We’ll be going over step 3 of the apple pie method, and I’ll give you an update on the Honda Odyssey Project from last episode.
The Honda Odyssey Project
Last week I explained how I needed to figure out how to add a seatbelt to our 2006 Honda Odyssey for the middle seat and as a challenge to me I decided to use it as a sample project to see if some VAs could help me figure out what to do as to how to install a seatbelt.
What I did is I started off writing a detailed description of the problem that I have. You can see that at yourfirstvirtualassistant.com/template. I posted a job and I knew that it would be a challenging job because it’s very specific. So I wrote a detailed description in a word document complete with pictures to support that and I ended up getting only three people applying for that job posting. I was expecting to get at least ten or so but as I looked at it I found two reasons why I only got three applications. One is the title of the job posting was very specific. The title says, “Honda Odyssey Seatbelt Method” so it wouldn’t show up for VAs looking for web research jobs or if a VA is looking at all the jobs available, reads the title and might not know anything about Honda Odyssey. Or it may not sound too interesting for them so they pass it up.
Secondly, I only listed it as a 3-5 hours research job for $10.00 and it wasn’t that easy so the VAs who felt that they are capable of doing it might have thought that it wasn’t worth their time. What I could have done is remove that line about how many hours it would take but I wanted to set their expectations realistically and be more upfront with the difficulty of the task so at the end of the day we’re both happy.
So what I did was I reposted the job in a different section in Odesk because I know that it was more difficult. The original section where I put it was on Administrative Support > Web Research and I ended up reposting it in Design and Multimedia – Engineering and Technical Design.
I got 3 candidates right away upon posting the job. The first candidate was an Electrical Engineer from Italy with strong mechanical aptitude. One thing that interests me with this guy is that in his profile it lists $22.22 / hr rate but he only offered at $2.00 / hr. This is a good example of a VA who’s trying to get their foot on the door. They are trying to get basic projects to get good feedbacks and once they already have a good feedback and get used to the Odesk system, they’re going to crank up their rates.
This is the kind of VA that I really like to work with because if you treat them right and you develop a relationship with them, they will appreciate you as one of the first people they worked with and you can use them in the future as a good resource.
Another person that applied is from the Philippines and her name is Faith. This is interesting because she only bid $2.22 for this job and I reposted it at $20. The reason being is kind of the same as the guy from Italy. I hired them both and she got back to me first with a really good summary of the things that she found out. I think she would be an excellent resource in the future.
Put Your Project In a Different Section in Odesk.
I guess one take away so far with my experiment about the “Honda Odyssey” is that putting your project in a different section in Odesk will help so that different types of person will see it. It is good if you are trying to hire high caliber people or if you are trying to work on more complex projects.
I’m pretty happy with how that is going and I’ll have a follow up next week once I dig into the details and if I close out this job. In fact I’m going to make a new spot on my website just for this project and it will be www.yourvirtualassisant.com/honda. I will document this process as it goes along, everything from my initial posting to the responses I got back and to the end results in case some people would be interested in seeing a real world example or maybe you could learn a bit as far as doing your own projects.
The Rising VA Star
Another thing that is interesting with VAs like the one mentioned above is that a talented and rising VA star (As I like to call them) excellent examples of really good VAs who whatever their field is, they are excellent at them. They really love doing their work, they have a great price, they are really attentive and they have good work ethics. If you can find VAs like that and really just kind of latch unto them and develop a good relationship. They can do more for your business than ten decent VAs will do. They are the kind of VA that eventually, you can delegate some of your work as far as managing or looking for more VAs or increasing roles in future projects. I’ll keep my eye on this two VAs and I’ll give you an update in the future if I hire them again.
What Makes A Good VA?
Let’s focus now on evaluating or pre-screening your VA candidates. Let’s talk in general about some of the things that are good to do. Assuming you have a project and you posted the job. You started to get applicants for the position. First this is you put an “Easter Egg” in your description wherein the applicant needs to include a word in their application. That word can be found in the job description to ensure that they have read the whole posting.
You should evaluate the attentiveness of their application. Did they include samples of their work? Do they have URLs for work or website? A PDF or even a zip or any sample of their work. It would be a plus if the VA took the time to attach some of their work.
Another thing to see is if they did cut and pasted their response to you. Many VA’s apply to a whole bunch of jobs at once and write a generic response. A good VA should craft a specific response and show genuine interest instead of using a generic script to apply. Just pick out the ones who actually took the time to read your job and have genuine interest on it.
Find Out More About Your Short-listed VAs
Once you find a VA that you are interested in or you want to find out a little bit more. You can click on their profile and you can find a lot more information about them. You can find out how many hours they worked. I like to find VAs that have like 50, 100 or 1000 hours experience. That’s a good thing. You can see if they have similar job experience and the rating they got for that job to give you an idea if they are a good fit, if they are capable and if they have the interest in doing the sort of work you’re looking for.
Feedback is really important. Feedback in Odesk is from zero to five stars. Typically, if the VA doesn’t have a 4.75 or higher then I usually skip them unless they don’t have any feedback at all. It may be a bit on the higher risk but they could turn out to be a rising VA star like in my Honda Odyssey example.
You can also see if they are an individual contractor or if they work for a team. There are pros and cons if a VA works in a team. One of the positives can be, you are tapping into a pool of resources possibly. On the negative side, sometimes if working for a team, it’s hard to see what their talent is because many team members could work on the same profile. One other consideration is that your quality of work could vary if the VA is working with a team. For smaller projects, better to just find an individual contractor.
One other useful information is for you to look at the tests the VA has taken. You can look at specific skills and see if they ranked high on something. The fact that they have taken a lot of tests shows that they have some initiative.
Start a Dialogue
After you have taken a look at the profiles of the VA, you can start a dialogue with them. You can send them an email, ask basic questions and see how fast they get back to you. If it takes them a couple of days when you have people who got back to you in a couple of hours then that might be someone who either doesn’t check their email as often or they have a bunch of other jobs and your job won’t be a priority for them.
How Long Should You Wait For Applicants?
One question people sometimes ask is how long you should wait for applications before they roll in? One thing to keep in mind is that it usually takes about 20 minutes between the time you post the job until applications show up and there’s a bit of a delay when people apply as well. So I’ve noticed that if I’m waiting for a job, all of a sudden boom! 25 minutes later I have 10 applicants. It also depends on the time of day or the time of week depending on the location of the applicant.
The Fast Action Getaway! Three Quick Tips
Here is a couple of easy steps so you can start finding awesome Virtual Assistants.
- Find a VA with 100 hours experience or more.
- Look for a feedback score of 4.75 or higher.
- Find VA’s with similar work experience as to what you are doing
Next week we’re going to talk about step 4, Leverage and Manage your VAs!
Make sure to check out yourfirstvirtualassistant.com/90seconds to see how to get set up to find and hire your first VA in under 90 seconds.
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Thanks for listening
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