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We are proud to present this guest post from Jess Ostroff. Jess is the Director of Calm at the virtual assistant agency, Don’t Panic Management.
A great virtual assistant is more than just someone to take care of your appointments and data – they can become a partner to you and your business and help keep you on track for success.
Finding this magical assistant can be tricky, but is not impossible. Use these five tactics to hire the virtual assistant of your dreams:
Start looking for an assistant before you’re ready to hire one. Beginning the conversation with a few different candidates will help you get a feel for their communication style while introducing them to your company and needs. Keep tabs on their social networks, check in with them via email, and schedule some Skype dates to get better acquainted. Most virtual assistants (VAs) will be open to this kind of conversation because they understand the sensitivity of their position. Even if you don’t end up hiring someone for months, or even years later, developing a relationship with someone you can trust is paramount.
More and more people are using VAs every day, and the nature of the work means that many VAs work for a variety of different clients in different capacities. Ask your colleagues and friends if they’ve worked with or know of someone who has the skills that you’re looking for and is open to new work. A recommendation from someone you trust is extremely valuable when hiring any position, especially someone who is working virtually.
If you couldn’t get any recommendations (or weren’t happy with those that were recommended), consider turning to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful tool because it can help you find someone who has experience with the skills you need. After all, if you don’t have time to manage your schedule, you certainly don’t have time to do extensive training with a VA.
Try doing a LinkedIn search for two terms: the skill you’re looking for and the term “virtual assistant”. Spend some time digging through the work experience, skills, and recommendations of the people that come up in your search. Then, reach out to the ones you like best by sending them a LinkedIn request and including a message that has some information about your needs.
Do at least 2 interviews with your chosen candidates, and make sure at least one of them is through video chat or in-person. Ask them about previous positions, strengths, weaknesses, and how they have handled mistakes and conflicts in the past. Find out about their personal hobbies and work style as these can help you develop an even deeper connection, build the trust level, and alert you to any potential conflicts. Communication and rapport are some of the most important parts of a successful relationship with your virtual assistant. Also, don’t forget to ask about rates to make sure they can work within your budget!
Once you’ve found a few people that you like, give them a test assignment that is in line with the types of projects they will be handling for you. Be prepared to pay for the tests, and make sure you have outlined specific instructions and clear guidelines for them.
While they are performing your test assignment, do a background check of past experiences and references. I also recommend asking for writing samples from your VA since writing is an integral part of marketing and communications.
The VA who follows your directions, is professional in their communications, and maintains a positive attitude is the one you should hire.
Investing Pays Off
Working with a virtual assistant can change your life. Just make sure you’re prepared to invest a bit of time and energy up front to ensure your relationship with your VA is as healthy as possible by providing them with clear expectations, processes for completing work, and deadlines (even if you have to make them up). If you don’t already have these things in place, hold off on hiring a VA until you do. The money and time will be well spent if you’re prepared and ready to delegate.
Remember: The amount you want to grow depends on how much you’re willing to let go.
Do you have a VA success story and a tip on how you found your VA? Please let us know in the comments below!