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August 18, 2022

The Best Way to Hire a Virtual Assistant and Actually Win Back Your Time

Hiring
A virtual genie assistant floating out of a computer

When you’re in charge of a thriving business, you wear many hats: visionary, decision-maker, and recruiter, to name a few. But being the Chief Everything Officer doesn’t mean you have to spend all your time working. ⏰

That’s where a virtual assistant, or VA, comes in. An ace VA helps to immediately lighten your workload by supporting — or even completely taking on — some of the core processes necessary to run your business, leaving you with more time to focus on growing it.

Ask anyone who’s done it, and they’ll tell you hiring the right virtual assistant can be a pivotal moment. But finding a VA you can trust with the future of your business means that you as the employer have to set the bar high — starting with an awesome hiring process.

In this complete guide to hiring a VA, we’ll help you set the right tone with VA candidates, find the perfect VA for you and get back to the tasks that belong in your own job description.

All about hiring a virtual assistant:

  • What is a virtual assistant?
  • 3 telltale signs it’s time to hire a VA
  • What are the real pros and cons of hiring a virtual assistant?
  • Where can you find the perfect virtual assistant?
  • What should a solid virtual assistant hiring process look like?

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First things first: What is a virtual assistant?

When most people hear the term “virtual assistant,” they probably think of helpful AIs like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa. And while you may use them to write out a grocery list or text your partner on the way home from work, virtual assistants in the business world can do so much more

A VA is a remote assistant contracted to lighten your workload. They can work from anywhere and handle a variety of tasks, from admin to social media, graphic design, sales support and more. They’re basically superheroes for hire! 🦸

A VA offers ongoing help with day-to-day operations, easing your biggest business bottlenecks and making your job a whole lot less stressful. Whether they’re helping you research web content or managing aspects of your online store, a virtual assistant can help you win back your time.

When you’re growing, you need all the free resources you can get. Check out our Small Business Recruiting Toolkit including all the free guides, templates and hiring scripts you need to find talented people you can grow with!

The VA talent tool is broader and deeper than you might think

If you’re feeling a little jittery over what might be your first hire ever, know that you’re not alone.

VAs make a great first hire for rapidly-growing small to midsize businesses, especially those that function in a remote setup as they typically put less strain on your budget than a full-time employee — giving you the support you need while saving you time and money in the process. 

For these reasons, VAs often help fill the gap between outsourcing and on-the-ground hiring. Businesses get a highly talented extra pair of hands, without the permanence of an employee. However, a VA isn’t always a freelancer. 

Today, there are many VA companies and agencies specializing in finding top talent for all types of industries and skill sets.

Consider that the healthcare VA market alone is estimated to be worth a cool $5.31 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’) by 2028. Part of the boom in the VA talent market was fueled by the mass shift to remote work during the pandemic and the realization among many employees that the ability to work-from-home was their top requirement in an open role.

Today, you can find everyone from working parents, former execs, part-time retirees and overseas experts who literally keep your business running while you sleep — all bringing their unique skills to the talent market as VA job candidates.

So while VAs are commonly known for performing general tasks and routine processes, today there is a VA with specific training in almost any type of job function or industry you could want. 

But how do you know when it’s time to dive in and find the right one for you?

3 telltale signs it’s time to hire a VA

Let’s be honest. We could all use a helping hand every now and then. 

But how do you know when it’s really time to bite the bullet and start a focused, well-orchestrated search for a virtual assistant?

Here are some of the key signs to look for.

1. Each day feels like a grind

When it comes to running a successful business, you already know it pays to spend less of your time in the business and more of your time on it. But what does that mean, exactly?

While it’s totally normal to dive into the weeds every now and again on a Saturday morning, you shouldn’t be spending all your time in the trenches. 

If you find yourself spending more than half of your time on day-to-day operations or administrative tasks, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. Outsourcing your lower impact tasks to a VA can help you redirect your focus to strategizing, driving revenue and other high-value tasks.

2. Limited capacity is holding you back

There are only so many minutes in a day. If you’ve maxed out to the point that you can’t take on any more business, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. 

Simply map out what tasks you can offload and let a VA work their magic. ✨ 

You’ll probably find yourself with a heck of a lot more time to focus on getting your work done right rather than just getting it done. Know your limits, and strive for quality over quantity with the help of a VA.

3. Your operations could use a makeover

As a business owner, you’ve heard the sermon about how successful scaling is all about creating the right checklists and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Sadly, developing and maintaining these processes is easier said than done. But with a VA, you don’t have to fly solo! ✈️

To effectively glow up your operations, take your dusty, half-written SOPs and make a plan for which ones you’ll attack first. From there, simply delegate the updates to a super smart VA and watch the efficiencies roll in. 

Not sure where to start?

We recommend going with the low-hanging-fruit processes first, knocking out those lighter refreshes, then mapping out your heavier lift processes with specific deadlines for key milestones. From there, you can set regular 90-day reviews with a trusted partner (your amazing new VA!) who knows your processes inside and out.

What are the real pros and cons of hiring a virtual assistant?

If you’re still here, you know you need a VA. But letting go is easier said than done. 

Delegating is difficult, but we’re here to help keep you motivated (and firmly in your business leader lane) with the real pros and cons of hiring a VA.

The pros of hiring a VA:

  • Heightened productivity 🧠 Raise your hand if you don’t want to maximize output? That’s what we thought. Productivity is essential for any successful business, and a VA can help you optimize your system-based processes and free up more of your time to focus on growing your business. Just think: How much more could you accomplish with just two extra hours in a day?
  • Supercharged efficiency ⚡️ Hiring a virtual assistant is a surefire way to win back your time and make your business more efficient in the process. Grow your business while your VA manages company socials and routine administrative tasks, delivering the most impact in the fastest time possible. 
  • Scalability 🌱 A VA offers all the assistance of a full-time employee, yet their role is totally scalable. You can contract a VA to work for a specific length of time or on a per-project basis, helping you stay adaptable. If you like their work, great! Give them more to do. If not, you can find someone else to fill the role in a snap. All without inflating your overhead expenses.
  • Flexibility 🤸‍♂️ Have you always wanted to offer around-the-clock customer service without the night-work price tag? Look no further than a virtual assistant. You can hire a VA from anywhere in the world, even in a totally different time zone. This can help you flesh out your 24-hour online operations even after you’ve hit the hay. 💤

The cons of hiring a VA:

While virtual assistants can make your life a whole lot easier, it’s not all sunshine and roses. 

There’re a few downsides you need to consider before making a hiring decision, like…

  • Potential for communication breakdown 📞📵 Onboarding can be tough without in-person meetings, especially if there are language barriers or time zone discrepancies. Keep these things in mind when looking for a VA. Additionally, tech issues and miscommunication can be difficult to resolve remotely. However, as long as your VA is experienced and flexible, rest assured you’ll be able to work through it together. Just be sure to define your expectations and learn their working style from the get-go.
  • Extra supervision 👀 While many VAs can hit the ground running right off the bat, rookie VAs sometimes need extra supervision. Newer VAs often require more management in order to understand and meet your expectations. So you may be playing helicopter parent (or boss 🚁) for while, but with a little time and patience, a good VA will get the hang of it!
  • Fear of letting go 😰 Delegating work can be scary, especially if you’re used to (micro)managing every aspect of your day-to-day operations. And while you know letting go will be a good thing in the long run, it’s tricky to put so much faith in a virtual assistant. That’s why building trust and cheering on your VA is so important, encouraging them to do the work to the best of their ability.  And if you’re still worried about letting go, hire a VA with stellar references and loads of experience. This will give you extra peace of mind, and you can rest easy knowing they can get the job done. ✅
  • The price tag 💰 A good virtual assistant can cost up to $60 an hour. While that may seem like a hefty price to pay, remember that you don’t necessarily need to engage them full-time. If they can check off everything on your to-do list in a few hours, $60 an hour may not seem so pricey.

Next up: Where can you find the perfect virtual assistant?

Alright, alright. Clearly, you need a VA, like… yesterday

Look no further than these job sites and marketplaces:

Belay - Belay might be the best marketplace for highly-qualified VAs, only hiring assistants with college degrees and loads of experience.

Magic - VAs on this site charge per minute rather than per hour, making it the perfect place for quick fixes and stopgaps.

Virtual Staff Finder - If you’re looking for an ultra-personalized site that prioritizes best fit, check out Virtual Staff Finder! VSF uses a questionnaire to determine your needs and match you to a VA who can get the job done right.

Upwork - One of the biggest names in freelancing sites, Upwork can connect you to a VA with specialized expertise.

Time etc - In addition to experienced VAs, this site also offers a money-back guarantee and the option to roll over excess hours. Pretty nifty, right?

MyTasker - MyTasker sweetens the VA deal with a generous free trial and adjustable pricing, making it easy to test-run a VA before committing. Win-win! 🏆

What should a solid virtual assistant hiring process look like?

So you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant and win back your time. First off, congrats! 🥂

Now, how should you go about it?

Step 1: Fine-tune your VA job description

The key to a solid virtual assistant hiring process is an on-point job posting

While it seems like a no-brainer, many employers skate through the posting process without thinking about how a sub-par description might impact applicants or fit. How can you expect stellar applicants without an ah-mazing job description?

To create a job description that stands out and says what it needs to say, use on-target language when outlining your expectations. Oh, and don’t forget to mention it’s a virtual position! 

Remote work comes with equipment necessities. You don’t want to have to purchase a laptop, internet access, virus protection and other digital tools for your future VA if you don’t have to.

If you need help, check out Breezy's VA job description for a sample template that actually works. From the “about” section to the point-by-point responsibilities list, the Breezy team has your back when it comes to hiring the best virtual assistant. 🤝🏼

Creating a new position with a job description template
Hiring in a hurry? Let Breezy automatically post your open role to the top free job boards in a single click! Give it a try with a free 14-day trial.

Step 2: Create your VA applicant pipeline

VAs and visual candidate pipelines have one big thing in common: they help you win back your time. 

By having a simple, visual way to track candidates as they move from application to interview, interview to test project, etc., you can see all your top VA candidates at a glance.

If you’re using Breezy to help keep track of applicants, you can even automate specific actions as candidates move from one hiring phase to the next — such as sending an email or interview scheduling link.

For example, you can use Breezy’s automated questionnaire to screen for your VA must-haves like location, time zone, experience, and more. Then, set up a simple stage action to move those who qualify seamlessly to the review or interview stage.

With the click of a button, you can also let non-qualified applicants down easy with an automated, personalized email, ensuring that you maintain a good relationship should you need them in the future.

Setting up a clear candidate management process might feel like extra work in the beginning, but it will help you set a foundation you can grow on, while cultivating a top-notch candidate experience. 💯

Pipeline stages in recruiting preferences

Step 3: Optimize your interview process

Once you’ve separated the appli-cans from the appli-can’ts, schedule a phone screening with your top candidates. Start a friendly conversation about experience and expectations to get a better read on each individual before moving on to a face-to-face video chat. 

With Breezy, candidates can self-schedule phone and video interviews, setting up those oh-so-important convos without the exhausting back-and-forth.

On the hiring side, Breezy allows you to tailor your pipeline to fit your interview style. Whether you opt for trial shifts or test projects, you can make your VA hiring process whatever you need it to be. 

Hiring team view of a video interview

And when it’s time to schedule those remote interviews, choose your favorite video chat software (or our quality built-in video option 😉) and get the ball rolling immediately. 

While it may seem like a lot of moving parts, we’re here to streamline your VA hiring process.  

With Breezy, the days of frantic interview note-taking are over. Simply record your interviews and jot down ideas with Breezy’s in-interview candidate dashboard. No hassle, no problem!

Onboard your new virtual hero

Now that you know how to win back your time with a top-notch virtual assistant, it’s time to take that leap of faith. Time is a precious resource. And here at Breezy, we say you should spend it thoughtfully and outsource the rest. ⏳

While we can't tell you which VA will help take your business to new heights, Breezy can help you post your open VA position to all the top job boards in a single click, create customized screening questionnaires to get the right VAs into your pipeline and set automated emails to help you keep in touch with candidates at every stage of the process.

Whether it’s posting a pitch-perfect job description to top job boards or scheduling VA interviews with the click of a button, Breezy helps you hire the perfect virtual assistant without the hassle. 

Check it out for yourself with a free 14-day trial!