This is one of the most common questions that I receive from people who understand that I help connect them to quality virtual assistants.
I have had the opportunity to refer out many excellent virtual assistants to other people and the truth is it really hinges on casting a wide net and then doing all of the work possible to determine whether or not the candidate is right for you. However, there are several tips that I can recommend when you are hiring your first virtual assistant or even expanding your team.
Of course, you have to find a system that works for you. Recognize that my tips and tools below may not necessarily align with what you hope to accomplish but it can be very beneficial to explore all of these options and see who is out there for you. Remember that the first step of any outsourcing project should be to identify the actual tasks that you need to be done by taking a look at what you don't like doing, what you're not good at doing and what can be outsourced to someone less expensive than you.
All of these steps can help you clarify the type of virtual assistant you need to hire and may even provide some direction and the type of tool that you intend to use. These are my top places to identify virtual assistants.
Of all of the methods of hiring a new virtual assistant, personal referral comes at the top. This is because you will always get an honest recommendation when asking a friend or a colleague. They are not going to arbitrarily pump up someone who isn't the real deal.
Furthermore, a positive experience with someone else increases the chances that your new virtual assistant will work out well with you as well. This is one of the leading reasons why I recommend reaching out to people who have interacted with other virtual assistants or people who train virtual assistants as they are likely to have a network of qualified candidates already prepared.
I still find Upwork to be an excellent source of virtual assistants but you're going to have to do more legwork. Whereas with the personal referral, the other individual is already going to be telling you about the benefits of this person, you will need to do your own individual research to figure out whether or not the VA has the appropriate skills.
You may need to review their resume, their profile, and have a Skype conversation with them which is recommended anyway. Two of the three virtual assistants currently on my team have come directly from Upwork and both of them were mostly beginners or new to the world of working online when I got started with them. Be willing to recognize talent and see how you can shape it by teaching somebody else or allowing them to grow alongside your business.
Make sure that you clarify any expectations in the original Upwork job posting as this can help eliminate candidates easily. I recommend giving it 3 to 5 days for people to reply to an Upwork job posting and then to begin crafting a list of top candidates that you want to talk with. There's a good chance that some people will begin to stand out much more than others in this process.
These days, you'll find a lot of virtual assistants networking in Facebook groups because this has proven to be a very profitable avenue for them.
However, with the rising number of virtual assistants participating in Facebook groups, to begin with, you'll also find a growing number of them who are attempting to market their services.
If you post, for example, in a Facebook group that you're looking for someone to help you with an email marketing campaign, you may get 10 to 12 responses immediately from people who are offering their services.
This does not necessarily mean that they would be the right fit for you. However, a Facebook group can be a great place to ask for a personal referral or to begin your research process. You should always follow up with your individualized research process by asking questions over a Skype interview where possible.
I recommend having a quick conversation with your virtual assistants or using a trial or test period in order to understand whether or not it is appropriate to work with them. This can give you a clear indication of whether or not a long-term engagement makes sense.