We’ve all heard the adage “good help is hard to find.” With more people choosing remote work, perhaps that’s as true as ever. How do you find qualified candidates when you can’t meet them in person? More to the point, how do you find a good virtual assistant? This will be someone you’re going to let into the private details of your business. It can be tricky to find them online.
There may never be a 100-percent fool proof way of doing this, but there are certain values you can look for to help you in the selection process.
You’re going to be forming a professional business relationship with this person—they won’t be a casual acquaintance. What are you both looking to get out of this connection? If you’re looking for someone who will be in it for the long haul, look for someone with administrative experience. Check their LinkedIn profile (if one exists) to get a better idea of whether long-term assignments are in that person’s wheelhouse.
During the discovery call, pay careful attention to whether your personalities are meshing. You need someone who is different enough to bring a new perspective, but not so different that they derail your systems. Look for common ground and shared laughs. The more comfortable you feel with one another, the more likely the relationship is to last.
Communication is going to make or break the relationship you’ve established. It’s important to find a virtual assistant with the right personality and qualifications, but that’s not enough to make the relationship last. You need to communicate on a regular basis.
No one can read someone else’s mind (thank goodness, how scary would that be?!). The last thing you want is an assistant who is unsure of what to do or frustrated because they can’t come to you with questions.
The best thing you can do is meet once a week and discuss the most important projects in depth. I’ve found it’s also quite helpful to have daily touch points. These can be as simple as the assistant letting you know what’s on their schedule that day, and then following up with what they accomplished.
No one wants to work with a shady character. How open and honest was the communication during the discovery call? Did the potential VA give you vague answers? If so, that’s a red flag. If they’re not being open and transparent on the initial call, you’ve no reason to expect that’s going to change. Similarly, if you aren’t honest about the number of hours you’re looking to hire for, or the kind of work you need done, the VA is not likely to do business with you. Integrity works both ways.
There are also more subtle things you can evaluate. If you require use of a certain program in your business, be clear on whether the VA knows the program, or needs to learn it. A good virtual assistant won’t know everything, but they’ll have the skills in place to learn a new program quickly if needed—and they’ll be honest about it up front.
Unfortunately, this is one of those things that tends to come to light over time. The more you collaborate with your assistant, the more clear it becomes whether they are true to their word. Granted, there are times when emergencies arise, but the person you choose to work with should be dependable.
If you’ve worked with this person for a month and you’ve seen inconsistency you don’t appreciate—bring it up! And if a conversation doesn’t resolve the issue, don’t hesitate to let that person go. Find someone who will keep their word.
But again, this is a two-way street. The assistant is also expecting transparent communication from you. If you’re constantly saying you’ll “get back to them with an answer” and never do it, don’t be surprised if the VA is the one to terminate the arrangement. The better the assistant, the less likely they are to accept a lack of communication.
This is another characteristic that will show up more over time, but there are initial clues you can look for. Does this virtual assistant have any samples of previous work on their social media accounts or website? Depending on the type of work the VA specializes in, they may not. For example, I specialize in things like project management, and I can’t exactly show examples of that from clients. What I can do is demonstrate I have a basic understanding of what’s involved in the process.
You can also check their online presence for testimonials. Reading about the experience another person had with your potential assistant can be a big indicator of what you can expect from them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those people who provided the testimonial! The more informed you are about your decision, the better.
It may seem like a lot of things to consider up front, but it’s better to have high expectations and get the type of virtual assistant you need.
The above traits reflect my own personal values, so if there is any way I can be of help to you, fill out my contact form. I’d love to talk to you!