Hiring & Working w/ a Virtual Assistant: Finding Your VA
This is part one of the “Hiring and Working w/ a Virtual Assistant (VA)” series! Be sure to keep an eye out for the other parts!
This series can be used for hiring any type of freelancer, but we will focus on “VA.”
In this article we are going to dive into the benefits of hiring a VA and how to start finding one. For those in my newsletter community, you can an exclusive download on sample interview questions you can use during your hiring process!
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Let’s start with the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant!
Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Increases your opportunity to find people with skill sets you need from around the world
Offers flexibility for your position, working hours and allows you to set expectations that meet your specific business needs
Able to find people to complete tasks you need to highlight (or things you do not like doing)
There is an amazing pool of talent from around the world that can support your business growth
You are able to hire niche specific talent as needed
You are able to hire increased skill sets
Makes watching any international event such as the Olympics so much more fun! I’ve had an entirely new appreciation for watching countries marching now that I know people from them and have heard of them!
So now that we know the major benefits, let’s look at how to find your VA.
Creating Realistic and Inviting “I am hiring” Posts
For this section, I am focusing on finding a VA on Upwork, a freelancer site. However, this advice can also apply to any other platform such as different Facebook Entrepreneur groups.
You might be asking:
“Why have a special section on this? Can’t I just post anything online and the PERFECT VA will appear?”
Let’s be frank: there are currently 12 million registered freelancers on Upwork. This means there IS someone that fits your project needs, but where are they?
The adventure is in finding them.
Your “project post” is the only tool you have to communicate your expectations to potential freelancers AND you are opening yourself up to receive lots and lots and lots of proposals to screen.
Taking time to create realistic, accurate posts is one of the actions that will help determine the success of your posting and to eliminate many proposals from freelancers.
Remember successful postings equals an easier life for you!
A quick thought to ponder
Creating a post for a freelance project is not the same as creating a job posting for a corporate job.
What do I mean by this?
As we all know, within the formal hiring process there are a lot of rules and requirements which shape how information is presented in a hiring post. This is not the case when hiring project based freelancers.
When I was working as a Program Coordinator for the Upwork Professionals team – I started with the mindset that I had in corporate America as a hiring manager and in HR.
Not to say corporate America is dishonest, but there is more wiggle room when writing a full-time job description as you will be working with the person for (hopefully) a long time.
For project based freelancers, you might only work with them for a short period of time. That doesn’t give much wiggle room. Really detailing the expectations of working together and the project outcome is a must.
When you create a realistic and inviting post, the freelancers that are the best fit will be drawn in while those less qualified or not a great fit will be reduced. Thus, the need to review unqualified proposals will diminish so your productivity in finding someone will increase!
Steps to create successful post
1) Prior to creating the post, spend a few minutes visualizing the desired outcome of this project or what the person doing this specific job will look like
2) Identify ‘Must Have’ skills and experience – these are non-negotiable.
Gather this now before you meet a person you like. Lowering your expectations of the experience needed because you like a person will have a long term negative impact on your project. It is tempting, but you need to have a firm filter for candidates of what skills and abilities you they must possess.
1) Use the information above to start your job posting.
2) The posting should include the who, what, when, where, why, how and how much of your project
Add any specific project requests in the project description
1. You want someone to check your email at 1:00 pm Eastern daily
2. You want someone who has experience with excel pivot tables
3. You want someone who can read and figure out next steps with your email
4. This is a new project so we will figure out your specific tasks as we go
6) Ask specific questions in the proposal for any skills and experience from your must do list.
1. Tell me about a time you provided support to an Entrepreneur. How did you structure your day and communication with them?
2. Tell me about a project you managed / coordinated with multiple freelancers from multiple countries? What tools did you use and how did you keep track of expectations?
3. Tell me about the system and tools you used as an VA to track your clients priorities, tasks and communications.
4. Tell me about your experience with setting up projects, templates and tracking tasks with (Asana, Wrike, Monday, Trello).
Adding as much detail as possible paints a realistic picture for the candidate of what you are expecting.
The final decision making process!
1) Does the person meet your list of musts?
When starting the hiring process, I spend a few minutes creating a list of hiring musts. This list includes all of the skills, abilities and experience the candidate must have for this to be a successful ongoing relationship.
2) Does this experience feel right? Can you see yourself communicating with this person for the duration of your project?
3) Do YOU feel comfortable giving them access to parts of your life?
Think about it: depending on the project type, you will be giving access to various parts of your life. Look at this person and ask yourself, based on this conversation, do you feel comfortable with this freelancer? If not, walk away and find someone else.
4) Is it worth hiring this person for a few hours to complete a task?
5) Is it worth hiring multiple candidates for a few hours to see who meets your expectations?
I hope this article has helped with your decision to hire a VA or freelancer! Of course, I am not telling you that you SHOULD hire anyone, but if you find that hiring someone helps your productivity and helps you and your business grow, this article is a great resource to keep in your back pocket!
Once again, be sure to sign up for my newsletter community where I give out additional resources and tips including exclusive downloads!
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