How to Find a Virtual Assistant
If you’re ready to start looking for a Virtual Assistant (VA), that’s great! I’m happy to pass on all the tips and tricks I’ve learned through my own process of finding, interviewing, and ultimately hiring VAs. If you’re still not sure if you’re ready for one or not, check out my previous blog detailing the benefits and advantages VAs can provide. I’ve been using Virtual Assistants for several years and by now, I’ve streamlined the hiring process. I’ve compressed it down, from start to finish, to these 4 simple steps for hiring a Virtual Assistant:
1: Google it.
It’s true that not everything on the internet has been peer-reviewed but Google can easily help you get your bearings. I recommend a key phrase or word search to see who out there is current and reputable. Phrases like: “using a virtual assistant” or “hiring virtual assistants” will generally bring up at least a few options that will fit even your specific needs.
2: Get savvy.
Once you’ve found a few providers to look at, you’ll want to know a few things about the different countries Virtual Assistants tend to work from. 3 simple things to check for right off the bat are:
- Wages. Explore what kind of wages you’ll be paying. Different countries have very different minimum wages, meaning how much leverage you get for your dollar is going to be up to you. A quick internet search will yield all the information you need for a crash course on global economics.
- Internet. Internet connection is not the same everywhere you go. Some countries have poor infrastructure, others have excess governmental interference. If your Virtual Assistant doesn’t have a reliable connection, you’ll have trouble communicating and difficulty getting completed work on time.
- Language. English fluency is something you’ll be happy you made into a necessary requirement. Lucky for us, it’s the international language of business. A VA is supposed to make your life easier by removing burdens, not creating them. If you can’t understand each other you’ll only wind up frustrated.
3: Create a Job Posting
I sourced my first virtual assistant from the precursor site to what is now Upwork; a great site for inexpensive outsourced professional services. Which site you use will be up to you but job posting etiquette is pretty much the same no matter where you go. How simple or complicated you choose to be is up to you, but I recommend finding the top 2 or 3 tasks you’ll be focusing on and making sure to highlight those; for me that was (1) cataloging my new contacts and (2) managing my social networking. Accurate, clearly-stated requirements make it easy for applicants to know if they can really fill the position or not, limiting the number of bogus applications you’ll have to sift through.
I asked my potential applicants to submit 3 additional pieces of information, along with their job application:
1. A writing sample, in whatever form they deemed appropriate.
- A writing sample is pretty straightforward but I want to emphasize that I really focus on the written word. By that I mean spelling, grammar, and writing style. If I can’t understand what they are trying to say, we aren’t going to be able to work together.
2. A recording, their reading a paragraph from an article off a popular US news site.
- News websites are written in pretty simple language, plus it’s something I can easily look up to verify accuracy. This goes back to what I mentioned about English fluency, because you won’t want to be wasting time with a language barrier.
3. A DISC Profile from Tony Robbins’ website.
- Ok I know this one might catch some of you off-guard, but this is a great resource for maximizing your professional interpersonal relationships. Tony Robbins has a system to identify behavioral traits, helping people understand their own personalities and which personalities they work best with. For example, you’ll want a VA who is high S and C, as they tend to be dedicated and accurate with their work. Someone who is high D and I (like most entrepreneurs, interestingly enough) will be turned off by details and might be more concerned with other projects. It pays to take the time to find someone you can really get along with.
4: The Interview Process
I received about 30 replies to my initial posting but rather than spend the time individually interviewing 30 people, I wanted to quickly and easily reduce that list. For the first round of executions:
- Applicants had to meet the requirements I had previously set forth. Not all had, making it easy to eliminate a few right away.
- They must have logged in at least 300 hours of work on Upwork. I certainly don’t want to be their first project, and I want their processes to be fairly streamlined.
- They must have a rating of 4.5 stars or better, simply because I want someone who does a good job and there’s no reason to settle.
After applying my first set of filters to the list of potential applicants, I selected the top five for a working interview:
- Each applicant received 20 different business cards.
- I gave them instructions to manage my contacts the same as if they worked for me. They were to scan the info into my CRM software, then create contacts in my iCloud.
- For each applicant I picked 2 cards at random, verified their accuracy, and within a short period of time a leader emerged.
“If you can’t easily communicate to your VA because of internet or language barriers, it won’t be a good fit and you should definitely look for someone else.”
The process isn’t that complicated once you break it down. The key is to spend the extra time researching on the front-end, saving you from wasted productivity and resources later on. If you’re thorough, you’ll find a VA who is a great fit for you and great at what they do.