How-To: Hiring a Virtual Assistant

How-To: Hiring a Virtual Assistant

I recently needed to hire another virtual assistant to primarily do small research tasks, clean up data, and execute on processes developed at Impact Hub. I'll list the steps I took to hire that person in this series of posts.

Step 1: Figure out what you need (and get specific!).

For this specific position, my current VA needed to pull back on her hours, so I needed to hire someone else to take on the majority of projects that she was no longer able to do. In that sense, figuring out what I needed was fairly simple - I already had a list of projects that I needed help on from previous project delegation reflection. Before I wrote up the job description, I reviewed that list of projects, reviewed my 'on-deck' project list, and then any upcoming big goals that I was working towards. From those three lists, I compiled a list of projects that I'd ideally like this new VA to help with. To specify the job description that I was going to create, I sorted the list of projects into three main categories:

  • Small research projects that would take 2-3 hours per project to complete;

  • Database and email list clean-up;

  • Sending out emails from my email account.

Step 2: Writing and posting the job description. 

I use Odesk for the majority of my outsourcing, but especially when hiring VAs. I have an account with Odesk, and for those of you who are new to any hiring platform, I would strongly recommend filling out your employer profile. The job description has three core components that are most important to me:

  • The title.

  • The description.

  • The application process (and example project).

You can see my full VA job description posted here. In more detail, the three components of creating a useful job description:

  • The title: Be as specific as possible. This will not only help you sort through the candidates (it helps you specify who you're looking for!), but it also helps the right candidates find your description when searching.

  • The description: My job descriptions for outsourcers have five parts - the one sentence general description, general examples of specific aspects of the job, requirements of the job, a short 'About my company' section, and an equally short 'About me' section. The 'About me' section is usually where I specify the amount of time I'm wanting to work with this person.

  • The application process: My application system has three parts - their resume (depending on the areas of experience that I want to see, I specifically call those out to detail in the resume), a one-paragraph CV with the question - 'Why do you want to work with me?' (I won't read anything longer), and lastly, a small example task they should include in the body of the CV. This last part is the most important in the application process for two reasons: 1) It will help you weed out canned applications and not quality applications because the majority of respondents likely won't answer this question, and 2) You'll likely base your decision on the quality of this response, so it's super useful to help you narrow down to the final 2-3 candidates. Also, I always make sure this project is something that I actually need at the moment, so I can actually use the results of this example project!

That's the basic outline of the outsourcing job description process that I use.

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