How to Hire a Virtual Assistant (and Why Everyone Should Do It)

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Hire a Virtual Assistant

Welcome to a world where location doesn’t matter, and assistants can complete tasks for you from halfway around the planet. This is the magic that happens when you hire a virtual assistant.

By now, you’ve probably gone through the usual woes of an entrepreneur.

You feel like you’re accomplishing a lot, but your to-do list remains long.

You’ve reached a point where everything is a priority, and you don’t know really know what to focus on.

You’ve even wondered at one point whether there was a way to add more to the 24 hours we have in a single day.

If this sounds like you, you need to hire a virtual assistant.

What’s In It for Me? The Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Some of you may not be convinced that a virtual assistant is an answer that you’re looking for.

And if it’s your first time doing it, that’s understandable.

Especially if this business is your baby, you don’t want a complete stranger messing things up.

But you don’t want to end up messing things up yourself just because you did not give the idea a try.

Here are a few things that could convince you to hire a virtual assistant.

Advantage #1: Better productivity

Make a list of the things you’re juggling at the moment. Are all of these things that only you can do?

I bet you’ve got a few items on your list that anybody in the world can do, like sorting through files, entering data into a spreadsheet, plotting appointment requests on your calendar, or simply doing research on new suppliers you can work with.

Passing these tasks on to a virtual assistant can greatly reduce your workload, leaving you to focus on the things that nobody else can do but you.

Advantage #2: Lower costs

“But I can hire an assistant who can come into the office every day!”

Before you push for that argument, think about whether you really need an actual person right there in your office.

You’ll have to provide a desk and a laptop or a computer. In-person employees also require a lot of added benefits. Otherwise, they wouldn’t see the point of coming in to work for you. That alone can cost you a lot.

When you pay for a virtual assistant, the VA has the whole setup ready at home. Virtual assistants pay for their own internet. They have their own laptops. And if their internet connection is down, it’s not going to be your problem. They’ll jump from one internet café to another just to find a way to get connected.

Virtual assistants also charge less than regular employees. They understand that they are independent contractors, which means that they get paid for the time and effort they put in, and that’s it. No other strings attached.

Advantage #3: Improved work quality

Come on, you can’t be an expert at everything. There are bound to be a few tasks on your to-do list that you’re struggling with (but you hate admitting that fact, so you still continue to do it).

Content creation, for example. You may be wasting hours just staring at your screen, thinking of a blog post. A professional content writer can do that in a snap and at a reasonable cost.

You may be using those DIY websites where you just drag and drop elements on every page but end up with an unappealing landing page that would probably scare potential clients away. A remote developer can deliver a better deal for you.

By letting go of the things that you’re not good at, you have more time to focus on the things that you’re actually good at. You can have a whole team of experts working for you, helping your business improve in different aspects.

Advantage #4: Completely scalable

Every business owner has long-term plans for growing their business.

But in today’s digital world, that doesn’t necessarily mean moving into a much bigger, fancier office. Now, scalability is a matter of growing your reach and adding to your existing manpower.

With a virtual team working with you, the possibilities are endless!

You don’t even have to worry about whether you have space to double or triple your staff. As long as you have a solid communication platform and dependable productivity software that allows your entire team to touch base when needed, you can become a global organization in a snap.

Advantage #5: Better flexibility

Hiring an in-person assistant means that this person would probably follow the usual office hours unless you agree to pay more for them to adjust according to your needs.

Well, virtual assistants live for flexibility. The fact that they work remotely means that they can grab their laptop anytime you need them.

Plus, virtual assistants are usually paid by the hour or by the amount of work they produce unless you have agreed on a fixed salary. See? That’s another area where virtual assistants show flexibility.

Hiring Virtual Assistant

Steps in Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Convinced that you need a virtual assistant?

Considering those benefits, you should be!

Now, the next question would be, how do you hire a virtual assistant?

Here are 5 easy steps to get you started on your hunt for the best VA out there.

Step 1: Make a list of the tasks you want to outsource.

What tasks do you think you need a virtual assistant for?

There’s a ton of stuff that virtual assistants can do for you.

Take a good look at your to-do list.

How many of those things can you pass on to someone else?

Here are just some of the things virtual assistants can do for you:

  • Accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll
  • Appointment setting
  • Basic IT services
  • Blogging and other forms of content creation
  • Customer support
  • Data entry
  • Database management
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Graphic design
  • Photo Editing
  • SEO management
  • Social media management
  • Transcription
  • Website development and management

Name it, there’s a VA who can do it! It’s just a matter of deciding which tasks stay with you and which tasks to give away.

Interested in what else virtual assistants can do for you? Here are 101 tasks that virtual assistants can do for you!

Which tasks should you let your VA do?

Finally! A chance to focus on all the right things – as in income-generating things.

But how do you figure out which tasks you should be passing on to your VA?

Thinking about all the work you do for your business, categorize them into 4 parts:

  • Tasks you should be doing – These are high-value tasks that you’re really good at and that you really enjoy doing.
  • Tasks you should not be doing – These are low-value tasks that prove to be time wasters for you, regardless if you’re good at them or if you enjoy doing them.
  • Tasks you don’t really want to do – These are tasks you hate doing.
  • Tasks you can’t really do – These are tasks that require some special skills that you have little to no background or training on.

Note that this isn’t something you should do in passing, nor is it a decision you should rush. This requires some heavy thinking, especially if you’re the type of person who hates losing control over things you used to do on your own.

Take the time to think about it, especially when it comes to tasks that you really should be doing.

If your only forte on your list, for example, lies in one-to-one conversations with clients and closing deals, then this is what you should be doing. Leave everything else to the VA you’ll be hiring.

To avoid common mistakes while hiring virtual assistants – check these 13 Tips for Hiring A Virtual Assistant!

Step 2: Write a job description.

Writing a job description is a tough chore. You want to attract only the right people to make your task of hiring a suitable candidate a whole lot easier.

What does a great job description contain?

Job Overview

Write an overview of the job. Start off with what you’re looking for and what kind of business you have.

Don’t make this introduction too lengthy. You want key applicants to be interested enough and figure out whether they’re a good fit or not, but don’t give away too much that they won’t want to read on and check out the specifics of the job.

Tasks and responsibilities

Specify tasks that you expect your virtual assistant to take care of.

Be as thorough as you can! You don’t want to waste your time leaving out some key tasks and finding out later on that the person you hired isn’t really up to doing that.

Even if it’s a task that your VA will not really do every day but MIGHT possibly do later on, add it to the list anyway.

Making this a bulleted list is the best way to do it. This makes it easy to scan.

Requirements and qualifications

Another bulleted list should show the minimum requirements that your virtual assistant should have.

!!! Pro Reminder!!! Don’t overdo this part. It doesn’t make sense to require a Bachelor’s Degree if you only expect your VA to set appointments or do data entry on MS Excel for you. Reserve the heavy qualifications for job postings with tasks that require some technical training, like web development or graphic design.

Plus points

Feel free to have a separate list of things that would give candidates an edge over other applicants.

If you’re hiring a content writer, for example, you can say that some background knowledge in SEO would be great to have, although not required.

Additional instructions

Some employers like adding special instructions to their job posts.

This makes sense because this can already show you which of the applicants actually read the entire post in detail and are actually capable of following instructions.

For instance, you can give them a special word or phrase that they’re supposed to use as a subject line when sending you an email.

You can also give them a few questions they can answer that could immediately help you eliminate unworthy candidates, depending on their responses.

Salary

Most job posting sites have a dedicated section where you’re required to post how much you’re willing to pay the VA you’re going to hire.

Make sure the price you post is within industry standards. Otherwise, you may attract the wrong crowd.

To give you an idea, here’s the average pay for virtual assistants based on their job title:

  • General Virtual Assistants: $500 to $800 a month  
  • Content Writers: $500 to $700 a month  
  • SEO Specialists: $750 to $950 a month  
  • Web Developers: $800 to $1400 a month  
  • Graphic Designers: $700 to $1200 a month  
  • Mobile App Developers: $800 to $1400 a month  

It also pays to be flexible in terms of salary.

You can say that the salary is negotiable so that experts who want to give the position a try but expect higher pay will still send their applications.

Who knows? You may end up with someone who has mastered the ins and outs of the business and could give you the traction you need to really grow your business.

I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for that!

You could also give a price range if you have a limited budget and specify that the pay would depend on the applicant’s experience and background.

Learn more about paying your remote employees here.

Step 3: Post the job opening online.

Where you put your job posting is just as important as what you put in it.

If your job post ends up in the wrong place, you’ll either end up sorting through applicants that don’t match your requirements or find yourself staring at your screen, waiting for non-existent applications to come in.

Either way, you waste your time.

So, where should you post this opportunity of a lifetime?

Here are some VA agencies to look at:

Some best freelancing platforms to hire a Filipino virtual assistant are:

Make sure you go through the terms and conditions of each site you post your job openings on. Each site has a different setup, and this could affect the way you do business with your virtual assistant in the long run.

Some job posting sites, for example, may not protect your rights as an employer in case your VA suddenly disappears or stops working.

Some places may also charge exorbitant fees just to connect you with a virtual assistant.

Weigh the pros and cons of each site and go from there.

Step 4: Review all applications and come up with a shortlist.

You’ve now got applications coming in, hopefully, with most of them matching your needs.

How do you figure out who to hire?

Start with two basic piles – a discard pile and a “maybe” pile.

For every single application that matches these 3 descriptions, throw them into the discard pile no matter how appealing other factors of their resume are.

  • Does not meet your basic requirements
  • Does not follow instructions
  • Shows a number of errors

Now, you have a “maybe” pile.

If you find that there are still quite a lot of them, rank them from best to worst. Choose the best 3 to 5 people, depending on how appealing their applications are.

From here, you can let them go through some basic tests.

Here are some assessment options:

  • A typing test if you want them to do a lot of data entry jobs
  • Some basic logic tests if you want to leave them with some minor decision-making skills
  • Personality exams if you really want to get along with them well
  • Sample writing tests for content writers

Or you can put together a questionnaire that covers a number of points like how they work, how they deal with challenges, what their strengths and weaknesses are, etc.

You can also combine any of these exams, depending on the kind of work you plan on making your VA do.

Writers, graphics artists, and web developers usually have a portfolio that showcases some of their best work. You can refer to these to gauge their skill level.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

Step 5: Hire the best candidate.

Congratulations! The hard part is done, and you finally have a VA that you want to work with.

It’s time for your chosen virtual assistant to showcase the skills and knowledge that you hired him or her for.

But before leaving them to work on their own, you have to make sure you’re not setting them up for failure.

Here are a few tips that will help you maximize the advantages of having a virtual assistant.

Orientation or onboarding

Your orientation can make or break your working relationship with your virtual assistant, so make sure you prepare for this.

Schedule your first call and make sure you cover the following topics:

  • Background on the business covering the kind of work you do, the kind of clients you have, and other relevant information
  • The daily routine
  • Platforms, software, and systems used.
  • Your expectations
  • Payments, including how often they’ll get paid and what payment channels you’ll use
  • A question and answer part where your VA can clarify the specifics of the job

Try to make this a little personal as well. Don’t just dive right into business. It’s nice to actually know who your virtual assistant is.

Find out what things they enjoy and what they do in their spare time. Ask them about their work habits, music preferences, and other stuff that would help you get to know them better.

Trial period

Set a reasonable trial period. This allows your VA to have a learning curve while also knowing that they have to reach a certain quality or level by a certain time.

For a data entry specialist, for example, you can say that it’s okay to start off with a few pages worth of information encoded into your database for the first week. Then, increase that target in the succeeding weeks until they reach the optimal number.

Set the expectation of what’s going to happen once they reach that target within the trial period.

!!! Pro Reminder!!! It’s better to give them something to look forward to instead of scaring them that they’re out of a job if they don’t do it right within the trial period. You can promise a little bonus or even a pay increase when they reach the end of the trial period, for example. 

What happens if they fail to meet the expectations when the trial period ends?

Be firm and let them know that although you appreciate their time and effort, you would have to let them go. Remember that this is still a business, and a single weak link can pull you down.

Don’t stop there, though. There are tons of great virtual assistants who can do better. Go through the hiring process again, and for sure, you’ll end up with a winner.

Performance management

As much as possible, have a clear process on how you’re going to gauge your VA’s performance.

Pinpoint measurable items on their task list, like how many articles they’re supposed to finish and what deadlines they have to meet.

Always update them on their performance. You don’t want to find yourself being questioned at the end of the trial period just because your virtual assistant had no inkling that they were not performing well.

Other tips

Here are some other tips that will help you maximize the expertise of your virtual assistant:

  • Be mindful of the amount of work you’re asking your VA to do. Give them too little to do, and they become complacent. Give them too much, and they’ll get burned out.
  • Always keep an open line of communication. Make sure your VA knows that you’re a message away if they’re in doubt about anything.
  • Don’t micromanage! It’s acceptable to check in on them every so often, but let them apply their own approach and create learning opportunities. Step in only when you see that their way just isn’t working anymore.
  • Be generous with affirmations, and be mindful about how you deliver criticism. It’s not about babying your employee or giving them too much tough love. It’s about finding balance.

If you want more detailed tips on managing a remote team, read this post.

Bonus Tip!

If you want to find a perfect match, try getting a virtual assistant from eVirtualAssistants.

eVirtualAssistants considers the needs of both the employer and the virtual worker and makes sure that both are happy with the deal they’re getting.

The team behind eVirtualAssistants is also experienced in the virtual workspace, so everyone knows what the needs of employers and virtual workers are. This allows the team to lay out processes and systems that actually work.

Are you ready to start hiring? Click here to get started.

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