Whether you’re ready to hire a VA (like yesterday) or are intending to hire one in the near future, this post will help you to prepare well. It’s also going to save you from hiring someone who is not really a good fit for you and your needs.
A few weeks ago a girlfriend posted asking for advice about hiring her first VA, and then a former client of mine asked me about the hiring process, and I knew it was time to write this so that more women could benefit from it.
So, if you need to hire help in growing your business and body of work, and you want to do it well the first time around, let’s dive right in:
1. Don’t Hire a Shadow VA (I Repeat: DON’T Hire a Shadow VA).
Have you ever heard of the term ‘shadow artist’ by artist and author Julia Cameron? If not, here’s the skinny: a shadow artist is an artist in hiding — an artist that hangs around other artists but doesn’t make her own art. In some ways, she denies her gifts (and what she really wants for herself), while she unconsciously fills a void by hanging around others that are doing the work she wants to do.
Look, there are virtual assistants who do NOT want to be virtual assistants, floating around everywhere in the online space. VA work is a means to an end for them. Like, they don’t actually want to take tasks and to-do’s off your plate, they’d rather be in your shoes. Usually it goes something like this: someone who wants to be running her own visionary or mission-based business says, “let me work for someone who is doing what I want to do so I can learn from them while I grow.”
And while the desire to work for someone who is doing what you want to do might seem innocent and even intelligent, in my honest opinion, it quickly becomes a conflict of interest.
Here’s the thing: as someone who LOVES to pass off the not so exciting tasks and to-do’s to someone else, I can tell you that the energy exchange between you and the VA is everything. You DO NOT want to feel like you’re burdening someone with the tasks you’re assigning to them. NO. You want to feel excited to give them the tasks, and you want to feel that they receive them with arms wide open.
I know, I know, it IS strange (to me at least) that some people actually want to handle things like customer service, scheduling emails, setting up automations, handling client care, sending agreements, setting up opt-in pages, tracking data etc. etc. but trust me, those people DO exist and they are a total joy to work with, because you feel GREAT giving them those tasks.
What I want to help you avoid here is a) holding back the tasks and to-do’s you most need help with because you feel the person on the receiving end of said tasks is annoyed or not excited by them and b) getting into a short term work scenario in which the VA soon decides that she needs to up-level and step into her vision.
While you will want to cheer her on (rightfully so) you’ve just spent your precious energy and time training her, and now you’ll need to start over with someone new.
My fool-proof method for vetting out the shadow VAs? Ask each VA you interview a series of questions that helps you to see their big vision for themselves and their life. If their genius zone and vision for themselves doesn’t involve working on a team for you, or for someone like you, they’re not the right person for the job. Next!
The second mistake to avoid when hiring a VA is…
2. Not Knowing What You Need (Very Specifically) Before Hiring.
Make a list of exactly what you’ll be delegating, before you start looking for someone.
What are the programs and apps you need this person to be proficient in? What tasks will you be sending to them? What are you MOST excited about taking off your plate? Keep a piece of paper near your computer or work space, and every time you catch yourself doing something you don’t really feel is the BEST use of your time, write it down. You can go back later and categorize some of these tasks or ‘energy leaks’.
Think of this as you getting clear with the Universe. You’re like, “Hey God, hey Universe, I need a supportive person to help me with my mission.” If you’re not clear on what the person will need to help you with, you’re not going to know how to choose the best fit for you, when you start the hiring process (even though you’re highly intuitive, clarity on this is still so vital).
This leads right into the third mistake to avoid…
3. Hiring Without Assigning a Test Project
It’s not only vital that you know what tasks and to-do’s this person can take off your plate. It’s also vital that you get to know who they are. Their energy and their vibe matters. You’re going to be working closely with this person, you know? You want it to be an uplifting and supportive match. This is why I recommend having a ‘trial period’ through a test project. After the project, if you’re happy with the way it went, you can officially bring them on board. The test project will help you determine things like:
Can they communicate openly, clearly, and effectively?
Are they late to meetings?
Do they make excuses, or do they own their shortcomings and mistakes?
Are they happy?
Do they have a problem solving mindset? Do they gossip?
Do they take pride in their work?
Are they so bogged down by 100 clients that they bring stress into your business and creative space?
You won’t know the answers to these questions until you get started on a project together. Make an agreement to start with a test project (you of course pay them for this) and at the end of the project you can determine if you want to bring them on board, fully.
Which leads me to ONE more mistake I want you to avoid…
4. Hiring Someone Who Doesn’t Take The Initiative
You’re already busy. You have enough on your plate. The last thing you need is someone asking you step by step instructions on how to do something that they can easily google or find the answer for in a forum somewhere. Hire someone who can receive a task, and figure that sh*t out for you, without you needing to be super involved.
If you loved this and found it helpful, leave me an emoji in the comments below.
And, if you’ve started the process of hiring a VA leave me a ‘1’ in the comments, and if you’re ready to get started (especially after reading this) leave me a ‘2’.