…is all about finding the right employee. Sure, you must have on board a reliable and top-quality worker. But you also have to consider what part of the world your virtual assistant is; you’ve got to have the work tools suited for the routines; and most of all, you’ve got to understand how it is to work virtual service provider.
Drum roll, dim the lights. This… is NOT American Idol. It’s about what to do next after you decide that you do need a virtual assistant. And this… is still NOT American Idol although I love the show. This is a post inspired by a very interesting discussion with lovely Theresa at Bigfishtopdogs.com. Of course, Theresa would’ve made up her mind by now, the wise woman that she is. But still, I’d like to share my ideas on how to find the right virtual assistant for you.
Don’t hire right away. In short, take it slow. Many employers jump in too soon. Some even lay down the best rates or pays, and after a few weeks, their VAs just disappears. Then they’d have to start all over again. So the best thing is to take it slow and wise.
Advertise your need for a VA for just one specific job. The best way to start would be indicate you want a good researcher AND writer. Ask applicants to send in the usual – CVs or portfolio, fresh writing samples specific to your niche and set aside thirty minutes at the most chatting or talking to short-listed applicants. Why? Because CVs can be made at the flick of a finger. But how much they know, they’re style of writing and the swiftness – or slowness – of complying with the simplest requirements is already an indication of their attitude towards work. Plus, you MUST chat or talk with the shortlisted peeps to know them better. Ask about their work sked, family, salary expectations, previous work, educational background, internet connection and goals in life.
Then ask about their other skills and abilities such as social media management, data entry, experience with customer support and others. The friendly chat would speak a lot for their personality as well as their potential to be your employee.
So be like an avid American Idol follower. Don’t hesitate to vote off those who don’t keep up!
After all these, pick the top five. Give them paid assignments or projects for the week. Then give some more work for the next week and the next. After a month, the applicant or trainee who lasts and provided the best output is YOUR virtual assistant. All the rest, particularly those who have lots of excuses or those that just disappear, are not good employee materials. Just eliminate them. And unlike American Idol, don’t allow them to come back for the next audition.
Now, on to the next round now that you’ve found the right candidate.
Set communications and schedules well. Most clients’ dilemma over online service providers is communications. In particular, if you’re from Portland, OR and your VA is from Batangas in the Philippines, there’s just about an hour or two that you’re both online at the same time! So it’s important that both ends agree on ways to communicate, like emails and being on Skype. It’s recommended you get a work management tool at this point so you could keep track of work assignments, actual work hours and other exchanges of information. Also, do agree about deadlines.
For the first month, you might have to keep you new VA on close watch. This is to make sure the tasks are done accordingly and for you to respond ASAP to their questions. Would-be bosses, please understand that even the most experienced VAs would have questions. Even if you don’t see us, we are humans. Really.
Assign tasks clearly. And increase workload gradually. Like you, the right VAs wants things done excellently. Ehem! You give hazy instructions, you get messed output. Have an efficient method of assigning tasks, explaining how it should be done and indicating deadlines. Instead of sending out an instruction that says, “link building activity; 6 hours per week” make it clearer by putting it this way: “Find 50 blogs in our niche; Comment on 10 different blogs everyday; Opt to be notified or subscribe; Compile feedbacks.”
Well, yes. My suggestion would take some 2-4 minutes of any employer’s time. But then again, if you invest those minutes on writing clear instructions, you get the best results. Also, I strongly suugest that you write all instructions in an MS Word file. That’s the best way to go. Then upload it via Google docs. Or if it’s more convenient, attach it as a file.
By the way, don’t give out the whole forty-hours-per week right away. Start your VA with 20 hours for the first week or two. Only decide on the forty-hour week once you’re satisfied with your virtual help’s performance.
And so. Fast forward to two weeks later, you could add two tasks or more. After eight weeks with you, that VA isn’t just the right person for the job; that person is a star! and would be a growing asset to your business or online endeavor. So to all of you who wants to find the right virtual assistant, good luck and have a fruitful search.
Do remember: You may not find the right virtual assistant right away. Instead, you’d find an experienced online worker who has positive work ethics. You could make that worker the right virtual assistant. Yeah, like Randy, Steve and J.Lo does. Help shape up the right VA for you!
P.S. The best abilities and experience to go for in a VA would be: great writing, organization and communication skills. I am also partial to people with great interest at learning, truly engaging and vibrant, and goes out of their way to make things easier for me.