What to look for when hiring a VA

 In today’s ever-changing and ultra-techy business world, I am sure by now you have tossed around the idea of outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant. Who hasn’t, right? Having more time to focus on your core business, saving tons of money, and having one “super-employee” with a skill set of many sounds so lovely… but where do you begin? Leveraging resources and utilizing the services of a VA is a learned skill and if you rush into it without considering many factors you may be disappointed with your results.

We’ve compiled three key factors you should consider when looking to hire a VA:

Make sure they have a contingency plan – Let’s face it, emergencies happen every day. So, what if your Virtual Assistant gets in a car accident, has a sick child to tend to, has to go out of town unexpectedly? You need to make sure they have a contingency plan in place so that they are not the sole protector of your important project. Will you be able to pick up the pieces mid-project if need be? Do they have someone else working for them who can take over? Do they have processes in place and lines of communication open for in case of emergencies? These are vital questions to ask yourself when looking to hire a VA because you want to be sure that your project is going to run smoothly and on schedule, no matter what emergency may happen “behind the scenes”.  

If you were to Google “Virtual Assistant Contingency Plan” you will find that most of them refer to themselves AS THE CONTINGENCY PLAN for you and your business needs… Which is obviously true. But what about them? Do THEY have a contingency plan? And I don’t mean just a simple plan for protecting against data loss (EVERYONE should have that). Do some searching on their website to see if they have any guarantees about this, or any FAQ section that touches on this question, if not, talk to them on the phone or email them and ask them. You need to know!

Evaluate their English abilities (or whatever native language you are hiring them for) – You want to make sure they have the ability to understand your instructions and ask good questions. You should evaluate their WRITTEN English skills. You need to do this even when you hire ONLY USA-BASED VAs! We all know that just because someone speaks English as their native language does not mean they automatically have competent written English skills.  

You might think to ask them for writing samples or an example of their work. We do not recommend this. A Virtual Assistant can easily send you something that has been heavily edited, or even a sample written by someone else. There are a few other ways to evaluate their English skills:

Email back and forth a few times asking 2-3 basic questions. This will be a good indication of how well they will be able to understand your instructions, and their responses are a good indicator of how well you will be able to understand their questions. The best approach is to email 3-5 VAs at the same time to speed up the process.

Another thing you can do is send the prospective VA voice files. Give them a set of instructions on a voice file that you dictated, ask them to type your instructions back to you in outline format. This way you can make sure they understand you, and at the same time you will be able to gauge their writing abilities by their response.

During email exchanges you can be certain that you’re catching a true glimpse of their English abilities. It works like a charm to narrow down your choices.

Decide which fits you best: Solo or Team – There are solo Virtual Assistants out there, but many VAs work in teams, whether under the umbrella of a single company or firm, or in a loose affiliation. Solo VAs tend to be slightly cheaper than teams or larger firms, but that seems to be the only “plus” to a soloist. With a larger VA firm, you will have more reliability, higher security and will easily be able to find a replacement when you need one (the contingency plan). Another great benefit to using a Virtual Assistant Firm rather than a solo VA is that you get access to a larger talent pool. You get “more bang for your buck”. One VA can conceivably have quite a few talents/skills, but there is a limit somewhere. With a firm you will have a wide variety of skill sets from administrative tasks, personal assistant type tasks, all the way up the line to eCommerce, Search Engine Optimization, graphic design, sales/marketing, copyrighting, etc. So as you can see it would greatly benefit you to go with a “team approach” because you will typically have a primary VA who will act as your “project manager” and will oversee, train and communicate with the others working on your project, saving you time so you don’t have to delegate tasks multiple times to several different people. You delegate to one person what your goal or objective is and they will get it done!

So make sure you consider all angles before deciding to “take the plunge” into the great, cutting edge, exciting, time-saving talent pool of outsourcing!

A 1 Administrative Support, LLC
Melbourne, FL
Twitter: @virtualgurus

About A1AdminSupport.com
We provide a wide range of back-office operations, administrative support and virtual assistant services from secretarial, typing and clerical tasks, to social media marketing, SEO, PPC campaigns, translation/interpretation, mobile notary services, transcription, bookkeeping, graphic design, résumé writing, career coaching and more. If you can think of something to delegate – we can do it. We serve businesses and individuals worldwide, helping them to MODERNIZE, ORGANIZE, SIMPLFY©.

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