In Part 1 of this series we briefly went through answering the "why" when it comes to nonprofit outsourcing. Today we are going to walk through the "How" for those that want to know how you can actually execute when in need of some outsourcing help.  Hiring a VA effectively is much like hiring a great employee, with just a few caveats and additional considerations.

First, where do you find VAs? The most common places are oDesk (my personal favorite) and eLance. A quick Google search will also bring up literally hundreds of specialist VA organizations, if your needs are specific or the hours you require are intense.


On both oDesk and eLance, it’s important to post your job with a very detailed breakdown of the tasks required. You can also assign requirements based on your needs - it’s usually good to look for workers who have passed English comprehension tests, and you can also require a minimum number of hours worked, as well as a minimum average feedback ranking from previous employers.


The process I like to follow is pretty simple, and usually results in pretty good employees:

1)    Post a detailed, carefully worded job description requiring English skills and a minimum of 25-50 hours worked with an average rating of 4/5.

2)    Let the job sit there for a week or two to collect as many applications as possible. You’ll get a ton - and definitely pay attention to who responds the quickest. Look for initiative!

3)    Narrow your list down based on the quality of the response, implied enthusiasm, metrics and feedback on worker’s profile, and anything else that may stand out to you.

4)    Send each of the workers on your shortlist a message asking them to state their qualifications and sum up the job necessary. This will test comprehension and writing ability, as well as weed out anybody sending stock responses.

5)     Get your shortlist down to 2-3 names and schedule them for a quick Skype chat or call. A call may be taxing for their English for lower end work and is often not required, but you’ll find they’re usually happy to do it anyway.

6)    Select the most qualified worker from your short list and try out the process! Give him/her a small task - much smaller than the scope of the job - and a short period of time to do it. If you’re not satisfied, try someone else on your list or provide additional coaching. Any tasks you give, ask them to repeat back to you to verify comprehension.

7)    Over time expand from small tasks to the full scope of the work you need, building in time for coaching, additional clarification and opportunity to build rapport and understanding of needs.

How do you price a job?

I was initially worried about this when I was hiring my first VA. The job I needed help with was very simple and did not require a lot of work - just email time. I didn't want to get into an Ari Gold negotiation so I asked my friend for advice. He told me that I just need to set the rate in the job post. Don't ask for a price, just tell them what the job is worth to you. This was a great solution. The job that you will be posting is different for everyone. You can see what prices other people set to get a gauge on whether you are on track or not. 

I posted my VA job at $4/hr and I got about 100 applicants. On another research project I set the rate too low and several people came back and told me they would complete the work, but for a higher price. This was good for me because I wasn't really sure what to charge in the first place so I just picked something out of thin air. The key is that the market will respond and you will make adjustments as you need to. 


Additional Resources for working with your new VA

VA Networking
An interesting article about outsourcing in Esquire Magazine
A great post from 43Folders.com

Have some great examples where you have used outsourcing? Contact us and share your experience!