5 Things to Consider Before You Hire a Virtual Assistant:
With the trend of work-at-home businesses growing, and the recent attention given to the CEO of Yahoo Marissa Meyer’s decision to stop all virtual privileges, there’s a lot of confusion on whether to work with someone virtually in the current economy and if so, how.
Most virtual assistants come from a secretary or freelance worker experience. They’ve worked in a corporate environment already and know what’s expected of them but here’s what you need to know to really vet whether someone is going to be the right fit for you:
1. Professionalism. Does the VA answer her or his emails, voicemails and other correspondence in a timely and professional manner? It is important if this person is to work for you has the right skills to not keep you or a deadline waiting. Make sure when you give a task you ask for an anticipated deadline.
2. Project Management. As much as you’d like to be, you won’t be their only client. They’ll need to manage many clients and many projects at one time. Be sure to ask them what general turnaround time is, and how they manage their projects. Some VAs will use their own software or system to set priorities and keep in touch with you, while others will expect you to already have systems in place. Think about how you like to interact, and be sure to set those terms in the beginning of the relationship.
3. Availability. Books like The 4 Hour Work Week paint a utopian picture of what it’s like to work with someone virtually. In truth, working with someone in your own time zone is best. If they are local, that’s even better. If they are not, you need to consider the nature of the work you’ll be involved in and how critical it is for you to have access to that person at a moment’s notice. I worked with a VA once who’s daytime was my nighttime. That didn’t really work for me. It works for some, but not all.
4. Test their skills. Because I’ve hired people locally and virtually I make sure to give a mini project before going full speed ahead with a contract or larger project. I also give a minimum of 2 tasks that cost either little money, or few hours, to complete. I hire two people to the task and see which one does it best. This helps me evaluate my expectations, the nature of the work, and how the person interacts with me. It’s a small price to pay to get the right person on the team.
5. Get References or Feedback. When hiring someone who is not located in your region or country it can be hard to check references with integrity. In this case I rely on the online feedback scores of reputable systems like ODesk and Guru.com. With local, national references I check online profiles and call the people they list as clients and referrals. That’s not always fun, but it helps you get a clear picture of who you’re working with.
Virtual assistants can save you money and time while becoming a valuable part of your team. The process for evaluating them is not less than that of evaluating someone who would word in your office so be sure you take your time selecting the right person, and don’t be discouraged if you miss the mark the first few times. Hang in there, and eventually you’ll have a team that supports your growth as strongly as an in-person assistant would.
Have you ever hired someone virtually? Was it a hit or a miss? Leave a comment below