5 Steps to Hiring Your First Virtual Assistant

Dia Darling

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If you have paying clients who love what you have to offer, an exhaustive list of tasks to complete each day, and the desire to have someone support you in your business – then it’s probably time to hire your first Virtual Assistant. Congrats!

While growing a team is exciting it can also be scary. Lots of things come up when you’re trusting someone else to help run your business. This is totally normal. 

While all of your hesitations won’t go away overnight, I will provide some steps you can take right now to set yourself up for a less chaotic hiring and onboarding process. 

Below I’m sharing 5 steps to hiring your first VA or any new team member for that matter! This is the step by step process that I personally use in my own business and share with my clients.

Review Your Current Tasks

Before you even write the job description for your new VA you want to take an honest look at what you have going on in your business and look at all of your current tasks. By breaking down all the tasks you’re doing you’ll be able to clearly decide what can be delegated. Taking the time to write down everything you do may seem tedious but it will be totally worth it. 

My favorite way to do this is digital time tracking. Do you use a time tracker like Toggl for client work? Give this a try for one week: each time you do an internal task, record what you’re doing and track how long it takes you. This will not only give you a look at everything you’re doing but it will provide a base for how many support hours you will need to fill. 

Added benefit: You may recognize outdated or time-intensive ways of doing things that you can ditch or uplevel! Cheers to improvement!

Get super clear on what the VA’s responsibilities are

Once you’ve reviewed what you do on a regular basis you want to decide what you need to continue managing and what you can get off your plate. I’ve had the pleasure of watching many business owners work with virtual assistants and the first thing that can make the relationship go sideways is lack of clarity. 

You want your new team member to start with tasks to do and your expectations for them understood. 

While your application and interview process will cover a lot you want to start the official work relationship with even more clarity.

Make sure you and your new VA have agreed and are clear on:

  • Preferred method of communication.
  • Business hours, yours and theirs.
  • Recurring tasks and their due dates.
  • Processes for completing tasks.
  • Check-in and meeting expectations. 
  • And anything else you feel is important on their first day.

Once you are clear on the things you want your VA to be responsible for, you can begin a search with more of a focus. Does your VA need to be savvy on social media? Is it important for your VA to be familiar with certain CRMs or website platforms? Having this list of responsibilities will help you write your job post and ask your trusted biz friends for their best referrals.  

Savvy delegation secret: When deciding if you want to keep doing something or have you VA manage it ask yourself, What is the cost? If you charge clients $55 an hour and your virtual assistant’s rate is $25 an hour an internal task that takes you an hour is costing you the $55 you could make by doing client work instead. Even with subtracting the fee your VA will charge that’s still $30 profit and now more has been accomplished for your business and your client. 

Start an SOP Vault

I’ll admit that I’m an organization nerd. I get giddy when a new client tells me they already have SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) created and when everything has its place. I know that is not the norm for everyone so let me persuade you to the “dark side.” You know those beach entrepreneurs? The ones with the laptops in their laps and their feet in the sand living their #BestLife? Yeah, that’s not what I’m promising SOPs will do for you but I am promising that when your team has clear steps to the tasks they are supposed to do you can enjoy some Netflix, get a massage or make a yummy meal without worrying they are going to burn down your business. 

If you’ve already completed the first and second steps of this list then you have step 1 of your SOPs done. Heck Yeah!

Once you have the list of tasks create a digital folder to hold your SOPs that both you and your new virtual assistant can access. You can either create video screen shares as you complete things (Loom is great for this) or you can type up a traditional SOP detailing each step of the process to complete a task. Nothing is too small a detail in an SOP. It’s important to remember that the small details you put into things automatically may not be automatic to your VA when they join your team so write it all down.

On your VA’s first day you can have them review the SOPs for recurring tasks and ask what questions they have prior to jumping in. This way they get clarity and have even more understanding of the way your business operates.

The added benefit of SOPs is if the relationship doesn’t work out or you desire to hire an additional team member down the line their training is already done and can be easily edited as platforms or protocols change.

Decide Your Hiring Process and Deadlines 

Hiring your first VA may seem clear cut but it can quickly turn into more stress if you aren’t properly prepared. That is why it’s crucial to have a hiring process and timeline. 

Questions you should be able to answer before putting out fillers:

  • How many hours do you want to hire for? Time tracking your tasks earlier and deciding what you want them to take over will help you decide on this. 
  • What is your budget? Give yourself a budget for how much you would be willing to pay for support that won’t negatively affect your personal income. Run the numbers based on the hours of support you’re anticipating and the rate you’d like to offer.
  • Will you have an application? I 100% recommend having an application instead of jumping right on calls so you can save yourself time. 
  • What will the deadline be to submit applications? It’s a good practice to have a date you’d like to close your application so you can host all the interviews during the same week and not have last-minute applicants making you unsure about your choices. If you don’t have an applicant that feels like the right fit you can always extend the date.
  • How long do you want the interviews to be?  This is totally up to you. Depending on the complexity of the responsibilities, your own schedule and the questions you want to ask. Interviews typically range between 15 minutes and 1 hour. 
  • Will you ask for a test assignment? Test assignments are typically reserved for specialist positions like copywriters or designers but if you are curious about their abilities this is an option.
  • How soon would you like them to start? This is a date you should have wiggle room on but it’s good to have an idea the week you’d like to bring them on the team for planning purposes.
  • How long would you want the agreement to be? How far in advance do you want to commit to working together?
  • What platforms do they need to have? Review your task list for them and notate any platforms they will be using for your business to add to the job post later.
  • What level of experience are you okay with? Often you will pay more for someone with experience than if you hire someone who is new to the field. But keep in mind a more experienced person may be able to complete tasks faster or with less training. 
  • Are you looking for a general virtual assistant or one who specializes in a specific field? Not all virtual assistants offer the same services, review your task list to decide what specifications you’re looking for. 
  • Do you want them to be located in a certain country or available to work in a specific time-zone? If you want your admin to do behind the scenes work, it may not be important to you the time zone they work in. However, if you want them to be available to be on calls or assist during live digital events it’s important to be clear about that.

Trust Your Gut But Don’t Move Too Quickly

One mistake many business owners make is jumping the gun too quickly with hiring. It can be very easy to be wowed by someone for 15 minutes and decide they are the right fit. The truth is you want to have more of a connection before jumping in.

It’s often a good practice to hire on a temporary basis. Start with a 30-day contract with the option to renew depending on how it goes. No one will be 100% after a week so be patient before ending your agreement. It’s also important to take ownership for where you could improve as the client. Yes, you are your VA’s client, you aren’t their boss. Remember that, find kinship in that. Be the type of client you want to have. 

Alternatively, if you have strong feelings someone isn’t the right fit for you, or something really rubs you the wrong way in the interview process, it’s okay to do more research, to ask for referrals or a second interview, or even decide to pass on working with them. 

Now you’re prepared to find your dream virtual assistant. Hiring any new team member is a process and it has to be a good fit for everyone involved. The right team member is out there for you and going through the steps above will make finding them a lot smoother.

Dia Darling – Productivity, Project Management

Dia Darling is the founder of All The Things I Do. She supports her clients as a project manager and CEO coach. She is also the host of Creatives Crushing Anxiety. She helps entrepreneurs follow their passions online while keeping their lives balanced. She believes you can have a successful online business while still enjoying your life.

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