You have reached the point of not being able to do it all yourself, not knowing how to do it all, or you want to leverage your talents and delegate the stuff that you just aren’t good at. Excellent. Now you need to hire someone.
Here is a handful of tips that I have gathered over the course of my career in human resources that will set you on the right path for having a successful hiring experience.
Know What You Want Your Assistant to Do
Knowing you need help and knowing the areas in which you need help are different things. Take some quiet time and make a list of all the things you would like your assistant to do for you. I keep a notepad beside my desktop computer and at the top of the page it says: “Who else could be doing this?” And when I am working on something that isn’t my strength, I jot it down. Here’s a list of ideas of tasks and projects that your assistant might be able to work on for you:
- typical administrative services, such as: confirming appointments, manage calendar, coordinate travel
- research: looking up vendors, getting quotes for services, investigating new office equipment, learning about the competition
- word processing and presentations: formatting and editing documents, creating manuals, creating presentations in PowerPoint, compiling questionnaire information into a report
- transcription services, from calls, lectures, presentations
- mail service: sorting, handling urgent items, order fulfillment
- email service: sorting, responding to routine requests, creating auto-responders and signatures
- telephone service: responding to routine requests, contacting you with important requests
- bookkeeping: paying bills and reconciling accounts, invoicing services, managing accounts receivable
- marketing service: implementing an advertising plan, maintaining sales brochures, managing customer feedback process, managing social media responses
- human resources: setting reminders for performance reviews, reviewing resumes submitted, handling payroll submissions, sending thank you notes to candidates
- personal needs: sending invitations to a party or golf outing, reminding client of birthdays and anniversaries, coordinating dry cleaning or household management services
Determine the Qualities and Competencies Required for the Assistant
You are not hiring a mini-version of you. You are hiring someone to do the stuff that you don’t want to do or that someone else can do better than you. That means you need to think about the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours that you are looking for in another person to be able to complete the essential functions of the job (which you defined above).
If your assistant will be liaising with your clients, you will be looking for someone with excellent customer service skills, behaving professionally at all times, responding in an efficient and accurate manner.
You may also be looking for someone with solid organizational skills, including time management and task management.
Communication skills are another competency that you should be looking for.
There are other areas that you might want to consider such as being a team player, having good judgement, computer and technical skills (especially those you do not have), and so on.
Create a Job Posting
This is where you tie in the essential functions of the job with the language around the qualities and competencies required and create a posting. With the use of proper language, your post will help non-eligible candidates self-select out, saving you time in reviewing applications. Sometimes, I create a test to see if applicants are paying attention to the details of the post or if they are just applying to everything.
Post the Job
There are tons of places to post a job online these days. Check with some colleagues who have recently hired to see where they posted. You may end up getting a referral while you are at it. Sometimes people hire a part-time assistant or a virtual assistant.
Review Applications and Schedule Interviews
Be brutal in your assessment. If you see something you do not like (for example, a blatant typo), toss it.
Call potential candidates and have a mini-telephone interview. Look for a specific competency, such as communication skills. If the candidate passes your mini-test, then schedule the interview.
Manage the Interview
Create behaviourally-based questions that address the competencies, for example: “Give me an example of when you had to manage conflicting demands in a short time frame.”
If time management is a competency you are seeking and the candidate is late…
Always check references. If you get voice mail on a reference and you have tried to call a few times, leave a message that says: “I am calling for a reference about Sally Jones. If you would re-hire her, please call me at 555-867-5309 or send me an email at email@example.com.”
So that is a high-level overview of the hiring process. If your intuition tells you someone isn’t right, acknowledge it. Oftentimes you will know the candidate isn’t right and will continue going through the process. Save yourself and the candidate time and angst. Find someone else.