A growing business needs many more hands to keep it strong!
Running your business needs all your commitment. And once you start scaling it, building the right team can be one of the most challenging undertakings.
And it’s not uncommon to assume that some of the most catastrophic hiring disasters only happen to the tiny companies trying to get their act together.
But that is far from the truth.
Even big companies with lots of employees, end up facing some of the most critical human resource challenges in the industry. And almost two-thirds of them in the US are opting for remote work.
If you are an entrepreneur or mompreneur, or have a small business or a start up, you want to hire someone who comes with a range of skills.
Meet The Virtual Professional (or VA)
You can expand or delegate a range of tasks to a virtual professional, also known as a VA. This is the person to turn to, for jobs that are part of not your main work, but essential to your business, nevertheless. If you run an online boutique, you might need someone who can handle social media, email outreach, or even responding to customer queries, while you focus on design and inventory.
Your VA can take on administrative tasks such as answering emails, data entry and calendar
Management, marketing or anything that can be done virtually and they can interact with you and even your clients online.
The best part? They never need to set foot in your office – thus the term virtual.
Why should you hire a virtual assistant?
Here’s a common question – Do I Really Need to hire a Virtual Professional?
In a majority of cases, if your business is steadily growing, the answer is yes.
Nonetheless, these 4 indicators should be your green light to start hiring.
You have a list of repetitive work you do on a regular basis.
Do you spend a consistent amount of time answering emails everyday?
Or booking venues for client events? Maybe content creation and posting on social media?
Then this is the kind of work you should definitely delegate.
You have a firm understanding of the tasks that need to be outsourced.
Knowing what needs to be done allows you to get skilled hands and train them to handle common tasks efficiently, with minimal supervision.
Your cost-benefit analysis agrees with the decision.
If saving 30% of your time helps you rake in more clients and revenue, then delegating would do your business better.
You don’t need full-time help.
A virtual assistant works on a contractual basis. That means, they cannot take the place of full-time or longterm employees. One off projects and small tasks justify the need for a virtual professional.
So, how Do I Hire a Virtual Professional?
The process you put in place to hire a virtual pro will go a long way in determining the
And to get the process right, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first.
(Or what hiring officers would call a scorecard.)
● What is the job ‘mission’?
Basically, what is the essence of the job? A neat example would be “improving customer
relations through product support.” Or cut down 6 hours a week on content creation. A pro tip is to keep this simple and concise.
● What are the desired competencies?
This should inform how the virtual professional is expected to operate. How well should
his/her time management, socialization, honesty, attention to detail, and organizational
● What does the work and role look like?
Do you have a rough job description of all the work that you need a VA to undertake?
Can you break down the work into clear steps?
Want some inspiration on how a job description looks?
● What are the outcomes you need?
At the end of the day, business works and grows from well-defined goals. Have you clearly outlined
what needs to be accomplished by the end of the quarter, or year. Make sure they are
challenging, yet attainable goals. Be realistic in your expectations.
Hire a Virtual Assistant from where, exactly?
The online world of employment is huge, and it’s hard to pick the right platform. Yet, some are better suited for the type of help you’re after than others. You can hire from an agency or you might even work with freelance entrepreneurs who offer virtual services in their niche.
So if you are wondering where to hire virtual professionals, the first place to begin is your network. Besides that there are several specialized companies you can browse through. The Virtual Hub offers associates at an hourly rate and Prialto works on a monthly charge.
Upwork offers assistants for one-off or ongoing projects and is free to join. From personal experience, this is amongst the easiest platforms to use.
You can also find a large number of women VAs and Virtual Professionals on Maroon Oak. A free Networking and Skills platform, it offers Virtual professionals/pros with numerous types of functional expertise like design, social media, or CRM as well as industry specializations e.g. real estate or healthcare.
PRO TIP: Do not rely on these platforms alone. Build a trusted network that you can consult whenever you need the best talent available to handle some tasks for you and actively seek the right candidate.
Find VAs with a range of expertise
So How do I do the Actual Hiring?
Now that you have your perfect candidates lined up, how do you proceed?
Follow these 4 steps to hire one VA or work with several. When you do this right, you are more likely to establish a good working relationship.
* Evaluate credentials before you connect.
Check out their bio/ resume and / or portfolio to see if they have the skills you need for the particular task. Also, go through testimonials. If you need references, ask for them in the end.
Ask for a link to their portfolio and assess if the claims match the work.
Evaluate or share portfolios the right way!
* Phone and video interviews
Having shortlisted a few VA prospects, set up a phone interview, and have about four questions that you will pose to the candidate. These questions should be centered around the how, what, and tell me more.
Add Top grading (if you are hiring for super-specialized skills like Project Management or Grant Writing etc.)
This step will involve building the same five questions to be asked of all candidates. Focus on (at least 3 to 5) most recent years of working experience. This interview should be a video interview and can last for 1 and a half to three hours.
A focused interview (also optional)
This involves connecting the candidate to any team members and have them conduct an interview to assess whether he/she has the right skills and motivation for the specific task at hand.
Give a Test assignment
A clear, step-by-step first task as a test e.g. how will you write copy for a campaign of 6 social media posts?
You could also consider specialized tests like Personality Tests, Talent Assessment tests or Cognitive function tests.
* Reference checks
Contact a few of the references listed by the candidate and ask them about her. This can provide useful insights about the person, for instance how they blend in well with different organizational cultures, their soft skills etc. These are key elements you shouldn’t forget.
Don’t feel overwhelmed if some of them decline mid-process, it happens more often than you
think (and it means they weren’t the right fit anyway).
Once the interviews are done, grade your candidates and pick your favorite.
* Sell to the Candidate
After you choose your ideal candidate, you need to do the most important bit: Sell.
The most important thing is that your chosen candidate should believe equally in your company and its mission. Additionally, despite being offered an Opportunity with you, some talented candidates may lack the proper motivation to quit their current job and come work for you.
This means that throughout the entire hiring process, you should focus on letting them know how your work matters and why you’re a better option – work-life balance can easily fit into their schedule, good pay, community, purpose and so on.
Here’s a great example of a job description that showcases the company’s passion and motivates candidates to share it.
An opportunity posted on Maroon Oak for a Virtual Assistant had a great brief.
“Join us if you want to make an impact and grow yourself. Our business is truly excited to be creating waves in an industry under transformation. When you join us, we will be focusing not only on your skills but also on your professional and personal ambitions.”
Common questions about hiring VAs
Should I hire a Virtual Professional or VA?
You should consider hiring if you do repetitive work that can be delegated, and you can outsource remotely, but don’t need full-time help.
What should you do before you hire?
Make sure that you understand what they need to do and can explain the tasks clearly. Also assess the time you will be saving or revenue that you will increase by incurring the cost of hiring a VA.
How do I hire someone without meeting them in person?
Hiring remotely is a common practice now. Start with a phone or video interview, assess their skills and personality, review portfolio and references and finally, share why they should work for you.
In a Nutshell
Finding the right virtual professional will be key in taking your business to the next level. But doing so will need you to implement the processes that I have outlined above. And when done right, your team’s success is virtually assured!
Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.