Tips for hiring your first assistant

The Voice of Your Customer is a marketing consulting firm located in Cincinnati, Ohio. I founded the business in 2007, and I realized that I needed administrative support soon after the first contract was secured.

As a marketing consultant, I excelled at developing strategies, designing creative content and cultivating clients. I was not good at formatting reports, preparing for client meetings and managing internal documents. I immediately contracted with a virtual assistant to ensure that my documents and presentations appeared professional and comparable to larger, more established firms. Soon thereafter, I realized that many of my calls were going to voice mail, I was not providing the best service to my clients and my internal documents were not being properly managed.

This is when I decided that I needed at least a part-time administrative assistant. Within weeks, I realized that while I did not believe that there was enough work for a full-time administrative assistant, the stress of managing a part-time person outweighed the cost of a full-time person.

Here are my tips for hiring your first assistant:

1) If you think that you need an administrative assistant, you are probably right. If your documents are not professionally prepared or you are not providing outstanding customer service, you need an administrative assistant!

2) Consider contracting with a virtual assistant if you do not believe that you have enough work for a full-time associate

3) Understand the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a part-time vs. a full-time administrative assistant

4) Draft a job description that clearly outlines the responsibilities, required skills and desired experiences for your administrative assistant (hiring someone who successfully worked at another small business ensures that the candidate understands the “all hands on deck” working environment)

5) Contact your local government job placement center to identify experienced candidates and explore job training initiatives that pay all or some portion of your employee’s salary and/or training programs

6) Contact your accountant to determine if your firm is eligible for tax incentives for hiring qualified persons

7) Ask a friend who works in Human Resources to interview your candidates for personality and fit with the company

8) Contract with a staffing agency to test the selected candidate for Microsoft Office, QuickBooks (bookkeeping) and critical thinking skills

9) Run a national background check on any candidate you do not know personally

10) Once the employee is hired, be sure to allocate time and resources for initial and long-term training and development as it usually takes several months for the administrative assistant to effectively work independently

Submitted by Crystal L Kendrick, President, Voice of Your Customer

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