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How To Successfully Hire A Virtual Assistant: Finding The Best Match

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

10 minute read

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Most business owners' best-kept secret for success is working with a virtual assistant, and it’s easy to see why. As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly on the hunt for innovative ways to optimize operations, maximize time, and streamline workload. And while spinning plates might be a fun circus act, it's hardly a sustainable strategy for growth in the business arena.

Every minute spent on administrative tasks, email management, or scheduling is a minute away from growth, innovation, and pushing boundaries. With a virtual assistant (VA), you have an extra pair of hands just a click away, ready to take on those time-consuming tasks that pull you away from your core business tasks.

However, you have to sift through the vast sea of virtual talent and pinpoint the one individual who aligns with your vision.

So, how do you find and pick the right candidate from the start?

Keep reading as we unravel the essential steps and considerations to successfully hire a virtual assistant, making sure you find the perfect match for your business needs.

The advantages of outsourcing vs hiring full-time

You’ve finally reached the pivotal moment where you realize that tackling everything solo isn't sustainable. While you can hire full-time employees to help your business flourish, the digital era has introduced a global pool of expertise right at your fingertips, which you can harness through outsourcing.

But is outsourcing better than hiring full-time employees? Let's explore the benefits of both options so you can be sure you're making the best decision that aligns with your growth goals.

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Hiring full-time

Hiring full-time means employing an individual on a permanent basis where they work a standard number of hours, typically around 40 hours a week in many countries, and are on the company's payroll.

Full-time employees often receive a range of benefits, such as health insurance, paid leave, retirement contributions, and more, depending on the company and location. The benefits of hiring full-time employees include:

  • Familiarity: Being employed full-time in a business lets team members become fully immersed in its inner workings, including company culture, procedures, policies, and business goals.
  • Accessibility: Having your team on-site means you can easily hold face-to-face meetings, brainstorming sessions, or quick chats to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Of course, while there are benefits to hiring full-time employees, it's essential to remember the challenges that come with it. Bringing in an in-house team means you'll face the intricacies of managing personalities, resolving conflicts, and potentially developing new skills to lead them effectively.

On the financial side, the costs can quickly add up, from providing suitable office space for your team to offering competitive salaries and benefit packages.

See: Virtual Assistant Vs. Employee: Which Is Best For Your Small Business?

Outsourcing

Outsourcing involves handing over specific tasks or responsibilities to external entities, such as agencies, contractors, or freelancers. Instead of having someone in your team solely focused on a particular role, the task is handled by a third party who can be based anywhere in the world.

When you outsource, you will reap the following benefits:

  • Cost efficiency: Virtual assistants are only paid for the time they spend working on tasks for you, as much or as little as you need. This can lead to substantial savings, as you're not locked into paying for idle time or unnecessary expenses.
  • Flexibility: Outsourcing lets you easily adapt to the changing needs of your business, so you're never overstaffed during slow periods or understaffed during peaks. It helps you maintain the right level of support to keep things running smoothly.
  • Access to specialized talent: Outsourcing allows you to cast a wider net to catch the most suitable talent from around the world. You have the opportunity to find specialized skills and expertise that may be hard to come by locally, which can be a great advantage for your business.

Outsourcing sidesteps many hurdles you'd face with hiring someone full-time—like the hefty costs and complexities of managing an in-house team—but not without its challenges, either.

Fortunately, there are exceptional virtual assistance services available in the market today that work hard to mitigate these concerns (more on this later!).

Essential steps to successfully find and hire the right virtual assistant

Before you begin your search for a virtual assistant, it's vital to have a clear understanding of what you need. This will make your search more efficient and increase the likelihood of hiring the right person for the job. Establishing the fundamentals will streamline the process and set both you and your VA up for a successful partnership.

Let's guide you through the essential steps to make sure you secure the right VA to help propel your business forward.

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Choose your first task

Start by picking out one task from your workload that eats away your time, zaps your energy, or that you simply don't enjoy. Preferably, this should be something that occurs on a daily basis. Perhaps you're drowning in administrative tasks like email management or appointment scheduling. Or maybe it's more technical tasks, like website maintenance or database management, that are consuming too much of your time?

Chances are, there will be many different tasks that fit the bill, but start with just one for now. You can always add more later!

Write a job description

Once you've chosen your first task, it's time to dig deeper into the finer details.

What skills or proficiencies are needed to complete your task? For example, will your virtual assistant need experience with certain project management software, social media platforms, or scheduling tools?

It's also worth considering the more practical aspects, such as the number of hours of support you may need, desired time zones, or any other preferences.

Understand your budget

With the wide range of independent contractors and outsourcing services available today comes a wide range of expertise and associated price points.

As a business owner, chances are one of the top reasons why you're considering virtual support options is the cost savings. But like with any investment in life, it's worth bearing in mind the balance between cost-effectiveness and quality.

Take the time to do a little market research on the current average market rates for virtual assistant services. This will give you a better understanding of what you should expect to pay for the level of skill and service you need.

Once you're clear on what you're willing or able to invest, you can start to focus on options that align with both your budget and operational needs.

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Choose a hiring platform

In today's digital age, there's no shortage of options when it comes to finding professional virtual assistants. However, it's important to understand the differences between them so you can find the right one for your business.

Take time to explore all your options before making any commitments. Here are some of the main routes that business owners use to hire a virtual assistant for their daily tasks.

Overseas outsourcing

Many business owners turn to overseas markets to leverage the support of virtual assistants while keeping costs down even further.

Countries like the Philippines, India, and Malaysia offer some of the most competitively-priced outsourcing and remote assistance services in the world, where you can expect to pay around $3-$10 per hour for administrative support.

Although the cost of offshore outsourcing is certainly appealing, it's crucial to be aware of the potential challenges associated with hiring remote workers from different countries.

Language barriers and time zone differences may make effective communication difficult. Delayed responses can slow down project progress, and misunderstandings can impact the quality of work delivered.

Another crucial aspect to consider is security. Different countries have different regulations on how personal and financial data can be handled, so be sure to do your research beforehand to protect yourself, your business, and your customers.

Online marketplaces

This particular option allows you to tap into extensive global networks of freelancers looking for short- or long-term work.

You can browse through various profiles and portfolios to select someone that resonates with your requirements. Or, similarly to the traditional hiring process, you can post a job listing that details your terms and requirements, and then wait for interested candidates to apply.

As Fiverr has over 830,000 freelancers, PeoplePerHour has around 2 million, and UpWork boasts a staggering 18 million, this means you'll never be short of choice, but finding the right person can still be tricky.

Some platforms have tighter screening processes and entry requirements than others, so while there is certainly quantity, it's harder to be sure of the quality.

Plus, such high numbers of freelancers compared to clients can create fierce competition when it comes to work opportunities. As a result, it’s common for applicants to mass-apply to multiple listings per day without reading the job description. For those in charge of sifting through all these applications, it can be an exhausting and overwhelming process.

Independent virtual assistants

Many virtual assistants offer their services independently. In this case, you're likely to find them through online job boards, local advertisements, or their own website.

Just like with any new hire, it pays to do your due diligence. Don't be afraid to ask for any reviews, testimonials, or references from previous clients to get a better sense of their abilities. Any credible virtual assistant should be more than happy to show you evidence of their experience and skills. This way, you can be confident that you're bringing the right person on board to support your business.

When working with an independent VA, you will need to come to your own arrangement regarding payment. It's a good idea to have a clear upfront discussion about rates, hours, and payment methods to help avoid any potential headaches further down the line.

Fully managed virtual assistant services

Understanding the challenges you may face when hiring a virtual assistant, premium, fully managed services are designed to cover all bases.

While the cost may be higher than other options, these services provide a comprehensive range of benefits and features to give you the ultimate peace of mind (and it's still up to 90% cheaper than hiring a full-time employee!).

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These platforms take the most time-consuming elements of the hiring process off your plate, so you'll never have to waste time trawling through stacks of irrelevant resumes or searching through endless pages of listings. They carefully vet their virtual assistant candidates to make sure they're equipped with the skills and professionalism needed to deliver top-notch support.

In addition, you can take advantage of:

  • Secure and simple payments: This saves you the time, effort, and potential risks of arranging payment for independent VAs. All you need is to set up automatic billing through the service and they will handle the rest, leaving you to focus on what matters most.
  • Flexibility to suit you: These services usually provide virtual assistance through monthly packages or subscriptions based on the amount of support you need, which can be scaled up or down as needed. Plus, if you originally hire a virtual assistant for a specific task, such as social media management, but you reach a point where you need to offload other tasks that require more technical skills, you can add additional assistants to your virtual team at no extra cost.
  • Enhanced security: Premium virtual assistant services take the issue of confidentiality very seriously and prioritize the security of your information. These services use the latest technology and encryption, as well as solid confidentiality agreements, to keep your data safe at all times.
  • Accessible support and guidance: In times of need, having a provider to speak to can be incredibly helpful. If things aren't working out with your current assistant or you just need help getting started, the service is always in your corner ready to step in and give you the solutions you need.

What’s the bottom line?

Finding and hiring the right virtual assistant is all about balancing cost, communication, and confidentiality, so it's essential to understand your needs and do your due diligence.

Quality should also be a prime consideration during your search, as you'll want to make sure you're getting the best value for your money.

If a fully managed virtual assistant service is the best option for your business, Time etc is here for you.

With over 15 years of experience in helping over 22,000 business owners reclaim valuable time, a vast talent pool of virtual professionals, and a lifetime happiness guarantee for all our users, we're committed to helping you reach your goals and unlock your full potential.

We know your time is precious, which is why you won’t need to do any of the heavy lifting. Our VAs must pass a rigorous 10-stage process to join us, and we carefully match you with a virtual assistant candidate based on the skills, experience, and even personality traits you need.

Speak to our team to get started, and we'll set you up with a reliable virtual assistant to help you take your business growth to the next level.

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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