So you’ve decided to get yourself the services of a virtual assistant. Excellent. Virtual assistants or VAs can save you a lot of time and money—as many other business owners will assure you—but to get truly great results, you need to find the right one.
This isn’t always an easy task. The VA market has boomed in recent years and searching for the right one can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. This blog post aims to help you figure out just that: how to choose the right VA.
Ready? Let's get started.
Step 1: Know What You’re Looking For
The first step has less to do with what the market has to offer, and more to do with what you need to get done. There are two ways you can look at this.
The first is to think about the specific tasks you want a VA to handle. Most VAs take care of administrative work, such as organizing schedules, managing emails and phone calls, and researching logistics (e.g. the cheapest way to buy something, the fastest way to get somewhere, and so on). On the other hand, a growing segment of the VA market also handles tasks involving more technical knowledge, like digital marketing, bookkeeping, or simple web development. If you know what you want your would-be VA to handle, that will help narrow down your search quite a bit.
Another way to approach this is to consider why you need assistance. The most common reason is that you and/or your team don’t have enough time to do all the things you need to. Related issues include:
Having simple tasks that need doing, but not so many that you need a new hire
Having a team of specialists whose time should be maximized on technical tasks that need their expertise
Needing special skills for a short- or medium-term project, but no time or resources to train someone for it
These all ultimately boil down to how you use time and related resources, but the little differences will affect how exactly you’d approach them by hiring a VA. So even if you’re not quite sure what you want a VA to do, knowing how you want them to improve your business is another viable starting point.
Step 2: Casting Your Line
There are a lot of different places where VAs and prospective employers can meet, and each of them has certain advantages and disadvantages. These places fall into four broad categories: social media, forums or message boards, digital work platforms, and VA agencies. Let’s take a quick look at each of these.
Social Media can be a great place to look, but it may involve putting in a bit more work. You can start searching by going through hashtags or groups (for platforms with this sort of function). Alternatively, if you shout into the void—post saying you’re “Looking for a #VirtualAssistant” for example—there’s a big chance someone will reach out to you on their own. A plus side of finding a VA through social media is that they’re probably savvy with the platform you found them on.
Forums and messaging boards provide dedicated online spaces for employers to look for VAs who suit their needs (and vice versa). The main benefit to searching through forums is that all the content there is, broadly speaking, relevant: you can easily browse what each VA has to offer and, in some cases, talk to other entrepreneurs to get advice. Forums can also be a refuge for unconventional VAs who aren’t well-served by more organized platforms—which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the specifics.
These more organized platforms include job portals, like Upwork and oDesk. These provide many conveniences, such as reputation trackers, productivity management tools, and streamlined payment methods. On the other hand, searching these sites means dealing with their algorithms, which may affect the candidates you find. Some VAs, including many talented ones, can be put off by the need to navigate those criteria.
Finally, there are agencies. The main benefit of dealing with agencies is that they ensure the quality of their VAs and handle the task of matching you with one who suits your requirements. In some cases, agencies divide work among their VAs: while you might only interact with a single administrative assistant, they may be able to direct more specialized tasks to others in the agency’s roster, providing you with more flexibility. The challenge is, naturally, that you have to find an agency whose quality you can trust. So instead of evaluating individual VAs, you’ll be looking at the qualifications of a group in general.
Choosing a place or platform to start your search in depends on what you’re looking for, and what sort of effort you want to put in. Forums and social media tend to take more effort but offer potentially greater variety. Job platforms offer a lot of conveniences, but present barriers to entry that drive away some potential VAs (for better or worse). Finally, agencies provide a guarantee of quality—though you’d have to ascertain the agency’s qualifications first of all.
Step 3: Implementation
The last step in choosing is actually putting your VA to work. “But wait,” you might say, “Doesn’t that mean I’ve already chosen?” Yes, in a sense, but whether you push through with your initial choice is another matter entirely. And to decide if they’re a good match, you’ll need to do some practical testing.
When you start the trial period, take stock of the results you’re expecting. For example, you can revisit your motives from step one. If you had a specific task for your VA, evaluate how well they performed it. If you had a broader goal, such as saving time, make sure you have a method for measuring it. Make sure you have clear criteria, but be a bit flexible with your targets. VAs come with a bit of a learning curve, and results usually improve over time.
If you’re satisfied with the results of your first run, then congratulations—running your business just got that much easier! And if not, then you have a better idea of what to expect going forward. Furthermore, if the first try didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, you could always switch up the places you search or how you screen your candidates.
If you’re looking for a VA agency that can handle a wide range of skills, we would love to hear from you. Our VAs are rigorously screened for skills and work ethic, and we work as a team so that your assigned VA is given the proper resources to provide the best solutions for you.
Visit topva.co to learn more.