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How to Hire Virtual Help
Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Tuesday, August 13, 2013

When you’ve got more work than there are hours in the day, sites like Elance, FlexJobs, and oDesk can be inexpensive and efficient resources to help you find the talent you need—even if you’ve got a small budget, sporadic needs, and a lack of office space.

They even allow you to pay hired help with your credit card, and will facilitate the issuance of tax documents for those workers if you choose. Though you can peruse resumes, portfolios, and feedback from others who have worked with prospective talent, the key to successfully hiring virtual help is clear communication. Here’s how ensure the process of hiring and using a virtual worker is a seamless one.

While the job description will naturally include details about roles and responsibilities, you should also be clear about what your business does, and why you need the help. When you provide detail around your company, you’ll increase your chances of attracting a virtual worker who has some industry background, or at the least, a passion for what you do. By finding such a match, you’ll reduce the learning curve, and may even gain insight to insider knowledge they possess, that reveals new ideas and approaches you hadn’t considered.

Use relevant key words.

Virtual job sites allow candidates to search for jobs based on a number of criteria, including budget, project deadlines, and keywords, so think about the words a candidate might use to search for jobs when writing your job description—especially if you’re looking for someone with a specific skill set, like “package designer,” or “Wikipedia writer.”

Describe your workflow process.

Describe the style of your business to find a contractor who flourishes within your environment—even though they’re virtual. Being able to work with some ambiguity isn’t a skill everyone possesses, so be clear upfront if you don’t have all the answers—or you don’t intend on spending much time helping the worker problem-solve. If your processes are stringent and template-based, note that, too. Making the contractor aware of exactly what amount of thought, or “order-taking,” is required will ensure that you hire a person who can fit within your parameters.

Explicitly state the software and skill level required.

Never assume that a contractor is equipped with specific software, the skills to use it, or a certain education level, unless you state it upfront. You should also include what system and file format work should be performed in, and how you expect files to be shared and delivered.

Be clear about timing.

Most virtual contractors work on multiple projects simultaneously, and some even have full time jobs. If your need is urgent, be explicit about that, so you’ll attract talent who is available to turn work around quickly.

What’s in it for them?

Money matters for virtual workers, but there is value to securing long-term opportunities, too. While working for your small business may not be a showstopper on a persons’ resume, it may be very attractive to a worker who is seeking the potential for a lasting engagement, and a long-term relationship. Include those relevant details in your job description, as well as other benefits, like the potential for the persons’ work to reach a mass audience.

State how you’ll choose.

Be specific on exactly what you want to see in virtual workers’ application. Not only will it ease your selection process, you can gauge how well a person follows direction, and how interested they are in your job, based on the effort put forth.

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