The demand for virtual assistants is growing now more than ever. With everyone shifting to the work from home setting, outsourcing to online freelancers has become the go-to solution. In fact, in the past 5 years, the search for the term “Virtual Assistants” has experienced an uptrend.
With thousands of professionals, it can get overwhelming to choose the best one for you. In this blog post, we’ll give you a quick walkthrough on how to hire the right virtual assistant to help scale your business to greater heights.
Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Before going through the actual hiring process, you need to determine first whether hiring a VA is actually a good choice or not. You need to weigh your pros and cons first. Here are some of the pros and cons of hiring a VA:
- You get to save on costs, especially when you outsource in a country with a lower cost of living such as India and Philippines.
- You have more time to focus on other important matters such as working ON the business rather than IN it
- You get to delegate tasks you don’t like or aren’t good at to specialists who can do the job faster
- You have to deal with cultural differences, which can be a challenge at first if you aren’t used to dealing with people from other countries
- Although you can save on costs, hiring a VA still requires you to shell out money. You want to be sure that the value added will offset the costs.
- You need to dedicate time to train and onboard your VA. You simply cannot hire a VA and let him/her be.
There are many advantages to hiring a VA, but there are also many things to consider as well. Hiring a VA will definitely require some effort from you at the get-go, but outsourcing could be one of the best decisions for your business. Once you get the hiring process right, everything else will turn out fine.
The Hiring Process
Before you start sourcing your candidates, you need to prepare everything first. You need to ask yourself things like:
- What will my VA be doing?
- How many hours per week will my VA work?
- How much is my budget?
- Should my VA have prior experience?
- Can my VA work anytime or is he/she required to work during US hours?
Define all of the details above before proceeding, because you want to be as specific as possible on your job post. That way, you attract the right candidates and they know what to expect beforehand.
Where to Find Virtual Assistants
With a vast number of job portals online, it can get overwhelming to decide where to start. Listed below are our top 5 sources for finding VAs:
- Online Filipino Freelancers FB Group
- FreeLancers in the Philippine (FLIP) FB Group
If you may have noticed, the first, fourth, and fifth options are for Filipino VAs. Here at VTA, all of our VAs are sourced from the Philippines because they speak great English and have a great work ethic. For many, English is the primary language spoken at home and at work.
Many Filipinos are trained in the call center industry and have therefore developed a Western accent. This is because employees in the call center industry have experienced working with international clients including Airbnb, J.P.Morgan Chase, Apple, etc. In fact, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Philippines is the largest employer in the Philippines and is currently generating 1.3 million direct jobs.
There are also tons of other great freelancers from other parts of the world, such as India, which you can find in Upwork and Fiverr.
Remember that you aren’t restricted to just one job platform! You can source in as many as you want. Just remember that the more platforms you source from, the more people you may have to screen.
When creating your job posting, be sure to be as specific as possible. Include all the points that we have mentioned earlier. Being specific pre-screens your candidates based on the requirements stated in your job post.
For Facebook Groups, be sure to follow the format stated which you can usually find in the Announcements section. If you do not follow the format, the admin will not approve your post.
And once you’ve published your job posting, sit back, relax, and wait for your job applications to come in.
Depending on the number of applicants and the urgency of the position, the general rule of thumb is to wait between 24-48 hours between sourcing and screening. That way, you get a good number of applicants and can screen at one time.
When screening, we recommend that you take into account the following:
- English proficiency - a VA who can speak great English is definitely a plus. This is especially relevant for voice-demanding roles such as Customer Service and Email Support. For roles like Graphic Design and Video Editing, on the other hand, English proficiency isn’t as important as their specialized skill.
- Expected rate - you need to make sure that both of your expectations are met in terms of salary. You want a VA that you can afford to pay, whether that be hourly, monthly, or per project. It’s always best to be transparent with your budget at the get-go to manage expectations.
- Experience - depending on the requirements of the job, the experience will definitely play a role. This is especially relevant for specialized roles such as Facebook Ads, Website Design, Graphic Design, etc. You can ask them to provide samples of their work or even create sample tasks for them to do (we recommend you compensate the applicants for the time it takes for them to complete your sample tasks).
- Internet speed - internet plays a very important role since that is how you communicate with your VA. In the Philippines, internet connection can be rather unstable in certain areas. Poor internet means that your VA will be unable to do the job well. You can ask them to take screenshots of their internet speed via Ookla.
- Job tenure - when asking applicants to apply with you, it’s ideal that you ask them for their resume and/or LinkedIn profile. Common red flags when looking through resumes is hopping from one job to another. If they’ve stayed with their previous companies for a long time, then that is a good indicator that they will stay with you long term as well.
- Personality - this is something that many people overlook. Yes, skills are important, but personality is what determines whether you and your VA will work well together or not. We cannot tell you what personality is best for you, because that is something you need to determine yourself. This is why assessing how you communicate with a candidate (whether through voice or written) is very crucial.
If you are hiring VAs from the Philippines and depending on the role, the educational background shouldn’t be a determining factor on whether one is qualified or not. In fact, there are tons of successful VAs who haven’t graduated from university!
What truly matters is their personality and whether you believe they can do the job or not.
Once you have chosen the candidate of choice, congratulations, you have your first VA!
When onboarding your VA, you want to make him/her feel welcome. Be sure to immediately send an email with the agreement which includes the following:
- Start date
- Schedule (fixed or flexi?)
- Benefits (leave credits, overtime pay, holidays, etc.)
- Role and responsibilities
- Payment cycle (15th and 30th? Every 2 weeks? Once a month?)
In terms of paying your VA, here are some payment options that you can consider:
- PayPal - USD to PHP exchange rate is very low, which discourages a lot of Filipino freelancers. The upside is transfers are instant.
- Wise - previously Transferwise, this has great exchange rates and fees are reasonable
- Payoneer - this is another great choice if you hire VAs from the Philippines
Do remember to also give your VAs any necessary logins so that they can start the job. For Social Media Managers, they will need logins to your social media accounts. For Customer Service Agents, they will need access to your CRMs, and so on.
Onboarding also means that you have to provide your VA with the necessary training material. It is a huge plus if you can invest in the education of your VA. That way, they can upskill and contribute more to your business.
Especially during their first few weeks, make sure that you are easily reachable as well. That way, if they have any questions or need help doing a certain task, you can respond to them timely. Most VAs from the Philippines communicate via Whatsapp and Slack.
What Are You Waiting For?
We hope that you found all the steps above useful. Although most of our tips were for hiring VAs in the Philippines, don’t let that restrict you from outsourcing in other countries as well!
Don’t have the time to go through the entire process above? Let’s talk and we’d love to help you find your next awesome VA! Contact us today!