5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect VA

In today’s over-scheduled world, if you don’t have the skills to do it yourself and you don’t have time to learn how to do it yourself, then it comes down to two choices. You can either eliminate the task or outsource to someone with the skills and time. Enter the Virtual Assistant.

Now that you’ve decided you need to outsource, how do you find the right person to handle your needs? While searching for the perfect VA may be time-consuming because of the sheer number of options, hiring the right one is fairly easy. In fact, hiring a virtual assistant should be no different from hiring someone who physically sits in the next desk right beside you. Below are 5 common sense tips which can help this type of business relationship be successful.

  1. Write down the skills you need performed. This may be the most obvious but people who need to outsource often have so many things they need done that it’s overwhelming. Making a checklist keeps things organized and helps narrow down the type of candidates you’re looking for.
  2. The Search. Many people automatically look online for virtual assistants. It’s how we’ve become accustomed to searching for everything – doctors, realtors, gardeners – you name it. However, don’t discount the personal referral to someone you may already know or someone who already uses a VA. As the old saying goes, “The best option might be right under your nose.”
  3. One size does not fit all. Just because a person may be excellent at organizing your emails and keeping your general business affairs in order, doesn’t mean they are equipped to do your social networking for you or update your website or even write press releases. In a perfect world, you would find a virtual assistant who was exceptional at everything but that’s not usually the case.
  4. VA versus IPA. Remember the old days when people used have an assistant sitting outside their office? That’s what I refer to as the In-Person Assistant. When hiring a VA, you should look for the same qualities and work ethics as you would if hiring an IPA. Just because a VA may work in another part of the world, most likely from their home and sometimes in their pajamas, doesn’t mean you should settle for anything less than quality work from them.
  5. It’s a match. Finding the perfect assistant is very similar to finding the perfect mate. Ask lots of questions. Get to know them as much as possible BEFORE you hire them so you don’t have to go through this process often, which will take time away from your business. With so many people, especially moms, working from home businesses, it is important to find out what their life is like. I’m a mom myself and although our son is a teenager now and more self-sufficient, let’s face it; there are only so many hours in a day. If a mom is a VA and has little ones in the house, you may have to be flexible on your demands. If you have a business where that’s not possible, then it would benefit both of you to keep looking. This is just one example but you can see why it is so important to find the right match.

Whether you hire one person that can handle all of your needs or you have to hire multiple people for various responsibilities, the best VA is one that knows you almost as well as you know yourself. They can anticipate how you would respond in most situations. In many ways, they are an extension of you. To have the perfect VA situation, you need to be on the same wavelength. Otherwise, it’s no different from going to a temp agency and getting someone new every day. If you have ever worked in an office and experienced even the best temp assistant, it is still a lot of effort to have them there because they don’t know you.

Finding that exceptional VA is only the first step. Regardless of how good someone is, if you as the boss, do not follow-up occasionally to see that everything is being done correctly and on time, it will eventually catch up with you and it probably won’t be pretty. Simple things like not getting emails forwarded to you or having to re-do work yourself or having things left unfinished won’t cut it.

Above all, the perfect VA or even IPA is responsible and trustworthy. A good one can make you shine but a bad one could ruin your business completely.

Nancy O’Neill is the Common Sense Consultant. Combining her education and experience, she offers a common sense approach on a variety of topics for entrepreneurs of all ages, authors, speakers, parents, and kids. Life or business does not have to be complicated but many times, people make it that way. Nancy believes the most effective way to help people is by giving them the tools to think for themselves. Through practical, common sense education and coaching, a person can gain the knowledge to become confident in their own abilities and not rely on someone else to spoon-feed them information.

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