Thomas owned a successful manufacturing business in northern California. He was an experienced business owner who recognized he needed help to take off many of the lower level administrative details off his plate that were distracting him from the higher value work he needed to get down.
Here is the same 5-step process we suggested he use to bring on a winning assistant (disclosure: Thomas has been a business coaching client for going on six year.)
Step One: Get clear on you and the position.
What are the functional responsibilities you want this person to perform? (Keep a running list for a month or two of items on your to do list that you just never seem to have time for or that you'd otherwise love to hand off to a talented admin.)
How do you like to share information? For example, I'm an auditory delegator. I want to tell not type out the things I want my assistant to do. How about you? What is your preferred way of delegating? Sending a series of short texts? Talking on the phone? Sending an auditory message through an app like Voxer? Meeting in person?
How do you like to receive information? For example, I can read and take in visual information much faster than I can "hear" it, so I have my assistant do daily updates to our project management tool (currently we use Asana.)
Taking all of the above into consideration, what are your three to five "must haves" for your assistant? These are the three to five qualities, experiences, or technical skills for him or her to be successful as your assistant. Let your "must haves" drive the decision making process for you.
Step Two: Cast your recruitment net.
I encourage you to go long on your ad for the position. The right assistant will read every word. Lead with the most attractive part of the opportunity (from your potential assistant's perspective) then shift into who you're looking for, what they'll do, and what their next step is to apply. The ad template for hiring a great assistant we've encouraged our business coaching clients to use is roughly 2-3 pages long. But it has proven very effective.
One tip I've learned to help me screen for attention to detail is that I ask them to send their resume, cover letter, and salary history (allowed in my state) to me in one single pdf document. If they send it to me as three Word documents, or in the body of the email, I know they didn't pay attention and they are filtered out.
Step Three: Do a quick "resume sort".
Sorting resumes is not about finding the needle in the haystack, rather it's about clearing away as much hay as possible so the needles are much easier to spot.
Sort your applicants into A, B, and C stacks and toss all the B and C stacks! Only call back the "A" people.
Step Four: Do your initial phone screenings.
When I'm looking for an assistant I might call back 6-9 of the "A" resumes and spend 10-30 minutes with them on the phone. Again I'm not looking for the best assistant, I'm still screening out the ones that won't work for me. Perhaps they don't listen well. Or it's clear that they are too high drama. My goal is to find 3-5 solid candidates for the final round of interviewing.
Step Five: Put your top 3-5 candidates through a final round of in person interviews to make your best selection.
This final round may be one or two in person interviews. Where possible, include a second person in the interviews so they can take the lead asking questions which allows you to listen and observe without the pressure to respond and lead the conversation.
Make sure you let the "must haves" you determined in step one be the main guide as to which person you choose.
This process is simple yet incredibly effective. It helped Thomas find a great assistant who for over a year now has leveraged his time and helped him grow his business by over 30 percent last year.
If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.