If you spend a lot of time on unproductive tasks that don’t generate value, it might be time to outsource some of your duties offshore. A virtual assistant is a professional who offers administrative, technical or creative assistance remotely from their home office.
Often we are asked how we go about appointing a virtual assistant, so we have detailed below a guide to help you find one for your business.
This recruitment process was adapted from Andrew Leunig’s, VA Recruitment Process.
We have designed these documents for our use, therefore you will need to tailor your job requirements to suit your business needs.
IDENTIFY NON-ESSENTIAL TASKS THAT YOU WANT TO OUTSOURCE
You can get started by keeping a list of what you do every day and tick off the ones that a virtual assistant could do for you. Write out instructions for how to do each task. Start developing a job description for the post depending on the skill set you require.
POST YOUR JOB AD ON FREELANCING SITES
Based on your job description, you can now develop a job ad. Make sure also to be clear on details like compensation, duration (will it be a long-term engagement?) and employment type (will it be a full-time position?).
There are a number of freelancing sites you may consider in appointing a virtual assistant. We have identified 3 sites you might want to check:
Onlinejobs is a great source for Filipino virtual assistants, with Pro monthly plan at $49. I recruited my VA, Liza, through this website.
Odesk is a well-known freelance marketplace with an extensive pool of virtual assistants . We used Odesk when we had our website redesigned and the experience was a breeze! You can track your VA’s hourly work through its built-in progress snapshot tool, so you will know every dollar is well spent. It is free to register, post jobs and hire a VA. The freelancer rate is already inclusive in the 10% Odesk fee, so employers pay nothing extra.
Freelancer is perhaps the biggest outsourcing site after it acquired two freelancing marketplaces – vWorker and Scriptlance. Registering an account is free, but you will be charged a fixed price project fee of 3% for your job posting. Other membership plans are also available depending on your hiring needs.
SHORTLIST AND TEST BEFORE YOU INTERVIEW
Appointing a virtual assistant can be a daunting task with 80-100 applications on-hand. What we did was shortlisted then sent out relevant exercises for our applicants to complete.
- Based on their applications, we shortlisted our applicants and sent out a job questionnaire. You can use Surveymonkey or Google forms to send this. Out of say 80 applicants, we choose 15-20 and emailed our questionnaire to them. Some of them did not respond, making the shortlist more manageable.
- Based on the responses, we shortlisted again to 8-10 applicants and sent out 2-3 simple tasks for them to complete.
We have listed below some suggested tasks, but these will vary depending on what skills you need in your business:
- Write a 300-word blog content
- Prepare a spreadsheet report
- Transcribe meeting notes
- Prepare a brief PPT/Prezi presentation
- Research some information related to your industry
- Data entry
Here are some sample activities we sent to the applicants:
- Write a 300-word blog post on a given topic.
- Create a newsletter mock-up to be sent out to clients via email. Use the blog post you have written as content. Briefly state how you intend to send it to our clients.
- Narrate how you will promote your blog content in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Indicate what you will post, your schedule of posting, etc.
- Prepare a short presentation for a client based on the information provided.
- Based on what you receive, choose 3-4 applicants to proceed to interview stage. We usually conduct interviews via Skype.
During the shortlisting process, take note of key factors like timeliness, how they present their outputs and how they communicate. It is important at this stage that you take note of these things and you are satisfied with the standard of work from the virtual assistant.
Once you have appointed a VA, ensure that you are both clear about engagement terms, payment and conditions. Confirm in writing so that these terms are understood.
The whole appointment process enables you to have a structure for finding a suitable VA for your business. If you use the process above, let us know in the comments how it went and if you were successful. What are the key areas you think need to be improved? We are keen to further enhance the process and help others get their act together and start delegating their work to virtual assistants.