Occasionally, you watch a film, hear a song, or in my case, read a book that changes how you see things. In my case, one book led me to the other and what I got from these 2 books became a part of my processes when I think about business, success, and finding virtual team members.
And what were those 2 books?
These were the 4 Hour Work Week and Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Chances are that you’ve heard about these books and maybe even read them before. I am aware there was some controversy around both of those books, but it doesn’t change the impact they have had on my thinking since reading them.
One of the ideas from Rich Dad, Poor Dad that stuck with me is the idea of the cashflow quadrant.
It laid out in my mind a framework to shoot for if you were building a business to secure financial freedom. Looking at the image above, I could see and prescribe why someone was stuck depending on what they are/were trying to build and then come up with a suggestion for something they can do to move past being stuck.
In this blog post, I want to teach you how to make the move from being “self-employed” to being a “business owner.” The premise is simple: hire people to work with you in your business so that things can continue to function even in your absence.
Does that sound attractive enough?
This is something that most business owners strive for. However, the implementation is anything but simple.
What I want to do with this article is to offer guidance on “how to find reliable people and how to hire them, without pulling your hair out or getting bogged down with admin.”
But now, you may be asking yourself…
WHY BOTHER HIRING WHEN I CAN DO EVERYTHING MYSELF?
Well, I’ve heard that question before, and that’s something I used to ask myself until I realized something…
As your business grows, so does the need to find more people. You can’t always be wearing different hats. Eventually, you will need to step into the shoes of the CEO instead of trying to do everything in the business. There will come a time when you will need to hire help in the form of virtual team members to keep your business running.
You will need to find trustworthy people who can “replace” you in the business.
I’m doing air quotes because as a business owner, you will never be truly replaceable in your business. What you do is you move up a level from being the person that’s doing to being the person that is managing the doing. Eventually, the goal is to move up even further and the next level becomes you managing the managers, and on it goes to the C-suite Level.
I used to believe that I could do everything myself in the business (sometimes I still do). But after trial and error, I realised the importance of team members and STRONG documented processes.
You can read all about my experiences in managing my own virtual team here.
Do take note that hiring virtual team members has been going on for over a decade, but things aren’t so simple anymore. The way we do things now is different, especially when it comes to my hiring funnel.
HOW DID PEOPLE HIRE VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS BACK THEN?
Let me walk you through the “old way” of hiring…
Picture this. You FINALLY make the decision to invest in a virtual team member to help you grow and scale your business.
You get so pumped up and quickly create a simple job post and post it in one of those popular job sites like Upwork or Fiverr.
Then the issues begin, before you have a chance to say “I’m Hiring.” You have 150 responses of people interested in the job with 136 of them being unqualified nor having read the job post. And how do you know this? You know this because if they had, they’d know they were not qualified to apply for the job in the first place!
You can’t get through the emails fast enough, and more keep coming in. At this point you start thinking “I’ll probably have to hire someone JUST to go through all these emails” between looking through emails and making sure that your business continues to run.
Most people would simply stop the process and go back to doing things the way they know how to do.
You realise that the process of hiring team members can and does get overwhelming and it eats up a lot of time. And that’s just the hiring process! You are yet to consider training this new hire, getting them integrated into the business, and accounting for the learning curve in all of that.
Then there are the consequences of hiring the wrong person. The worst case scenario is that you end up with a liability because you are carrying dead weight and you are doing the workload of two people because you thought you were hiring a superstar who turned out to be a dud.
Phew, crazy right?
Best case scenario, you end up firing the person after 7 days, which leaves you again stuck with doing the work of 2 people.
This cycle is going to go on and on and on unless you change your approach and adjust the way you are going about the task at hand.
The approach you should adopt is one that puts a system or process in place, that from the outset filters and separates the good candidates from the unqualified candidates. This means that if you CHOOSE to look through the responses, you are looking through the people who ideally you could hire with little to no stress.
The process I will be walking you through today came about because the scenario I described above was one I went through when I was trying to hire my own reliable virtual team members.
I have experienced sitting down and filtering through unqualified applicant after unqualified applicant. I have endured the job post email avalanche; I have also ended up having to do the work of 2 people because I hired the wrong person.
After a bunch of trial-and-error along with money invested, I was able to devise a process/system that not only delivered great candidates, it also removed unqualified candidates AND eliminated problems like the email avalanche.
The process was borne from my own struggles and I am sure it can be useful for you. Why do I think it’ll be useful to you? Read on to find out.
HOW CAN THIS PROCESS HELP YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS?
Through this process, you will be able to avoid the frustrations of having hundreds of potentials to look through.
You definitely don’t want the entire hiring process to take so much of your time away from the business (that you should have been focusing on in the first place), right?
Without having a system in place, all your effort could be wasted, and you might end up facing a bunch of other problems you did not have in the first place such as:
- Hiring the wrong type of team member who is too slow to deliver work, leaving no time or room for amendments
- Flaky people that start out strong and then fade into some obscure place on the internet never to be seen or heard from again aka “ghosting”
- Communication issues brought on by a gap in experience from BOTH yourself and the hire
- Inflated wage expectations without the skills to command those wages
- Language and culture barriers
I will show you how you can avoid all these problems by taking on a more methodological approach to hiring. There are also a few other mistakes that I highly recommend you avoid, which I will be covering later on.
Not only do you want to keep the process quick and effective, but you want to make sure you find the right person that fits with your idea of the role they are going to play in your business.
At this point, you are probably thinking, “Wait, I want my life to be easier! I want my recruit to do ALL the work so I can just chill!”
Hold your horses. Finding a new team member should never equate to you “chilling” on the get-go and saying “alright team member, thanks for doing all the work for me!”
I am not saying that you can’t eventually “chill” while someone does the work for you, but I am saying that in the first stages, you need to be there to guide this person.
Let me elaborate…
SHOULD YOUR NEW HIRE INSTANTLY REPLACE YOU?
Surely, If I am hiring someone, shouldn’t they be immediately replacing me and be doing the things that I don’t want to do in the business?
Well Yes AND No.
When you are hiring someone, the last thing you want to do is abdicate your responsibility. By that I mean giving them what to do and making them completely responsible for doing it without you being involved at all.
In the beginning, you want to delegate the tasks but retain the responsibility and hold them accountable, making sure that work is done to a high standard and delivered on time.
You want the transition – from having that person assist you to eventually replacing you – to be done gradually. The idea is to start the ball rolling to remove yourself from your business, so the business is running I would say 80/20 without you.
This means 80% is mostly with you and 20% is the management time that you would need to put in to check on the output of your team member.
If you really think that you can instantly pass on 100% of the business to your recruit while you lie on a beach somewhere, you are going to come back to no business. When you bring someone on to assist you, you learn about that person’s work ethics, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates and does not motivate him or her.
So, when the time comes that this person is now experienced enough to replace you, you not only know if they are going to be up to the task, but you know if that is something that they want to do because they have been with you for a little while and you have gotten to know them.
It makes no sense to hire someone to replace you if that person does not want to be in the driving seat. Therefore, the focus of this process is going to be on bringing in someone to assist in the meantime, but with the goal of having them replace you when the time is right.
Before we delve into the framework, allow me to talk a bit about how I was able to find the right person for my team once I implemented the steps into my hiring process (don’t worry, the wait is worth it).
MEET MARK, THE SAVIOR
My first success story using this framework is a dude called Mark.
Mark is a very, very funny guy. He has a sense and attitude of fun. He does not take himself too seriously. He is a self-starter and a free thinker.
But here is the catch.
Mark had never done Digital Marketing before. Yet I chose to hire him anyway because I saw that he had initiative.
He did not know what a squeeze page was when we started working together, but he put in the effort to familiarize himself with the role and responsibilities. So, for someone to take that responsibility on themselves to go and learn all that stuff just to not only make his life easier, but mine as well, was a godsend.
In fact, our connection grew so strong that I even had the chance to virtually meet his family over Skype! You learn that once you find the right person for your team, your connections go beyond work.
My framework not only allowed me to hire Mark, but I now have a whole bunch of talented team members not only backing me, but in some instances taking charge of certain projects and tasks.
I have benefitted from this process, and I know that you will too.
So, If you are ready to delegate tasks, gain some time freedom so you can work more ON the business rather than IN the business, carry on reading.
THE ROADMAP TO GET YOU STARTED
From here on, I will be walking you through the entire process of finding and hiring reliable virtual team members for your business. You will be shown how this process works and the results you can get from it. I promise you I won’t hold back.
Hopefully at the end of this blog post, you will be motivated to actually go out and give this process a try.
Let’s go over what we’ll be covering today:
- Some Common Hiring Mistakes I See People Making
- The Process
- Phase 1: Planning Your “Hiring Funnel”
- Phase 2: Execution
- Phase 3: Onboarding
- Tips to help you manage your virtual team member
I guarantee you that this process has been tried-and-tested multiple times. I have been able to build a couple of businesses through this process.
One of these businesses is a podcast management company.
I was able to find a podcast editor to edit the podcast audio, and a writer to create the show notes. I also have someone on my team who just makes sure that the podcast is loaded according to the SOPs that we have in place.
Once we get a client onboarded, my team then gets to work based on the systems and processes we have put in place. This gives me peace of mind and the freedom to work on more important aspects of the business. Such as finding more clients.
At the height of that businesses’ success, it was making approx $2,000 a month, and my involvement was minimal. This is LARGELY thanks to the team we have in place.
Want to learn more about this business venture? Read my blog on how I Accidentally Started a Podcast Management Agency…
By following this process, I hope that you too will be able to hire reliable virtual team members and achieve similar or even BETTER results for yourself.
But before we get into that, let’s focus on what you should NOT be doing when hiring virtual team members.
COMMON MISTAKES I SEE PEOPLE MAKING WHEN HIRING
By sharing these mistakes with you, I hope you will learn what NOT to do whenever you go out to the different websites or job forums to hire your first virtual team member.
Remember that having the wrong virtual team member is better than no virtual team member at all.
Here are some of the common mistakes I see people make
- Looking for “unicorns”
- Hiring contractors or freelancers
- Hire the wrong person/people
- Not accounting for the experience gap and/or skill gap
- Inflated wage expectations without the skills to command those wages
Let’s go in depth with each of these mistakes…
Mistake #1: Looking for “Unicorns”
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make.
What is a “unicorn”?
A “unicorn” is this idea in a business owner’s mind of someone who can do EVERYTHING the business owner does. They believe that when they find that person, life will be perfect. That person will be able to do everything in their business, and then they can stop doing those things.
I’ve made that mistake myself.
As long as you have the chance to delegate work, people will continue to make this mistake if they are aware that finding a unicorn isn’t the best way to go. This is because people don’t really think about the bigger picture of what they’re trying to achieve.
And even if you do find a unicorn, you simply can’t pass on everything to them while you go rest on a beach somewhere without a care in the world. Like what I said earlier, chances are you will come back to no business because everything will go haywire, or your unicorn will take your clients/customers and start their own business!
Mistake #2: Hiring Contractors or Freelancers
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with hiring contractors or freelancers.
But the problem for small business owners hiring contractors or freelancers is akin to something that my American football coach told me whenever I started playing football…
No matter how big you think you are, there’s always going to be somebody else out there who is bigger, faster and stronger than you.
I found that that is true for business as well.
There are so many different business sizes and there are many people with different experience levels. This means that no matter the success you have, there’s always going to be somebody out there who’s bigger, faster, and more agile than you.
That is relevant because I consider myself a “small fish.” So when it comes to contractors and freelancers who decide to work with me, they may start working really well and delivering things really quickly at the start.
But as time goes on, and as they realise that working with me is going to be a little bit of a slow burner, they start looking for other clients…
Clients that are bigger, faster, and more agile than me. Clients who can pay them more money for the same amount of work that they’re doing for me. Because of that, what happens is I slide down the priority list.
So stuff that usually takes them an hour or two to deliver starts taking three or four hours and sometimes a day. In the worst cases, a week or two.
Mistake #3: Hiring the Wrong Person/People
As a business owner, you have your own way of working and communicating. There will be certain people that will not abide by your way of working and communicating.
An example of this is that your business requires you to hire somebody who is both a fast mover, but also pays attention to detail. But you hire somebody who’s a fast mover, but doesn’t pay attention to detail. I bet you that relationship isn’t going to last long.
That is because as the business owner, you’re not going to have the trust required to give them a task while you go away and do something else. Your experience is telling you that this person doesn’t really pay attention to detail.
Because I’m a slight control freak, every time I give my virtual team members a task, I have to go back and almost micromanage and just look through everything they’re doing to make sure they’re doing things my way.
But thankfully, because I hired the right virtual team members, I always have peace of mind whenever I delegate.
Mistake #4: Not Accounting For The Experience and/Or Skill Gap
What people generally do when hiring someone is they look for somebody who knows how to do the thing that they’re hiring them to do. But they’re not looking at it in the context of their business and how they do things.
When I first tried to hire an audio editor for my podcast agency, I ran into issues. The way he edited was not the way that I wanted. Yes, he had the experience, but he wasn’t willing to learn how to do it the way I wanted to do it. Even though I feel like my way was better for my business.
He felt that because I was hiring him as the person to edit the audio, he could dictate to me the way it should be done.
That’s what I mean by experience gap.
The skill gap happens when you choose to hire somebody who is at the start of their journey and you do not have proper documentation or proper systems in place yet.
Because this person has this thing called unconscious competence, they don’t know what they don’t know. And if you don’t fill this gap through proper systems and documentation, then you will constantly have to give direction and put more effort to guide them into doing something right.
Mistake #5: Inflated Wage Expectations
The last mistake is more from the side of the virtual team members, which I know you guys can’t see.
In my experience, that term “virtual assistant” has been generalised too much. I see people who are not traditional virtual assistants, but rather specialists, call themselves virtual assistants and end up devaluing how the market views them.
And on the flip side, you see people that are actually virtual assistants and do virtual assistant work. Now, because everybody else calls themselves a virtual assistant, these full-fledged virtual assistants have this somewhat price war going on where they raise their fees to match specialists (who shouldn’t be calling themselves virtual assistants in the first place).
As a result, they come to the table with inflated expectations of what you are going to pay them. And in some cases, they don’t even have the skills to match the wages that they’re asking for.
They see what other people are charging in the market, copy them, without taking into account their lack of experience.
As a result, they end up getting discouraged when they don’t find anyone who wants to hire them because of their asking price.
This is why, if you’ve noticed, I use the term “virtual team members” over “virtual assistants” in all of my content.
Now that we’ve covered these mistakes, let’s talk about what the right way is to hiring virtual team members.
So when you’re ready, let’s jump right in and talk about the juicy stuff.
HOW TO HIRE YOUR VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBER
Hiring virtual team members doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. In the next few sections, I will be going over everything including our “Who First Method” to give you a clear understanding of the principles we use when it comes to finding reliable and trustworthy people to help you in your business.
Phase 1: Planning Your “Hiring Funnel”
Just like a sales funnel, this step involves setting up a process for people to go through the different steps of a hiring funnel. You want to map out their journey to help you understand you can have a smooth-flowing hiring process for you and the applicants.
Similar to digital marketing and Facebook ads, you want as many eyeballs as you can on the front end aka the job posting. And then you want the right message to speak to the right people which gets them moving through the funnel.
Here is how the hiring funnel works:
- Get as many people to see your job post/offer (front end)
- Get the right WHO to go down the funnel
- Let candidates go through Phase 1 and 2 tests
- Filter the prospects after each test
- Invite candidate for interview
- Make the job offer
- Onboard the new team member
Let’s walk through each of the steps of the funnel in detail.
WHO Do You Want To Work With?
The entire process fundamentally starts with you figuring out WHO you want to hire. And this is where the “WHO First Method” comes in because it is the foundation that the next steps are built upon.
When you create ads for a campaign, you need to figure out who your avatar is. Similarly, when you want to find your ideal virtual team member, you also need to define your avatar aka the WHO.
The WHO is important because you’re going to be working with this person and you want to make sure that you have great synergy. Your personalities should be able to work together rather than clash.
Your WHO is going to be different from my WHO and everybody else’s WHO. But generally, whenever it comes to choosing the WHO, you should focus on the personality types that you enjoy working with.
Your ideal virtual team member avatar should be someone you will get on with best.
When I hired my first virtual team member to edit audio for my podcast, there was a personality clash. If you recall what I mentioned earlier, he wasn’t open minded enough to try out what I was suggesting, which created a friction point.
Every time I asked him to do something, I was unhappy, because he wasn’t doing it the way that I wanted it to be done.
It probably had to do with the control freak in me. But I strongly believe that because I spent the time creating these processes and systems, they should lead to an almost predictable outcome. If there’s another variable in there that hasn’t been accounted for, that’s just more headache than I want or need in my business.
A key reason why I’m putting an emphasis on the WHO is because I believe skills are trainable (not EVERY skill though, as you will see later on).
If you remember Mark earlier, he had no idea what digital marketing was. But eventually, he was able to set up and manage podcasts, conduct the required research, create basic Facebook ads, and even build a basic WordPress website from a template.
This is hiring somebody that had absolutely no idea how to do any of those things. The reason that worked is because the focus during the hiring process was the WHO as opposed to what skill they can bring to the table.
Why can I say skills are trainable? Go to Udemy or Lynda.com. Any skill that you want to train somebody on, you can buy a course that shows them how to do it. The more technical the skill is, the more courses there are out there that you can put people through to get them that skill.
Once you know the profile of WHO you want in the business, you need to know the WHAT.
WHAT Will They Be In Your Business?
Once you figure out the WHO, you need to know the WHAT.
This is a bit easier than the previous step. The WHAT has the following elements:
- WHAT this prospective team member will be doing for you in your business.
- WHAT are the trainings you need to provide to get them proficient at the tasks they must carry out for you?
In a bird’s eye view, after finding the WHO, the WHAT is simply what they are going to be doing for you. This can include tasks like podcast editing, video editing, show notes, video, transcription to blog, post content writer, etc. It also helps you figure out what training that person needs and how to get them up to speed.
Not sure what else you can delegate? Learn more in my blog here.
This is especially relevant if business is growing and you find yourself snowed under with tasks and jobs to be done.
Just like the WHO, the WHAT will depend on your business as well.
The only advice that I can offer here is once you know your WHO, spend some time deciding what you want them to focus on during the first month.
The reason I’m saying for the first month is that it will give you and your team member 30 days to figure out the things that they want and don’t want to do in your business.
It will also give you 30 days to put systems and documentations and processes in place if they aren’t established yet. That way, you can fully delegate the WHAT to this person, doing that removes you from the doing of that thing.
As a result, you move up to the next level, which is going to be managing the doing of the thing because that is a completely different headspace to maintain as a business owner.
I did say earlier that the WHO is more important than the skills, but there are cases where skills are also important.
For example, if I’m going to look for a graphic designer, I need to make sure that they have good graphic design skills and match my WHO.
I know that kind of contradicts what I said earlier that skills are trainable. The caveat when hiring someone with no experience is that if you do not have those skills yourself, you’re not going to be a good judge of the work that they produce.
Using myself as an example…
Where I’ve struggled the most is when I’m trying to hire people to do things that I don’t understand how to do. When I tried to hire a graphic designer two or three times, the results have not been as encouraging as I would like.
And that is down to the fact that my idea of graphic design is very, very basic.
That becomes a problem when I’m working with a graphic designer, because I cannot eloquently communicate what I need them to do. So even if I hire a graphic designer that fits my WHO, but cannot fully execute on the WHAT, then they’re never going to be able to produce what I want.
It’s because I don’t know how to communicate what’s missing and what I specifically want.
So that’s why WHAT is important in certain cases, because at the end of the day, the idea here is to get this person involved in the business doing the things that you don’t want to do. That way, you can focus on the higher leverage tasks.
You can then tailor your job post to attract the right WHO to your business. But before we talk about the job post, let’s talk about where I typically look for virtual team members…
Which Job Platform Have I Been The Most Successful At?
The job post site I use is Onlinejobs.ph.
Throughout this article, you may notice that I will mention this platform several times and that my examples will be based on my experiences there. The reason I use Onlinejobs.ph is because this is a job site especially for freelancers that live in the Philippines.
Throughout the trial and error period, whenever I was trying to figure out this process and find someone, I hired people from all over India, former Eastern European, and even America.
Over the years that I have been doing this, I have found that I get on better with Filipinos because the culture fit seems to be better to me than most. My personality type, for some reason, seems to gel with them. They also seem to respond very well to my style.
Mark is also a Filipino.
Want to read more about my experience working with my Filipino team? Read my blog HERE.
Take note that this entire process is not “country specific.” So if you want to hire other nationalities, feel free to. The reason this system works is because it’s process-based.
Additionally, I am not saying that the process below will not work on other job sites. I have had people use Upwork, Freelancer and other sites with some minor tweaks and report back saying the process worked for them.
The process is platform/job site agnostic. So you can take it and run it in whichever country or platform you want to hire your team member from. Now, let’s talk about the job post.
Create a Job Post
Once you have figured out your WHO and WHAT, you will need to create a job post.
As you create your job posts, you want to make sure you call out your WHO. You must be clear about your WHAT as well. That way, you increase the chances of attracting the right WHO to go down your hiring funnel.
Think of the job post as an advertisement and you are the marketer. When you interact with a marketer, they are trying to sell you something. A good marketer will sell you what you need, disguised as what you want.
So, from a recruitment perspective, your job post sells the job role to the prospects.
We honestly do not know what exactly your prospects want, but you can bet your bottom dollar they need a job.
Remember that the job post is the first contact our prospect will have with you, so you need to make a good first impression to increase the likelihood of converting job seekers to applicants.
By weaving direct response copy principles, you will be able to have an attractive “sales page” aka your job post. And just like any effective sales page, your job post must be benefit heavy, have qualifying statements, and calls to actions.
You are not the only person looking for someone to hire, so making your job post intriguing will allow you to stand out in a sea of job posts.
So how do you make your job post standout? It is not as difficult as it seems…
You simply need to look at what everyone else is doing and do the complete opposite!
Let me show you an example:
Putting yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a job, which of the following job posts are you more likely to click on? #1 or #2?
If you were to put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a job, which one would you be more likely to apply to?
I would hope you said #2!
Talking about funnels and digital marketing, headlines that highlight benefits are attractive. Just like the second job title, it is more detailed and includes benefits, which is more likely to catch the attention of your applicants.
And what I found is that having the benefits in the “headline” gets people’s attention. It gets them to actually look through things properly because of the benefits that they’re likely to get.
You do not want to sound lazy and that you are not putting much of an effort by crafting your job post titles like the first one.
That is just one example of using direct response principles within your job post.
You then need to set up a few other things in the funnel before posting the job post.
Establish Basic Automation To Make Your Life Easier
Remember the situation I mentioned earlier where you’re flooded by a bunch of emails from people who are unqualified? This is the step that helps you avoid just that.
The way this works is at the end of the job post is a call to action in the form of an invitation for people to email you their CV with a specific subject line. If you do an excellent job at making the job post attractive, you are likely to get inundated with emails and CV’s from prospective team members.
The most emails I have had running this process is over 300.
Not only do you have to go through these emails one by one, but you also need to do further weeding out after that.
AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT…
After email deluge hell, someone told me to use canned responses to filter out the suitable from the not suitable applicants, and thus the canned response situation was birthed.
So, I set up a process that when someone reads the job post and sends an email, it goes to the email address I specify in the job post, and they will receive the next round of tests.
Automating this process will save you loads of time and headaches.
I create basic automation through canned responses in Gmail. So if they follow instructions, they move on to the next phase. If they don’t follow instructions, you pay them no attention.
If they can’t follow simple instructions, which is the very first hurdle, the chances of them making a good team member is slim to none based on my experience.
One example of automation is asking them to use the subject “Rockstar Executive” when emailing their application. These 2 words are the trigger for the automation that moves them to the next step. If they don’t use these words, they don’t go to the next step.
Create The Phase 1 Test
Those who passed the first hurdle are then given a test.
The reason we need to give tests to these applicants is to filter out any tire-kickers and only attract those that are serious and likely to stay with you for the long term.
This test is really just for me to figure out their “basic working infrastructure.” I ask them about their internet speed, which includes the download and upload speed, and also typing speed. I also like to throw in a fake fictional customer support query (depending if it’s relevant to the role), just to see how they handle that.
I do all of these tests in Google Forms.
These tests do not have to be something done for your business if it is not required or relevant. You can also tailor it based on your business needs.
Create The Phase 2 Test
For the people that go on to phase 2, this is where we do a bit of a deeper test on the WHAT.
Where phase 1 is getting them to prove they are who we’re looking for, phase 2 is then getting them to display that they have some idea of the skills that we need.
You don’t want the test to be too hard, but it should be challenging enough that they get a mental workout to prove they have the skills you are looking for.
The test for phase 2 allows me to check their research skills and how they handle other tasks which will be similar to what they will be doing as part of their job.
My tests are primarily designed to have my ideal WHO separate themselves from the pack.
Let us say I have decided that my WHO needs to be someone who pays attention to detail, and an applicant claims to have this quality, but they do not actually follow the instructions as directed in the job post, then I know that applicant does not fit the bill.
Do note that if the person you will be hiring is who you are going to train, then this phase tests resourcefulness as opposed to testing for the skill.
Creating the Interview Booking link
In continuation to the automation earlier for the more menial tasks in the process, I create a booking link for the candidates who pass Phase 2 of the testing, and make it to the interview stage. This circumvents the need to play email tennis with a prospective new team member, as you both try to figure out what days you are both free.
Personally, I use a scheduling tool called Calendly to generate this link. There are a bunch of tools like this on the internet and they are relatively easy to use and setup.
Here is how I setup my Calendly:
- Go to Calendly.com and create your account
- Once you have successfully logged in, click +New Event Type on the homepage
- Choose the One-on-One Event option
- Fill in all the event details. For the duration, I usually set it at 60 minutes.
- Be sure to set the Date Range so that you can indicate the days when you are free
- After completing all the details, you will be provided with a Calendly link that you can send to the applicants
- Any dates that have already been chosen will be blocked off to avoid any double bookings
Now depending on the final number of candidates I am inviting for the interview, I usually free up 2 days and those 2 days are the ONLY days free on the calendar for candidates to book a time for their interview.
This is beneficial because, as I previously mentioned, it saves both myself and the candidate from email tennis of “When are you available for an interview?” In addition, it allows me to set the times and that can be a filtering mechanism that further vets the candidates and their suitability for the role they are applying for.
Once you have your link set, you want to send it to candidates who you are inviting for an interview.
Before going ahead with the interviews, I make sure to turn off the job post on Onlinejobs.ph so that there are no new applicants that go through the process again. If the interviews are unsuccessful and I don’t find someone during the interviews, I can always turn it back on.
And now that you have all the things you need to start posting, it is time to get the word out and find your new team member.
Phase 2: Execution
Posting the Job Post
This is self-explanatory and will depend on the job site you decide to use to find your virtual team member. And once you post the job, the machine that you have put together should now carry the bulk of the load.
What will be left for you to do is to screen the applicants, send rejection/unsuccessful application emails, interview prospects and hire someone.
Filter Prospects from Phase 1
Once enough responses have come back from phase 1, I then filter all the responses based on the criteria that I’m looking for.
To give you an example, for a general assistant, I like them to have a minimum of 1 megabyte download speed and 1 megabyte upload speed. For typing speed, a minimum of 33 words per minute. And if they meet those two, the final deciding factor is whether I like their answer to the fictional customer support ticket.
For those that don’t meet the criteria, just to be a nice human being, I send them an unsuccessful application email. I remember the days when I was searching for a job, and didn’t like it when I never heard back.
Businesses use this story of “if you don’t hear back from us, it’s because we’re overwhelmed with applications.” The internet gives us the tools we can use to automate most of these things and if you get that right, you can send a super simple message saying “thank you for replying and I appreciate you taking the time. But on this occasion, you’ve been unsuccessful.”
And that’s what happens when people don’t meet the criteria.
Filter Prospects from Phase 2
Just like the filtering after phase 1, we have the filtering after phase 2 as well for those who passed the initial screening.
Depending on the number of applicants who pass phase 2, you can choose for the top 5. I generally pick the top 5 or 7 as a rule of thumb. This depends on how confident I am with the candidates.
There may be some people who don’t meet my criteria for phase 2 after filtering but because they’ve shown some kind of promise, I invite them for the interview to chat with them and see how they are as a person.
And because the WHO is more important than the WHAT, some of them will meet my standards after the interview.
The reason why I only limited the candidates to the top 5-7 is because you don’t want to take up too much of your time interviewing a lot of people. From my experience, interviews take roughly 60 minutes. So the more people you invite for interviews, the more time it will take and the more strain it will cause on your workload.
Contrary to the usual video call interviews, I prefer to do mine over Skype chat.
Now do take note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with carrying out the interview via video. If you think this will be a better fit in your hiring process, feel free to conduct video interviews instead.
I personally prefer chat interviews because I found that in my experience with OnlineJobs.ph, the people I was interviewing were a little closed off during video calls. Most Filipinos tend to be a little shy during your first few encounters with them. And because of their shyness, it is difficult for them to put their best foot forward.
If you also consider the fact that they will be working virtually and the right candidate would be a self-starter, I will not need to have frequent communication with them so long as everything works out.
The chat interviews have worked well for me all these years, so I stuck to it.
When it comes to the interview structure itself, there are a few KEY questions that you want to ask. These questions go towards further confirming that you have the right WHO and assessing whether the two of you will work well together. I personally ask more open-ended questions because I’d prefer that they do most of the talking. Some of these questions include:
- Do you currently work?
- Tell me about your last job
- What do you want to learn/do in this job?
- Do you have your own computer and Internet access? If you have access, how fast is your connection?
- If the internet goes out what are your other options?
- Have you worked for foreign employers before?
- Will you work from home or from an Internet café?
- Where are you in the Philippines?
- How much money are you looking to make?
- Do you have a Paypal account?
- What are your Long-term plans?
- When would you be available to start work?
- Do you have any questions for me?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but they should serve as a starting point to get you thinking along the right lines when creating your own questions.
Feel free to include these questions in your interviews as well if they are relevant to you.
And once you have conducted all the tests and interviews, it is time to assess who of the candidates make the cut.
A Few More Things to Consider
Now before you go and implement everything I have laid out; I just have a couple of other things you should consider when screening:
- You want prompt responses. The reason for this is that not only do fast responses prove that someone is a self-starter, but it also proves that they know what they are talking about. It also shows that they are indeed eager to get the role.
- Instilling a sense of urgency. You need to set deadlines because you have this process set up for people to go through, and you want to make sure that those who pass can continue to the next phase together. You do not want anyone to be left behind due to late submissions. That way you can then set things up on the back-end with the emails and everything that goes out can be scheduled properly.
Assessing Your Candidate
This step should be straightforward because you have your WHO, and it is a case of seeing which ones fit the bill.
And after this long but rewarding process of screening through a whole bunch of applicants, you can now focus on that one person you have hired.
Make the Job Offer
Once you decide who you like the most out of the people you interviewed, it’s time to make a job offer.
This job offer acts as the contract because it states all of the arrangements that we have agreed upon, including rate and working hours
If they accept the job offer, you onboard them as a new team member.
If the job offer is not accepted, negotiate to find out if you and the candidate can come to an agreement. If not, then you can choose to go to the 2nd best candidate or go back to the start.
The latter option is almost like snakes and ladders. But the beauty of going back to the start is that you will already have established your funnel. So all you need to do is do any necessary minor tweaking and run the funnel again.
And once you’ve gone through that long, arduous, but very rewarding process, it’s time to finally welcome your new team member.
Phase 3: Onboarding
Welcoming Your New Team Member
Congratulations! If you have followed the process; you should have your new talented and reliable team member!
You have now taken the first step to getting your delegation shoes on and start the process of working more ON your business, than IN your business. Hopefully this process has gone some way to showing you that recruiting is not as difficult as you thought, provided you approach it with a process.
Now that you have your new team member, you have to get them on boarded as smoothly as possible. Check out this Complete Employee Onboarding guide from the good people at Sweet Process.
Proper onboarding will go a long way to helping you build rapport and trust with your new team member.
And that is the process that has allowed me to help business owners create room for growth in their business and to have the freedom to work ON their business and not IN their business.
But remember that the challenges don’t end after you hire your virtual team member. Once you hire the right virtual team member, you want to make sure that you manage this person well, which presents a whole new set of challenges. I’ll go over some tips to help you get started on the next part of your outsourcing journey.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS ON MANAGING YOUR NEW TEAM MEMBER
Here are a few key things that I have implemented with my team, and so far, we all have a harmonious relationship with each other and I am aware of everything that happens in the business.
At the end of every workday, I have my team member send me an EOD (end of day) email breaking down what they have worked on that day.
The EOD email is quite simple, and I just ask them to briefly answer three questions:
- What did you do today?
- What problems did you run into today?
- How can I make my processes better?
Based on my experience with Filipinos like Mark, it was a little bit of a challenge to have them be honest with the last two questions.
During the first six months, he would simply say “fine,” which I told him would not serve either of us.
You need to reiterate to your team member that these questions are important in building better processes and procedures. These questions give them a sense of accountability in the business because it shows that you value their input.
This is why the next tip is very important.
Make sure that you are always in touch with your team member and are easy to reach, especially during the first few months when he/she is still learning the ropes.
In terms of regular meetings, my team and I have a beginning and an end of week call.
I have found that these calls allow me to get everything I am thinking out of my head, and it allows the team to see the direction that I want to move in that week. It also gives them a chance to apply some forward thinking and share with me any ideas or issues.
My team members and I also communicate via Slack for any other matters.
Make sure to create a sense of openness with them so that they will not hesitate to bring up any matters with you.
You Need to Be A Mentor, not a Boss
Just like any unfamiliar environment, there is always an adjusting period. You need to dedicate time to train your new hire and give that person a clearer understanding of your business.
They must know who your clients are, how you serve them, what you do, and what tools you are using before they can then fully step into the role.
Where most people go wrong, and it is where I have gone wrong in the past, is I had the mentality of “Oh yeah, now I have a VA. I can just give this task to that person and he or she is going to know what I need them to do.”
That is abdication, and that is not good. Abdication is going to lead your business to ruin.
That is the last thing that you want to happen, after all the effort you have put into finding the right team member.
Therefore, you need to slowly immerse them into the business through letting them assist you first, then helping them improve their skills so that they can eventually replace you and you can focus on more important matters. This is called delegation.
Constantly remind yourself that you should be delegating rather than abdicating.
So, to recap…
When you are ready to take the step to bring in outside help to grow your business, it is important that you start with WHO.
We start here because unless you want to bring in a specialist, bringing in the right kind of person is better than bringing on an “expert.” Focusing on the WHO allows us to bring in someone who would buy into the culture you are trying to build for your business and then learn the skills needed to fulfill their role.
When you know the WHO, you then need to decide if this person is coming on to assist you or eventually replace you. Clearly defining the WHO allows you to figure out how you and your hire can help each other grow the business.
You also want to automate the hiring process where it makes sense so that you do not find yourself in the position of needing to hire someone to help you hire someone.
Lastly, once you have your new virtual team member, remember: delegation over abdication.
As the business owner, YOU handle your business, not your new virtual team member.
LET’S GET TO WORK
And that is how you find and hire reliable virtual team members.
The funnel basically moves people through each phase. You get them to prove they are who you’re looking for and that they have the skill that you need.
Don’t get intimidated if everything seems too complicated based on my explanations. I just have more experience doing it, that is why I am able to explain everything in more detail.
If it’s your first time, you don’t need to make things complicated in order to find the right virtual team member immediately. The importance of going through this process is actually experiencing doing it yourself.
Once you can set all these systems in place, finding a great virtual team member is not going to be that much of a challenge anymore.
You do not have to go through the entire process, running around like a headless chicken and hoping that you got it right this time, after sorting through hundreds of emails. But do not expect your problems to be fixed overnight.
Trust in the process and have the confidence that the person you find at the end of it is going to be the right WHO that you’re looking for.
And if they are the right WHO, you’re not going to find yourself 3 to 6 months later trying to recruit somebody else, because that first person didn’t work out.
The person that you hire is going to be in it for the long haul because the both of you work well together and will be able to form a great bond.
Congratulations for making it all the way to the end! I wish you all the best on your journey.