Hiring A Virtual Employee: 10 Things To Be Aware Of When Hiring Them
Laptop lifestyle is transforming the world for the better. Be it web design, SEO or even full-service marketing, you’ll easily find your virtual employee(s) with just a few right clicks.
With the increasing need for an affordable alternative to a local full-time employee, you’ll also see exponential growth in the freelance profiles and even freelance websites.
There are some downsides to hiring virtual assistants when you have so many distractions and choices.
Every job is different and every employer is different. Maybe you don’t have the experience as a recruiter or you were misguided by all those 5-star ratings and positive reviews on your virtual employee’s portfolio.
Either be the case, when your company or business depends on the shoulders of these virtual employees, you can’t risk everything on the “trial and error” method.
For the best results, you should try your best to hire the right type of people for the job at hand in the very first go.
In this article, I am going to dive deep into the world of virtual employees and the hiring process that ensures quality team members for our business whenever we need an extra hand.
If you have ever struggled with your virtual employees or if you are still having seconds thoughts, keep on reading.
#1: Communication Skills
Whether you are hiring someone from a freelance website or if you end up hiring (WoodBows), communication skills should be one of the top qualifying requirements.
If you and your virtual employees aren’t comfortable having a smooth conversation or if you both face trouble understanding each other, it will slow down your entire outsourcing process.
Due to this linguistic barrier, future misunderstandings will cost you a lot of time.
The whole point of hiring a virtual employee is to speed things up and scale your business for a better financial future.
To avoid this situation, please make sure to hire people who have a solid grip over your first language. In this case, it’s English.
Since most virtual employees come from non-English speaking countries, you’ll have to review and screen them before hiring.
A face-to-face Skype call will give you a pretty good idea about their communication skills.
If you are wondering which questions to ask, check out this list that we actively use whenever hiring a freelancer or a contractor:
1. Introduction: A few things you’d want to know about them.
2. Share Your Ideas: let them know about the work profile and their responsibilities.
3. Ask for tips and inputs on how you can improve/execute/optimize their workflow and process.
4. See if they have any problem with their work profile. Most people will not readily agree but you’ll have to insist and ask a couple of times before crossing this question off of your list.
5. Don’t get too friendly. Keep it professional and easy going.
You can also record the conversation and share it with your partners or other decision makers of your company.
Once you are 100% satisfied with their communication skills, move on to the next step, Work Experience.
#2: Work Experience
Work experience matters a lot.
The main reason behind hiring a virtual employee is the quality and experience you get to use without paying those ridiculous salaries.
To ensure that the quality of the service is on a par with your expectation, you need to always hire people who are passionate about the industry and have the experience to work under a moderately stressful condition(sometimes, things can go south).
But, the million dollar question is- How can you tell?
You’ll know where to look and how to sort through a pile of prospects if you have been hiring people for quite some time. For everybody else, use these:
1. Avoid hiring from new freelance platforms known for its cheap offerings. Cheap virtual employees are often ticking time bombs.
2. Join niche forms where your industry leaders spend their time.
4. Advertise on niche blogs and websites.
The best option is to hire a company or a virtual assistant business instead of a single freelancer or a virtual employee.
Hiring a well-known trustworthy company like WoodBows will result in the best ROI and timely job delivery. This also cures a lot of issues addressed further in this article.
#3: Toolkits and Resources
Depending on the job type and the niche, you may want to make sure that your virtual employee is well versed with the tools, services, and software you use. In some industries such as SEO and Web Design, it is vital to have decent experience in operating online cloud-based CRM and SEO tools.
Most businesses these days use CRM and team management software like Slack or TeamWork.
Remember the face-to-face Skype call I mentioned earlier in this article? You can add “experience” to the list and ask them if they are familiar with your tools and software.
It’s not worth your time to teach your virtual employees. You will be switching people in pursuit of building the perfect virtual team. So, hire people who can start working from day one.
Hiring people who lack experience in running basic industry standard software will also slow down your workflow and you’ll find yourself caught in between dialogues, excuses, and frustration.
#4: Previous Employer
You could get a lot of data from the previous employer of your virtual employee. Most importantly, it tells you if your prospect is a good option for your business or not. A lot of points listed in this article can be linked to this section.
Ask your virtual employee to send you at least two of their most recent employers’ name/contact email. Send them inquiry emails asking for details on:
- The behavior of our virtual employee.
- The most frequent issues they’ve faced while working with your prospect.
- What’s the best part of working with <your virtual employee’s name>?
These three questions should give you an idea of the nature of the person you want to hire.
Usually, they’ll share their best employer’s details with you but that doesn’t matter. You just need a small assurance. You can always improvise and overcome in the future.
The virtual employee doesn’t have any reference? Ask them to show you some live samples of their work or projects. Some industries like Web design, development, and graphic design enables a freelancer to share his/her work online for inspiration.
If your industry is closely related to any creative or digital niche, ask your employee to also send his/her portfolio.
#5: Work Efficiency
You’ll possibly have to hire your virtual employee to see his/her work efficiency. If everything else checks out, you can ask them to start working while making it clear in the beginning that their contribution to each project and task(s) will be monitored and at the end of their evaluation period, this data will be used to determine if they are a good fit for the business.
If you find some minor issues, let them resolve the said error(s) in the future projects but if they completely fail to participate or complete their share of work, you need to put back your hiring jacket on and go head hunting once again.
By implementing all the earlier points seriously, you’ll have a solid list of awesome virtual employees. Use this list and select the ones that show the most potential.
To keep a track of all the things, we use Team Work and slack chat here at WoodBows. These cloud-based tools keep everything organized and our team can track the progress and employee efficiency right when a project is completed.
#6: Overall Behavior and Attitude
Freelancers/virtual employees with a good and optimistic attitude will encourage, and help build a healthy work environment. Nobody would like to work with an arrogant and over smart stranger who doesn’t believe in teamwork.
Sooner or later your team will fall apart because of this one employee.
When you are running a profitable business in the service niche, many clients will contact you with their issues in the hopes that you’ll be able to fix them all instantly. This can increase the stress and pressure within your team. If everybody doesn’t work like a well-oiled machine, you will end up taking a lot of financial damage.
The biggest problem here is the fact that you’ll have to wait for an intense project to figure out if your virtual employee(s) will break under the pressure or try their best to find out a solution instead.
Our screening process eliminates a lot of problems including rude employees, fraud and careless virtual employees. All of our employees are friendly and professional. We don’t rush our clients and we take our time to solve the problem and/or deliver a project.
Virtual doesn’t mean “anytime”.
Most of our projects are time-sensitive. We have to deliver within a few weeks of project approval. So, when hiring anybody, we always take a closer look at their schedule and see if they can manage to complete all their responsibilities on-time.
You don’t want to appear as a bossy unappreciative person either.
It’ll intimidate your prospects and they might not work in sync which will eventually cost you a lot of money and time. To avoid such situations, make sure that your virtual employee can participate in group chats, conference calls, and virtual team meetings.
You as their employer also need to act as a reliable leader.
How do you differentiate a punctual from a disorganized VA?
Since launching WoodBows, we have been working with a lot of virtual employees. We’ve had our fair share of experience, both good and bad. So, we can confidently advise you thing a thing or two.
Remember: Avoid keeping close tabs on your virtual employee. The objective here is to hire a good and dedicated remote employee that’ll get the job done on time. Your nature and behavior towards the VA will decide the future of your professional relationship and the type of character they’ll portray. If you are too strict, you’ll risk losing even the most dedicated virtual employee. On the other hand, if you are too frank, you’ll get stalled quite often.
If you run a business in a time-sensitive niche, try these:
1. Keep track of their progress via Team Work or Slack. As mentioned earlier, both of these cloud solutions are tailor-made for virtual offices.
2. Always make it clear before hiring if you are going to want them to be active and available in your office hours.
3. Do not overload them with too many tasks. By doing this, you’ll not only delay the whole project but most of the tasks assigned to that employee will never be completed.
4. Have a reward system when working on high-risk projects to increase the overall productivity and speed.
At WoodBows, we offer VA services 24/7 because of our widely spread local and virtual teams. This adds a whole new avenue to our services. Most of our projects are delivered in record times and more minds on a thing helps us in gathering some extra creative inputs resulting in a very high-quality end product, and a very happy client.
Most of our clients recommend us to their friends and other agencies. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of our virtual employees offer.
#8: Have a plan B. Just in case.
Not only with a virtual team, but you should also always have a Plan B when running a business. Hiring virtual employees and keeping a few talented people on your speed dial will give the much-needed peace of mind in this highly competitive world.
You don’t have to hire an extra virtual employee for this. All you have to do is have a credible freelancer in your network. If something goes wrong, you can contact the freelancer and complete the unfinished job.
If you have a couple of full-time employees, you can ignore this list but if you are 100% dependent on your virtual employees and teams, make sure to keep in touch with a few awesome freelancers. The top ones in their respective fields.
Where can you hire such freelancers from?
There are a plethora of freelance websites online today but not all of them can be trusted. Here’s a list of our personal favorites:
Just a heads up:- These services are comparatively expensive but from our experience, we’ve seen that the quality of the product or service that we’ve received from the above-listed platforms are miles ahead of anything else in the market.
#9: Hourly Rates
Hiring from freelance websites have these three hiccups:
- Hourly rates.
- Hourly rates.
- Hourly rates.
Yes, hourly rates are one of the many things you must not ignore when hiring anybody online. Usually, hiring a virtual employee solves these problems as you are going to pay them a fixed monthly salary.
8 hours a day for 30 days a month, it’s going to cost you a lot of money if you end up hiring someone who charges you by the hour.
Note: Technical VA’s charge more than $50/hour.
If you do the math,
8hour/day at $50/hour = $400/day
$400 * 22 (not including the weekends) = $8800/month.
That’s a lot of money. We provide the same service for just $1500/month. Apart from technical VA, we have included web design jobs, unlimited hours, 24/7 availability and video chats across all the packages.
Hourly rates should be avoided if you want to hire a full-time virtual employees.
Confidentiality is one more challenge you’d face when you operate a virtual team. I am not referring to corporate secrets or client details. I am talking about login credentials.
Initially, when we started out, password management solutions weren’t predominant. The only practical solution of sending passwords and even your personal banking details was to use an encrypted PDF or paste all the information in a plain text and send them via GMail as an attachment.
It’s extremely insecure and anybody can get access to your company servers or important portal by just hijacking one single mailing account.
Today, this problem can be resolved using one-time-hyperlinks that delete all the data once the receiver opens it, and the best choice is to use an encrypted password manager like Dashlane to share bank details and login credentials of your important accounts.
Alternatively, you could also use something like TeamsID.
It’s a simple-to-use cloud-based password management solution for remote teams and flexible teams located in different parts of the world.
Hiring is not a one-time job. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and doubts. Especially when hiring a full-time employee from a different part of the world, you want everything to work perfectly fine in the first try itself.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
That said, you could always take a few extra measures to ensure you land the most talented and deserving virtual employees for the task.
Pro Tip: Consider hiring a company instead of a complete stranger. Companies like WoodBows have qualified members and dedicated teams of virtual employees.
If you have any more tips, please do share them in the comment section below.
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