I've been looking for an assistant for years.
I've hired many contractors through elance, odesk, (both now upwork) fiverr, and other places. But what I found is that I had to go through this process to find the right VA at the right time.
My attitude about what I wanted from an assistant had to undergo a transformation. I'd given up for a while. I thought I'd have to spend mega bucks to have a chance at finding someone that might be able to help me out.
I've had some great VA's, don't get me wrong. They were all unaffordable on a long term basis. I have a budget. Sometimes I struggle with that budget. There are times when I work, just to pay my team. But the work I did to earn their wage was worth every hour.
I've looked so long that I think that I found my VA, Faith, from trial and error. Somehow, the powers that be let me swim through a sea of tuna to find my dolphin. Or rather, wade through insincere, part-timers that just wanted to test this VA thing out.
Faith is phenomenal, not because she knows everything, but because she's part of the team. I mean really invested. She works an average of three hours a day Monday - Friday.
So how did I find her?
I'd like to think I found Faith by the questions I asked, but in the end it was just a feeling I had about her profile, the roll of the dice and a bit of luck.
It took a while to judge cover letters and see who could walk the talk and who just wanted to see if this was for them. When I put out the call for a VA on upwork, I got a ton of answers. It was overwhelming. I had to slog through eighty-something resumes. I worked through them for three weeks. I got the initial ones down to fifteen, then three.
This process of going back and forth with people really helped drop off the curious. I would go back and forth, seeing how soon the applicants replied if at all.
Then it was down to Faith or Tom. Tom had an awesome resume. Tom was from a country that had sexy accents. Yay Tom. But as I spoke with him he seemed less and less responsive.
Faith had an enthusiastic resume. What I mean by that is she was new to upwork, but her words radiated excitement and dedication. I've gone with excitement and dedication--and found excitement fades. When excitement fades dedication drops off. Then my expectations don't get met.
Now here's the funny thing. Expectations and communication together are vital when choosing a VA. When I asked if Faith is interested doing something for me she always says yes. This can-do attitude is wonderful, but also can make someone's expectations exceed what the VA can do.
I've given tasks to Faith and realized this is not something within her forte. That is not a bad thing. VA's are like spies. You can not have the James Bond of VA's. They don't exist.
You can have social media managers, an accountant and a designer--but not in one person. Let me rephrase that...not in one affordable person.
Pepper Potts makes what...ten million a year? Ten billion? I can't even count that many numbers let alone pay someone a salary like that. So I go with strengths. There are certain things I've learned not to give to a VA (aka their weaknesses). That's just as important as knowing what to give them.
I can't give you the exact questions I asked Faith when hiring her, but I can tell you instead of crossing off a list of "what to ask" I had a conversation with her. Faith was the ONLY one, who conversed. Everyone else just tried to get me to hire them.
Out of all the professionals, all the people telling me they have 30 years experience of being a VA, all the people that gave me one line answers, the only one that made the cut was the person I talked to, found out her goals, found out about her motivation, found out her experiences not from a resume but from asking her.
So if you're looking for a list I'd tell you to look up most common questions for dating and ask them. Because having a VA is a relationship between two people. They can't read your mind if they don't know you. They can't make suggestions if they don't know you. They can't help you unless you just want very simple things done--which is fine, I have recommendations for "order takers" that do great with yes/no procedures.
But if you want a thinking mind behind the screen on the other end of the internet, it's very hard to find. I now have Faith in two ways. I have the VA and the belief that my tasks are well in hand because of her. I couldn't ask for a better assistant. But I have to say that there was a bit of luck finding her.
I could have gone with Tom. But I have a feeling I would have been disappointed. My only expectation was that I could have someone that wanted to learn about what I did. What I found was my expectations might have been too much, but I wanted to try and find that person anyway. Luck would have it that I did. But it also showed me my expectations needed to be flexible too.
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