How to Hire a Virtual Assistant for Your Startup
hiring a virtual assistant

So you’ve already figured out that you need to hire a virtual assistant, thats great! Now you need to look for the perfect one. Hiring the right assistant can actually get tricky if you’re not sure what qualities to look for. Furthermore, someone might look decent and responsible, only to find out that they are not what they seemed at first. Then the person who was supposed to help you handle obligations better, ends up giving you more problems than you had to begin with. What do you need to do to make sure you choose the right virtual assistant?

1. Ask around

You can turn to your friends or business associates for help. Ask them if they know either an assistant or someone who can help you hire one. Chances are, at least one of them will redirect you to the right place.

2. Search online

There are numerous websites, the most well-known being Freelancer and Elance, where you can find what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that US-based assistants charge around 15$ per hour, while those from abroad have even 3 to 4 times lower hourly rates.

3. Write down your activities

Keep track of everything you do each day of the week and then make a list of the things that take up a lot of your time, or that you can avoid. That way you’ll know what tasks you’ll need help with.

4. Present your list to the potential assistant

Show your future employee the list and go through it together. That way you’ll see what she is capable of doing, willing to do and not willing to take on. It will give you a much better idea of whether she is the right choice for you.

5. See if one is enough

Decide if one person can be sufficient to meet all your needs. Sometimes it’s better to hire two people and split the work for more efficient results. The first one can handle, for example, your media outlets and correspondence, and the other, let’s say, research. Two assistants can be costly, so you might want to hire from abroad.

6. Time

When hiring from abroad, you have to take time difference into consideration. Maybe you need the person to do the work at a similar time to your work hours. It’s all something to think about.

7. Make a clear ad

You want your assistant to do her job well, right? That works both ways. When placing an ad, be precise. List exactly what is expected of her, the qualities you look for, work hours, salary… in my experience, less people are likely to apply if the demands are not clear, because they don’t know what is expected of them. That’s a bad first impression, right there.

8. Ask to see Portfolio & Examples

When interviewing a candidate, ask for examples of her previous work. It gives you great practical insight of what she can do.

9. Use Time Tracking / Screen sharing Tech

There are a number of tools that you can find that help you manage your assistant. For instance, there’s a tool that takes a screenshot of her computer every once in a while, so that you know what she is working on and can be sure she’s working the hours you paid her for. Search online for different tools that best fit your needs. Both Freelancer & Odesk provides their own set of tools for time tracking, screen recording when you are hiring someone on an hourly basis.

10. Contracts / NDA

Make a contract that protects your interests. If you need a confidentiality clause, add one. You should also include the minimal and maximal number of hours that your assistant has to finish her assignment. That way, you are both protected. She gets paid in case she finishes early and you don’t spend more than you planned to if she drags the work on for days.

11. Training

Once you’ve made your choice, you have to train your assistant, as well. The better you explain things in the early stages of your working relationship, the easier it will be in the future. After a while, she will come to understand the way you operate and you’ll be able to give her more freedom and responsibilities. The fact that you won’t have to constantly check on her progress will only make it easier for you, which was the whole purpose to begin with.

Finding a Virtual Assistant online can seem like a bit of a hassle at first, but if you invest the time and effort into finding the right person, it can definitely pay off in the long run. It’s a two-way street – if you want someone dedicated and meticulous, you have to approach the search for your future Virtual Assistant in the same manner.