Outsourcing: How to choose/find the best applicant/VA? Any tips?

12 replies
Hi,

When I post a job at Odesk-like sites, I get a lot of nice applicants.

Most of the applicants have good feedback (4-5 stars), have worked for several contractors, nice portofolio, and a nice application letter where they have included the word I wanted them to include in their applications to ensure they have read my job post.

And then I think, "nice, so many qualified applicants".

But when I hire them, they can be bad on following the instructions. They sometimes follow only 50 % of my instructions.

Or it can be other things that makes me just disappointed.

Do you have any tips on how to filter the applicants and choose the best?

Or any tips on what to do to be better on choosing applicants?

#applicant or va #choose or find #find #outsourcing #tips
  • Profile picture of the author blillard
    I like to have a testing budget set to the side for that exact reason in case things don't work I wont be risking anything major because I look at that as throw away should it not work out if that makes sense. I'll post a job for content. I'll usually get about 30 applicants, but I'll only test 10 of them, the ones who I feel are best qualified only after I put them through a rough interview. From there I'll make my decision and give them the test job. If they are able to handle that SMALL task properly then I'll have more work for them. I spend like $20-40 just testing guys out.
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  • Profile picture of the author blogbucks
    I currently have four outsourced workers. These folks do a bang up job for me and while they took awhile to find them it was worth the effort.

    Here's the process I've used, nothing too original but it seems to work.

    1) Post my job description
    2) Review resumes & work samples
    3) I order the candidates by ability
    4) Setup chat interview with the top three candidates. Some of these appointments will fall through for various reasons. I typically will not give the candidates that don't show another shot at interviewing. I thank them for their resume and then move on to the next one on my list.
    5) I plan on hiring at least two, sometimes three if there are two that are super close in capabilities and chat interview performance.
    6) I make all top candidates a job offer. I clearly explain in my job offer that they will be on a paid probation basis and that if it works out they will be hired. I will vary the paid probation period by one to two weeks depending upon the difficulty of the job and the first task.
    7) I give them all a very difficult first task. To me this is key. It helps me weed out the sub-par performers right away. It may sound harsh but it's worked for me every time I've done it. I tell them up front to ask me questions if they don't understand the task or get stuck. If they don't ask questions or solve the problem on their own they typically are not going to last long working remotely anyway. This type of work requires self-starters and people willing to ask questions & communicate.
    8) I hire the one that performs & communicates with me the best.


    I hope you find the kind of folks you're looking for. The effort will be well worth it!
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  • Profile picture of the author AbdullahKaragoz
    So it's about testing first before hiring for long term.

    But isn't it different process between on hiring someone for a long term job (like content writing), and hiring someone for a one-time job (sales letter writing, web design)?

    It's hard to test who will best write the sales letter, make cover graphics, or do any one time job as you want - at least not with low budget.

    I mean how should I go forward when hiring for a one-time job?
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  • Profile picture of the author blogbucks
    Based on your subject line I thought you were looking for a longer term relationship, like with a Virtual Assistant.

    For one-time jobs, like Copy Writers, I've had good success following these five simple tips:
    1. Compare profiles between applicants and pick the one that seems to best understand the job you've posted for.
    2. Read the reviews. I don't pick anyone with less than 4 stars on Elance and I prefer 5.
    3. Make sure they have done at least 12 or more jobs successfully.
    4. Review their credentials (if any), this is especially true for technical jobs.
    5. Take a look at their portfolios, make sure any sample work they share with you is spot on.

    I've used Elance more oDesk; however, in both cases, reading their reviews and not taking anyone that has a low rating or low number of jobs has helped me land the best people for one-time jobs.
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  • Profile picture of the author FraserC
    The only way to know if a person is going to be any good is to test them out bit by bit, giving them longer and longer leashes as you build trust.

    If I'm hiring a writer, I'll go through the standard process, and settle on a few people that look good on paper. Then I'll give them one quick assignment. Write a 400 word article on topic X.

    I'll also do a bunch of things that will test their personality. For example, I won't give them a deadline to see if they're proactive. It's amazing how many people will take on a job and then not hustle to get it completed. I'll check the quality of the work, the originality, etc.

    And if everything worked out well, then I'll give them two articles to work on. Again, you're trying to see how well their personality plays out over time. You'll find that outsourcers will have all kinds of personal tragedies - hurricanes, sick family members, etc. It happens often enough that it's probably the fact that they overcommitted themselves. It's good to learn if they have this tendency early on, so you don't overly rely on them.

    Have you ever heard the term, "slow to hire, quick to fire"? Take your time with each candidate. Building an amazing team that you can rely on is a marathon, not a sprint. :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author RylanClayne
      I totally agree with all the above posts and you could simply copy the steps above to achieve really good results when it comes to outsourcing. I actually follow most of the above especially when wanting someone to work for the long term although as mentioned you really wont know how they perform until you actually put them to the test.

      One little thing I found that may help is actually asking a question or 2 (for example asking them to list past jobs they have done, or perhaps giving them with a random task to perform) when posting the actual job. You will find a lot of applicants simply make an application without even reading the brief and this is a good indication of how particular an applicant is and if they are indeed interested in the project. You can then easily weed out applicants based upon those who simply do not take the time to answer those questions.

      You then give each potential applicant a chunk job based on what you need done, a chunk job not being of very high value but enough to see the quality and dedication of the applicant and make your choice dependent on the results! It can be a tough job getting the outsourcing set up but it is very worthwhile once everything is working smoothly!
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  • Profile picture of the author Lilach
    I must admit I really struggle to find good outsourcers overseas. I definitely think that although it's a lot cheaper you do loose some quality plus the communication can be temperamental.

    Peopleperhour is a great place. I give people a test (unpaid) before I hire anyone. I also give the same test to about 4 or 5 people. I look for how well they communicate, how proactive they are, how quickly they carry out and complete the task and of course the quality of the work.

    You need to think about what sort of VA they are and how you will work with them. If you're looking for a VA to literally take instructions and do simple tasks it can work well. But if you need something a little more advanced I've had to go locally to get the quality of work.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anjine
    Although I am a writer, there is no way I can produce the amount of content I'll need over the next few months, so I've been looking into outsourcing solutions also.

    I came across workaholics4hire.com and although they look to cost a bit more than elance & the others, they seem to be worth it.

    If nothing else, check out some of their articles on hiring freelancers - very informative.
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    • Profile picture of the author whossain
      At first, I thank all the writers for their informative writing here on forum. I worked for last few months on oDesk on SEO. I got good feedback, successfully completed the jobs.

      From those works, I got some ideas about how employers hire a contractor. Many become biased regarding country or region. They need work but demand for other quality. that is useless. For hiring they should examine the contractor profile minutely though it is not possible always to find out the best quality contractors only justifying their profile. Good long term relation may work.
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  • Well one of the things I do right away is hire multiple people for a smaller, similar project to test them out.

    They can say whatever they want on their resume, but until you see them in action it's very difficult to filter them out. So your best bet is to hire 5-10 people for smaller, similar jobs and you'll quickly see who the stars are and who the deadbeats are.
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    • Profile picture of the author AbdullahKaragoz
      Originally Posted by InternetBusinessVelocity View Post

      Well one of the things I do right away is hire multiple people for a smaller, similar project to test them out.

      They can say whatever they want on their resume, but until you see them in action it's very difficult to filter them out. So your best bet is to hire 5-10 people for smaller, similar jobs and you'll quickly see who the stars are and who the deadbeats are.
      Test hiring is maybe the best way to know who will do best.

      But in some one-time jobs, it can be difficult to know who will do best. I mean jobs like ecover design, sales page copy etc.

      How could I do a test-hire in these one-time jobs?

      And should I mention in the job post that I will take a test-hire, or give some test-tasks with the most actual candidates?
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