8 things to do before hiring a virtual assistant

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is one of the easiest decisions you can make for your business. There are many benefits to having a Virtual Assistant on-board and the statistics are overwhelmingly in favor of them. But the challenge is hiring the best one for your business.

Here are 8 things to do before hiring a Virtual Assistant. These tips are provided by OutsourceWorkers.  

  1. Define Your Purpose

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs hire virtual assistants. There could be similarities but the applications would depend on what your business needs. The first step in hiring a Virtual Assistant is to figure out why you need one.

  • Do you plan to delegate non-essential tasks?
  • Are you on expansion mode?
  • Are there planning to include a new department but do not have competency to run it effectively?

Knowing your purpose for hiring a Virtual Assistant will set you on the right track in the hiring process. It will help set the guidelines for qualifying the right Virtual Assistant for your business.

  1. Create a System… Then Master It!

There are unique challenges to running a business through the virtual world. Right off the bat, the need for close collaboration has been compromised. Operations will be subject to time-zone differentials, cultural and social nuances and latency issues with technology.

Before hiring a Virtual Assistant, create a system that will support operations. A system is a series of frameworks and processes that organize the way your business will run. When working with virtual assistants you need the following platforms:

  • Project Management
  • File Sharing/ Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Time-Keeping
  • Billing/Invoicing

As the proprietor, your experience will guide you in conceptualizing a system based on the current protocols of your business. Many of the available programs online are free and you can work on them until you become proficient.

  1. Prepare the Scope of Work

Once you have identified the reasons why you need a Virtual Assistant, you should proceed to prepare the scope of work.

Many Virtual Assistant arrangements do not work out because the Virtual Assistant does not know what to do, what the parameters of work are or the expectations. The client expects the Virtual Assistant will know what to do once work goes live.

As experienced as they are, virtual assistants still follow a Learning Curve. If you are running an insurance company and need a Virtual Assistant to set appointments, he or she will need to acclimate themselves into the market and get an idea on how to approach your prospects.

This will take time. The scope of work should itemize the responsibilities they can handle as they work through the Learning Curve.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

  1. Moderate Your Expectations

Clients have to understand that virtual assistants are never a quick-fix solution. Neither should they be expected to turn your business fortunes around overnight.

A Virtual Assistant, as their term implies, is there to lend you assistance. Whatever needs to be done in order to help your business succeed or stay on track, the Virtual Assistant will be there for you.

When you hire a Virtual Assistant, set targets so you can assess how he or she is contributing to your business. The targets should be realistic and flexible.

  1. Identify Your Sources

You can hire your Virtual Assistant through a number of ways:

  • Virtual Assistance Agency. There are many Virtual Assistance agencies online. They offer the advantage of having qualified the virtual assistants that are in their team. They also have more diverse talent and if your Virtual Assistant cannot report for work or has been under-performing, an agency can immediately have him or her replaced.
  • Freelancer. There are many online job markets that bridge clients and service providers. Among the more popular ones are Elance, freelancer.com and guru.com. If you are planning to utilize these services, you have to prepare a comprehensive job post and be ready with your rates.
  • Referrals. A safe way to hire a Virtual Assistant is to get a recommendation from a friend, associate or colleague who has experienced virtual assistance.
  1. Hire Based on Right-Fit

It is standard procedure for clients to place their attention on the Curriculum Vita and online profile. But that should not be your only basis. In fact, it should not account for much of your decision to hire a Virtual Assistant.

A candidate can have the most glowing CV, the most number of certifications and referrals and still under-perform. The reason is he or she may not have fit with your business culture. How we think businesses should run is a function of our experiences. You cannot expect everyone to see it your way.

But when you are working with a Virtual Assistant, he or she should acknowledge your ideas and do their best to support them. Thus, your Virtual Assistant must be right-fit for your business. He or she must understand the purpose of your business. Otherwise, the arrangement will only result in conflict.

  1. Conduct Due Diligence

Go the extra mile when qualifying candidates. It’s not enough that you do interviews, tests and review the CV. Here are a few tips you should consider:

  • Ask for referrals and former clients
  • Google their name
  • Check their social media accounts

If you think this is going overboard on the qualification process, keep in mind that brick-and-mortar companies do these as well. They want to validate the details in the CV and the information given in the interviews. Most of all, they want to know who the candidates are outside the confines of work.

You may be surprised by what will show up with a quick Google search!

  1. Subject Candidates to Tests

If you want to get a preview on how it would be like working with a particular candidate, subject him or her to a paid test period.

Go through the entire process with the candidates; training, orientation and actual work. Establish benchmarks, use online analytics and self-evaluation techniques to grade the performance of each candidate.

A one-week trial period should be enough time to assess the best candidate for your business.

There are many virtual assistants in the market. But not all of them can render expected results for your business. In the same way a full-time employee in a regular office goes through a rigorous recruitment and selection process, the same should apply for a Virtual Assistant.

Take the time to qualify your Virtual Assistant. The time and effort spent will be worth it.

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