If you’re like most small business owners (or business owners in general), you may be feeling a little overwhelmed lately.
You’re juggling too many tasks, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done—especially if you’re the only person running your business. It can be all too time-consuming.
If you want to take a tiny step back from your own business and delegate tasks to someone else…
That’s where hiring a virtual assistant can come in handy!
Virtual assistance is a popular solution for business owners who need help with tasks but don’t necessarily want or need to hire an in-house employee.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about how to hire a virtual assistant for your online business and how to help you achieve your business goals, and what you need to keep in mind during the hiring process.
Getting started with hiring a virtual assistant
You want to know how to hire a virtual assistant for your online business, without spending a ton of time… only to end up with a wrong fit.
The first thing you need to do is get clear on why you want virtual assistant services, and what tasks a virtual assistant might be performing.
Maybe you want someone who can do simple daily tasks, or maybe you want someone who can do all the tasks that you can’t (it can be helpful to look at outsourcing tasks).
Maybe you want an administrative assistant, someone to offer support services, or a lead generation expert. Or, maybe you’ll need to hire someone on a freelance basis to complete specific tasks.
This will help you figure out if you should be looking to hire someone closer to home, or abroad.
It will also help you better understand if you really need a virtual assistant/someone with virtual assistant skills, or if what you’re looking for might be:
- a web developer
- a video editor
- a copywriter
- an automation expert
- an ads or SEO expert
- or something else entirely
The first step before you start posting on any virtual assistant sites is to make a list of tasks and projects this ideal hire will be responsible for.
If you don’t know where to start, make a list of all the work that you currently do.
Then circle the things that you can see yourself delegating or having others take over. Note that this isn’t a fixed list as you may have new tasks that pop up over time.
Now that you have a list, it’s time to get real.
As a founder, you might wear a lot of hats and be able to do a lot of different things in your business…
But when you’re hiring, it helps to keep in mind that people tend to have areas of strength and experience…
So you can’t expect to find someone who can do the job of several people. At least not well.
Keep in mind that virtual assistants are people too…
And just like any other type of employee, many virtual assistants will have their own specialized skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
So try to narrow down the types of tasks, so they are at least related and more realistic to find in one person. Specialized virtual assistants will be more expensive, but they will also likely provide better quality work and will be a valuable asset to your team.
For example, don’t expect someone to be a copywriter, video editor, and website designer all at once. While there are virtual assistants out there that can handle a wide variety of tasks (e.g., a general virtual assistant), you might be better off finding someone who is proficient in one or two areas that can help you with your specific needs.
It’s just too much, and you’ll be disappointed with anyone you try to hire.
Instead, focus on the specific skills this virtual assistant should have and the specific tasks they’ll be working on.
Some task examples might be:
- customer service
- social media management
- data entry and file sharing
- appointment scheduling and calendar management
- project management
- making phone calls or fielding phone calls
- lead generation
- blog writing
- graphic design, content creation, or other creative services
- virtual bookkeeping
- administrative duties or administrative services
Having a specialized virtual assistant will help you avoid the “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to start your search!
Put together your job listing
Whether you end up posting on job boards on not, it helps to write down exactly what the job expectations are for this role. Clear expectations are important for any virtual assistant job, but even more so because they’ll be working remotely.
For example, you might mention the type of experience you’re looking for but also list the tech tools or systems that your business runs on. Maybe your team uses a specific communication tool. Write that down in the listing.
That way, if someone has experience they can let that shine through.
But don’t disqualify people if they don’t know the systems you use to run your business. It’s easy to pick up new tech tools, but as a business owner, it’s a lot harder to find someone who has the ability to think and work at the level you’re looking for.
Decide on your budget and hours
Now that you know what the role of your assistant will focus on, it’s time to look at your budget and the number of hours you think this work will take on a regular basis.
Consider the different projects they might take on, your daily operations, and the job description you came up with.
If the work consists of adding emails to your email marketing platform on a weekly basis, posting social media quotes, and light website edits…. you might just need someone part-time.
If you realize that you have a lot of work that tends to move quickly, hiring a full-time employee might be better.
Now look at how much you can set aside to hire. Your target hourly rate or salary will help you decide if you want to hire someone in your own country, or if you want to find someone that might be able to work for a lower hourly rate overseas.
To get an idea of what you should budget, you can post your job on a couple of different virtual assistant job boards and see what the going hourly rate is for the type of work you’re looking for.
The benefit of this type of assistant is that you aren’t limited to local talent—virtual assistants work remotely and no travel arrangements have to be made. You get to save time on both sides.
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Job postings, interviews, and making an offer
It’s time to post your job. If you want to hire locally, then you might post the listing on your website and share the link on your social media profiles in the hope that someone in your orbit might be a good fit.
But you may also want to post on different job sites and specifically virtual assistant websites, or even work with virtual assistant vetting services.
These are always changing, so I’ll list a few of the well-known ones below:
- indeed.com (not virtual assistant specific but has a lot of good talent)
- zirtual.com (this one is more U.S.-based)
You could also post in Facebook virtual assistant groups. There are a lot of job boards and websites out there, but the ones listed are good places to start your search for a virtual assistant.
My biggest tip for this part of the hiring process is that you want to be selling the candidates on why working for you is going to be amazing.
Think about what you might be able to offer, like more learning opportunities, better pay, or connections to help them as they outgrow this position… which could be to promote them within your company, too.
Once you’ve posted your job listing, you’ll want to go through the applicants and see which ones look the most promising.
If you’re having a hard time deciding, it might be worth creating a small paid project that a few of the candidates can deliver for you.
Try to match this to the work the virtual assistant will be doing with you long-term. For example, you may want to test their ability to create content if they’re helping you with marketing.
See how the communication is, whether they ask good questions, and what the outcome is of their task.
Remember, tech tools can always be learned, but it’s more about the attitude and how someone interacts with you.
Take note of their work ethic—it can be indicative of how they’ll work with you and treat your business.
Also, you’ll likely be doing video interviews when hiring your virtual assistant. This is a great time to test out the internet connection they have, as well as their webcam and microphone to make sure the audio and video quality will be good enough for regular meetings.
Finally, when you’re happy with the person you’d like to work with – you can decide if you want to have a longer vetting period.
For example, you might want to work with this assistant for 2 months on a contract basis before offering a full-time position.
The nitty gritty of hiring
No matter which option you choose to pursue, you will need to figure out the status of your virtual assistant.
For example, if you hire someone in the US then you need to do your research to know whether this virtual assistant is considered an employee (with all of the associated things that go with that)…
Or if they are a contractor that also works with other clients, for example.
Independent contractors come with a whole other set of rules, so you definitely want to make sure that you understand the difference before making your decision.
Some people decide to hire a virtual assistant agency or service to get around some of these regulatory issues.
That way, the assistant works for another business but is “hired out” to you and your company.
Onboarding your virtual assistant
After hiring a virtual assistant, the way you onboard them is extremely important.
You will want to get them to excel at one specific thing before piling on more work.
They should be proficient in one type of task or project before you bring them into the next job or other aspects of your business.
For example, your virtual assistant can start with doing web research that you use to write content. Then as time goes on, they can start to draft content that you review, and over time write content entirely on their own.
Another instance where this is especially important if this virtual assistant is going to be taking over some of your social media platforms or creating blog content. You want to give them a chance to understand your voice, style, and messaging before moving on.
Or, if they are doing technical work, have them start with just one tech system. Say they need to maintain your WordPress website and make updates. Once they’ve learned the ropes, you can have them learn about your email marketing software.
This type of onboarding can help you save time in the long run and is key to making sure your virtual assistant learns quickly and is able to help take more off your plate.
Make sure to document your processes and training along the way. If you ever need to bring a second virtual assistant on board, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel!
Hiring a virtual assistant can directly contribute to your business growth by taking some things off your plate and giving you more time to focus on the big picture.
Whether it’s someone who does content creation on a freelance basis for you, offers virtual administration, or carries out other general or specific tasks, small businesses can greatly benefit from virtual assistance. You might even notice that having someone answer emails helps a lot.
There are lots of other benefits if you want to hire a virtual assistant. You can conduct a video interview from the comfort of wherever you are, no travel arrangements need to be made, and you can hire people from anywhere in the world.
Most virtual assistants are flexible with their hours and are often able to work around your schedule. You can also give them as much or as little work as you want or need, which is perfect for businesses that are just starting out and might not have a lot of extra work to give.
By being thoughtful about the process—from start to finish—you can find a virtual assistant that’s not only a great fit for your business, but also someone who will help contribute to its success long-term.
Do you have any virtual assistant hiring tips? Share them in the comments below!