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Hiring Your Virtual Assistant: The 5 Most Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

May blogs

Employing a virtual assistant is a big decision; and the first time can be daunting. Done right however, it can turn out to be one of your best decisions – something that can radically improve your life.

The conventional way of hiring people, then managing and delegating tasks to them is not easy. Imagine doing exactly that, but with someone literally thousands of miles away, with nothing but technology to keep you in touch.

This article sheds light into five very common mistakes people make when hiring virtual assistants and will give you tips on how to avoid them. It will not make a pro out of you instantly, but it will hopefully make you a smarter first-timer.

Mistake Number One: Skipping the Prep Work

The steps you make before you actually hire a VA is a huge success factor. It will involve thoroughness with no immediate result in sight. But you’ll thank yourself for it in the future.

First, you need to document your daily and weekly activities then sort them according to what can be delegated or not. Second, create detailed instructions on how to perform them. Assume you’re writing it for someone completely new to the task. Lastly, create the perfect job description. Clearly explain your requirements and who the ideal candidate is. This document:

  • sets expectations
  • shows a bit of who you are to your applicants
  • sets up both you and your future hire for success

Check out this post on oDesk for more ideas on how to nail that perfect job description. Laying down the groundwork to hiring your virtual assistant is akin to the prep work for a house-painting job. Initially meticulous, but a job well-done cannot be without it.

Mistake Number Two: Instantly Going for the Lowest Bidder

Compared to hiring someone in-house or full-time, employing a virtual assistant can be your optimal choice. The low cost is indeed very attractive. It is easily tempting to count all the savings you get and immediately go for the applicant whom you will pay the least amount of money.

However, take it with more than a grain of salt. A low bid may be cost-efficient upfront but that could also be a red flag to the quality of work you will be getting. It is true that a higher price does not necessarily guarantee better quality. However, going for the cheapest option without getting more information about the applicant often sets you up for disappointment and in the end, higher costs. Take into account the cost but never make it your prime consideration over the qualifications of the candidate.

Mistake Number Three: Expecting a Plug-and-Play Solution

Working with a virtual assistant for the first time is not like getting a new hire in a conventional office setting. Expecting your VA to instantly adapt to the work as soon as they’re “plugged” in, is another recipe for disappointment. Just like with a regular employee, it takes time to successfully train a virtual member of the team with the processes or systems that may be unique to your business. All employees, virtual or not, need time to ramp up before they reach full productivity. Be willing to give an adjustment window.

Mistake Number Four: One-Stop Shopping

Just like any professional, virtual assistants have areas of specialization. Do not aim to find someone who juggles web development, SEO content writing, bookkeeping, graphic design, appointment-scheduling, and customer service on the side. While that sounds like the ideal VA come to life, that would be an incredibly rare find. You can be lucky and find a jack-of-all trades but take into consideration how effective are they going to be if they need to juggle their skills and spread their attention over multiple roles. In the end, that might be counter-productive and just diminish the quality of work they do for you. Hire your VA for what he or she does best. You will both be happier that way.

Mistake Number Five: Micromanaging

Aside from saving money, saving time is the other most-cited reason for hiring a virtual assistant. So it is surprising that many first-timers just end up undoing their time gains by micromanaging their virtual assistants. Oftentimes, this stems from the completely understandable apprehension of working with someone far away. After all, how do you know if he or she is really working?

To combat this, consider requiring daily progress reports and asking for a set of deliverables within a specific time period or deadline. This would help you resist the urge to constantly look over the shoulders of your virtual team.

Keep in mind that the easiest way to tell, if your virtual assistant is working, is to simply keep an eye on the results.


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