Hiring a Virtual Assistant: 10 Important Things to Consider

By |2018-09-28T03:27:30+00:00August 14th, 2018|Talent Management, Virtual Support|0 Comments

Hiring a Virtual Assistant and finding the right person for the job is a serious undertaking and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are 10 things you need to consider when looking to hire a Virtual Assistant.

#1 Know the goal of the role

Before making any hiring decisions, ask yourself: What will this role do for my business?

Your answer must be clear. You are not only setting yourself up for failure but you are also setting up your new employee or assistant for confusion, stress and potential termination.

Some examples of goal roles may be:

  • To save you direct time (ie like a personal assistant)
  • To increase leads
  • To create an execute a marketing strategy to grow the business by 100% in 12 months
  • To increase sales by x%
  • To complete the bank reconciliation every month and for X dollars
  • To build my Instagram following by X% every month
  • Create a top-of-funnel marketing strategy
  • Drive bottom-of-funnel lead growth by X% each month

#2 Define the role and job description

Knowing the goal of the role helps you become a lot more focused on who you need to hire. If your goal is to drive your marketing funnel, then you may need a content marketing manager or a Paid Media Manager. That will depend upon your specific goals of course, and you may need to do some more investigative work to really nail down the precise role.

#3 Define what success looks like with clear metrics

How you will you know if the person you have just hired is successful in their role? How will they know?

There are some simple hacks for creating metrics for your new employee or cloud employee. Now it does depend upon the role, but let’s take a lead generation role such as a Paid Media Manager. If they are the only person in your organisation, then goal setting is quite easy.

  • Work backwards from your end of year revenue goal, for example, to grow from $50,000 per month to $100,000 per month, giving you a goal growth rate of $50,000.
  • Use retrospective data to calculate how many leads you need to achieve during the 12 month period in order to achieve that goal. You may need data such as sales closing rates and client attrition in order to arrive at a really precise answer for this one.
  • Break the goal down into monthly escalating targets with an average of leads divided by months.
    • For example: Your goal is 300 leads over the next 12 months, that is an average of 25 per month.
    • Assume that your Paid Media Manager will learn and improve as they go, so you may look at a curve like this:
      • Month 1, 10 leads per month
      • Month 2, 15 leads per month
      • Month 3-5 20 leads per month
      • Month 6-8, 25 leads per month
      • Month 9-12, 31.25 leads per month

#4 Determine the work volume of the role

The answer to this question is a little tricky and can be grey. Only seasoned managers or experts in the field in which they are hiring are really going to know precise answers.

Some factors to consider:

  • Is this role already being done? If yes, look at how that role is playing out
  • What budget do you have in mind? Work backwards from an industry benchmark hourly rate to see how many hours you can afford
  • Speed at which you are seeking to achieve your goals. The faster, the more work will be required

Check out our infographic below to get an idea about how long we here at My Cloud assume some common tasks will take.

#5 Develop how-to references and guidelines

How-to-guides really are the secret sauce of growing and scaling a business rapidly and with the least amount of stress. Every hour spent on developing these guides is potentially hundreds of hours saved down the line.

There are some great tools for producing these guides:

  • Confluence: For Process manuals in the cloud
  • Gliffy: Flowchart builder that sits inside confluence
  • Snagit: For screen-recording. Great for recording videos of desktop processes
  • Vimeo: For video storage. Vimeo links embed nicely into Confluence pages for easy click-and-play
  • TeamWorkPM: For creating task lists of your processes. For example, you may have a 10-step bank reconciliation process that must be done in a specific order.

#6 Write a brief bio of your business

Knowledge transfer and emotional buy-in are critical in terms of engaging your employees while also providing context as to why they are doing what they are doing. Put together a 50 to 100-word paragraph for each of the following:

  • Your vision and mission
  • Your values
  • What you sell and who you sell it to, and for how much (ie your market positioning)
  • What makes you different from your competitors
  • What a great example of an awesome employee of yours walks and talks like.

#7 Set a training program/regime

Setting some structure around knowledge transfer and training will take a lot of pressure off you in the first 1 to 2 weeks of your new employees time with you.

This can be as simple as bullet points like the below:

  • Day 1: Intro and about us, and job description walk-through
  • Day 2: Walk-through the first job description line item (process)
  • Day 3: Hand over process #1
  • Day 4: Walk-through process #2
  • Day 5: Circle back, check quality and understanding of process $1 and #2

#8 Determine how you will manage your VA

The how is all about the structure of management:

  • How often will you meet with them
  • How often will you check work?
  • What reports do you they need to give you? How often?
  • When will you conduct performance reviews?
  • How often you will you seek feedback about you as a manager?

Once you have done this (and this could be a 15 minute exercise), stick to it and you will find yourself on cruise control as a manager rather than being inconsistent and fire-fighting.

#9 Determine if you will hire directly or through a virtual staffing provider

You have 3 options here:

  1. Place an ad on a job board and conduct all hiring and screening processes yourself
  2. Appoint a recruiter to source someone for you
  3. Engage a virtual staffing provider and lease a cloud employee

Some factors to consider:

  • What location is the best value for this role?
  • What is the volume of the role (how many hours per week?)
  • What happens if they leave suddenly? Will you have to scurry to hire a new employee or will your service provider replace them for you

Many roles these days are very part-time, especially in the areas of digital marketing and bookkeeping. However, 90% of candidates in these still require full-time work, so in these instances, cloud staffing agencies can be an excellent option, as they generally hire their team members full-time and then share their team members part-time amongst several clients.

#10 Develop your top 5 interview questions

Interviewing candidates is a skill that can take years to develop. Removing emotion and natural biases from decision-making is also a critical skill.

When crafting your interview questions, consider:

  • The nature of the role
  • The seniority of the role
  • The volume of candidates (you may need to be brief)
  • Your experience as an interviewer

Some great questions too, from the team at The Muse:

  • What one skill makes you the most qualified for this position?
  • To date, what professional achievement are you most proud of?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge?
  • How would you describe your own working style?
  • What three words would you use to describe your ideal work environment?
  • What one skill would you like to improve and what’s your plan for doing so?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?

In Summary

It is critical to first know why you are hiring. Once this foundation is established, determine the role, what success looks like, and how much of the role you need. You can then move onto process creation, training, and then ongoing management structure, then you are all set to hire!

Alternatively, you can start with steps 1 to 4, then roll out the others as the role evolves. Just keep in mind, the more prepared you are, the smoother the role will play out and the more effective your new star employee will be.

About the Author:

Founder of My Cloud Crew and multiple virtual staffing and business process outsourcing firms, Tim Reading is an industry veteran and expert in human capital deployment, process creation, and automation.

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