality: Consider the standard of the work delivered and whether it meets or exceeds your expectations.
- e) Project management: Try to find a VA that displays project management skills. This may seem like a high expectation, but good VAs are able to juggle multiple tasks at once in a comfortable and organised way. This is what you want, rather than someone who will buckle under the pressure of varied tasks.
- f) Endorsements: Get references and testimonials from VAs particularly if considering more long-term work. Check these for authenticity and don’t hesitate to contact references for feedback on the VA with regard to the type of tasks you want done.
The right VA can be a tremendous asset to you and your business. Their services cover an expanse far wider than the average in-house administrative, personal or executive assistant, and they can help relieve a great deal of pressure by making sure some of the details of the business are taken care of in the business, while you work on the business.
By bearing the above points in mind and using them as a guide when hiring a VA, you’ll hopefully better be able to navigate the process, and move closer to finding the perfect VA a lot sooner, and with less trial and error. Good luck!