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hat floating in air representing virtual assistant

An important factor in getting organized is identifying activities that are being neglected or consuming too much of your time and then delegating them to someone else. Once that is finished, I can focus on the parts of my work I enjoy most because I hand over tasks that I dread to a virtual assistant (VA). If you’ve never worked with a VA, you might be wondering how to go about it. Here are some things to think about when hiring a virtual assistant.

Before You Start Looking for a VA

Before you even start looking for a virtual assistant, make a list of everything you do during your working hours. Identify which tasks you find challenging or don’t enjoy doing. What will have the biggest impact on your productivity and stress level if you delegate those tasks?

Once you have some ideas in mind, you can begin looking for a VA who performs the services you need. Many VAs specialize in a particular area such as blogging, bookkeeping, email marketing, customer service, or appointment scheduling. You might even find one who specializes in your particular industry.

Where to Look Looking for a VA

If you don’t know any virtual assistants, you can ask your colleagues for recommendations, do an online search for the type of assistance you’re looking for, or submit a request for proposal (RFP) to an association such as the Global Alliance of Virtual Assistants.

Once you’ve identified one or more possibilities, talk to them to determine whether you’re a good match. If they’re in your area, you might get together over a coffee. But since VAs can assist you from anywhere in the world, the consultation will likely be by phone or by video conference.

Questions to Ask Candidates

Many of your questions will probably relate to your specific needs. You might ask, “What experience do you have working with (a particular software program, online service, or industry)?” You may also want to ask how their past work experience and training relate to the needs of your business.

If you’re going to need a same-day turnaround, or if you need to contact your VA without scheduling something in advance, ask if they will be able to accommodate that. If you want someone to come to your office on occasion, don’t assume that they will. Ask whether they do that, and if they do, ask whether there’s an extra charge or a travel fee.

Speaking of fees, you need to ask how much they charge and how they calculate their fees.

  • Is it by the minute or in 15-minute increments?
  • Is there a minimum charge?
  • Do they require a monthly retainer?
  • Do you have to pay in advance?
  • Are there different packages available?
  • Do they charge extra for rush jobs? If so, how much is it, and what’s considered a rush?

I should caution you that the fee might be higher than you think. There are VAs in certain parts of the world that work for just a few dollars per hour. But they may not have the language skills required if you need someone to draft, edit, or proofread written material on your behalf.

In most cases, your virtual assistant will play a key role in your business, so it’s perfectly okay to ask to see work samples. You may want to ask permission to speak to some of their other clients also. When hiring a virtual assistant, it’s not a job interview. It is a consultation to see whether the two of you are a good fit. Someone might have the best qualifications in the world, but if your communication and work styles aren’t compatible, it’s going to be difficult for you to work together.

Read the other posts in this series on virtual assistants: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

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