Virtual Personal Assistant: How to Chose the Right VA

coldcallingscriptsWould you like to be more productive? Hiring a virtual personal assistant is one of the best ways to increase your personal productivity, spend less time on repetitive and time-consuming tasks, and get more out of life.

In this blog, you’ll discover four techniques that you can use to choose the best virtual personal assistant for you. From data entry to personal scheduling, read on to learn how to find the perfect virtual assistant for outsourcing your life.

Have you never hired a virtual assistant before? Learn the basics of outsourcing by enrolling in our course, Use Outsourcing to be More Productive & Profitable. From planning to selecting your VA, this in-depth course covers every aspect of personal outsourcing.

Qualify your virtual assistants using short, simple tasks

virtual personal assistantHiring a virtual assistant can be tough. When you post a job on outsourcing websites like oDesk or Elance, you’ll often be flooded with applications from people that have clearly ignored most of your instructions.

Avoid dealing with applications from inattentive VAs by requesting some quick and simple tasks in your job listing. Ask your applicants to include a specific phrase, for example, in their proposal to see how well they pay attention to details.

Another good way to weed out time-wasters and inattentive virtual assistants is by requesting references from previous employers. Most outsourcing websites make this easy by including a list of ratings and reviews from previous customers.

While these techniques won’t completely eliminate low quality applicants, they will make it far easier for you to weed out bad proposals from quality ones. Learn more hiring tips with our outsourcing course, How to Hire Your First Virtual Assistant.

Choose three to five VAs for a quick and simple test project

Business People Working In a Conference RoomNot every standout applicant delivers stellar service once they’ve got the job. With a quick one to two hour test job, you can see which of your VA applicants delivers the best combination of results and customer service,

Select three to five VAs from your pool of applicants (if you’re using Elance or oDesk, you should have at least 20 proposals from virtual assistants) and issue a one to two hour job. Ask them to track their work using a time tracking application or Elance’s Work View tool.

This way, you’ll be able to determine which VA applicant is the most productive and efficient. You might discover a serious difference in the amount of time it takes your applicants to complete tasks; one might take an hour to finish a task another can do in less than 20 minutes.

This type of practical testing is a great way to determine which VA is most suitable for your job, as proposals don’t always tell the whole story. If you’re hiring for a big job, use multiple test jobs to assess your applicants in several different categories.

Are you hiring a virtual assistant for your company? Discover a four-step process for hiring only the highest quality applicants for your business with our Startup’s Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant.

Hiring full-time? Negotiate a monthly salary

virtual personal assistantMost virtual personal assistants, particularly those on freelance marketplaces like Elance and oDesk, will bill hourly. If you’re hiring a full-time VA for an ongoing job, it’s generally more cost effective to negotiate a monthly salary instead.

This means you’ll have fixed monthly costs to deal with, and won’t be surprised by an expensive hourly timesheet at the end of the month. VA salaries range from less than $300 per month to $4,000 or more for qualified, specialized virtual assistants.

Most virtual assistants will be happy to reduce their hourly rate in exchange for the security of a salaried, ongoing position. At the same time, it’s best not to negotiate a salary that’s too low, as a low monthly rate can reduce productivity and morale.

Settle on a salary that offers the best of both worlds: fixed monthly expenses for you, and a reliable source of income for your VA. Remember that great virtual assistants are in high demand, and it may be worth paying above the market rate for a virtual assistant that’s focused, efficient, and easy to work with.

Not sure how much to pay your virtual assistant? Join almost 600 other students to learn the fundamentals of working with a virtual personal assistant with our course, How to Find, Hire, and Work with Virtual Assistants.

Give clear, detailed, and actionable instructions

how to write a synopsisOnce you’ve found a good virtual assistant and negotiated a fair monthly salary, it’s time to start working together. When you’re just getting started, your VA may need slightly more micromanagement than you’re used to giving as an employer.

In general, it’s best to start with specific, actionable instructions and start giving less specialized instructions as your VA understands your needs. For example, searching for accommodation and booking the right hotel could be broken down as follows:

  1. Search for five-star hotels in San Francisco available from the 9th of June until the 12th of June.
  2. Select a hotel located close to Market Street and under 500 meters from public transportation.
  3. Book the hotel using my credit card information and forward the reservation to me after you’ve made the booking.
  4. Log the expense in a Google spreadsheet so that I can check it at the end of the month.

The more detailed your instructions are, the better the results you’ll get from your virtual personal assistant. Remember that VAs might not have completed your task before, and having a point-by-point guide makes your requirements clearer.

After a while, managing your virtual assistant will become second nature and their work will become more efficient as they get used to your needs. Focus on details in the first few months and your VA will understand your needs for years to come.

Do you want to learn more about managing your virtual assistants? Enroll in our Managing and Influencing Virtual Teams course to learn the secrets to managing your online staff and getting tasks completed ahead of schedule.

Learn more about hiring virtual personal assistants

From lowering your monthly expenses to increasing efficiency, hiring a VA offers a wide range of benefits. Learn more about outsourcing and hiring virtual assistants for your business with our blog post on the pros and cons of outsourcing.