6 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur's contributors are their own.
Most business owners today look for a virtual assistant with a job description that goes something like this:
Get login reports;
Post on social media to improve my views;
Help notify new people with my guide.
Send email to current customers about offers;
Create round-up posts from existing content;
Write and schedule social posts on various platforms;
Social media posts (short article writing, research and post creation);
Tasks of digital administration;
WordPress theme updates;
Funnel builder; and
Email automation sequences.
Plus: a B.A. or B.S. in advertising, business, marketing or a related field and five years of experience in marketing or advertising.
This is not a made-up job description. Entrepreneurs are looking for a virtual all-round assistant that just doesn't exist – a unicorn. If you find one, can you send it to me? I would love to study this elusive specimen.
This approach is wrong. Let me tell you why First, you find a needle in a haystack. You might want to save money by hiring a single person to do it all, but you really don't. Second, you may not realize that you are expected to master five completely different skills: administration, customer service, social media management, article writing, and customer funneling.
Instead, let me share with you three recruiting tips for hiring the best virtual assistant for your business.
Related topics: Assign these 7 tasks to your virtual assistant
1. Attitude based on vertical skills
Let's start by defining lateral and vertical skills, especially when thinking about working in the digital economy. In a Medium article, Gauti Sigthorsson explains that lateral skills span subject categories, while vertical skills can be technical, procedural and discipline-specific.
When thinking about working in the digital economy, lateral skills can be the ability to prioritize tasks and sort them into a manageable order that goes from idea to execution. They are skills that can be used in different industries. In contrast, vertical skills have depth. Sigthorsson explains that "the potential for mastering a body of knowledge and skills that distinguishes the dabbler from the expert, the home cook from the professional cook". Vertical is expertise in the same area.
How do you hire according to vertical skills? Let's say you are looking for someone to provide customer support. You should consider outsourcing a business process professional to become a customer service rep. Do you know why? First, most customer service representatives work during US hours to assist US customers. Second, you will find it easy to teach someone who speaks great English over the phone. All you have to do is teach that person the product knowledge. Then they could use their customer service knowledge to support a new product.
I would bet that hiring a website technician to do customer support for a product is more difficult than teaching a member of the customer support team who already knows how to deal with a customer. (If you know someone who is an exception, please send them to me.)
You should understand that any virtual assistant can be trained for any skill and has the potential to work with you in your company. By setting an example with their work, they can also set an example for other team members. They all have the ability to be leaders.
2. Consider a term of at least two years
Yes, you read that right. I'm not really interested in work experience. It's about longevity and commitment. How much time did the potential virtual assistant spend in their previous companies? At VA Staffer we have hired hundreds of virtual assistants for us and our customers. We've found that hiring people who have been with the same company for at least two years or more shows loyalty and doesn't always do job hopping.
If you see someone who has stayed with a company for six months or less, it should be a red flag. There has to be a reason for it. Either the virtual assistant failed to deliver on their value proposition or they have an engagement problem.
3. Make your interviews come alive
During the interview, test your potential virtual assistant for certain things that come up in the job. Ask them directly how they would work through different scenarios. You will find patterns of behavior that can help you decide whether a person is a jewel of an attitude.
I know I said earlier that any virtual assistant can be trained for any skill. The only thing that cannot be taught? Work ethic. Do you appear in the interview on time? How did you manage to communicate with your previous boss? How do you react to urgent lead times?
Having a strong work ethic, such as showing up to meetings on time, having a good communicator, and even taking full responsibility for a late task or under-promised value, are critical to your work culture and growth. If a recruit does not meet these standards, your interviews should work this out.
And while I'm not too big on certifications, I'd like to summarize what you should be doing instead of insisting on seeing credentials: Make great strides in your interviews.
Bonus Pro Tip: Make More Video Calls
It is very easy to disconnect from your virtual teammates, but it is critical that you keep them bonded as you would in an office setting. I use video every time I call my team to keep them connected and collaborative.
Related: 4 Uses For A Chatbot That Will Change Your Business
Remember, if you are hiring a virtual assistant or someone else to work remotely, make sure that your applicants demonstrate a minimum level of skill that applies to the role and has not proven to be a job hopper. And deepen your interviews to ensure they have what it takes to be a successful part of your team.