First Off let us state we love working with Filipinos, love the culture and love living here just in case you get the wrong idea from this post!
Outsourcing some of your business tasks to The Filipinos can be very rewarding and hugely beneficial no matter what type of business you are jamming on. Hiring a young smart talented Filipino can boost your business through the roof if done correctly. Yeah we all know this is a fact and we have heard it all before so many times before. We are here on the ground hustlin every day with these guys and we wouldn’t change a thing, we love working with our team and love being able to provide these guys a good stable income. These guys help us every day to achieve more. So how in the world do you find a super smart Filipino anyway? More importantly how do you avoid the VA’s out there that are unreliable and never complete the tasks given to them. These VA’s can not only waste your time but also your money. We have had many experiences with them and it really blows me away how they can be so smart and talented but not seem to care about doing the work. We have given a project to someone on our team with the freedom to be creative and do his thing but all he did was sleep…… We caught him sleeping 5+ times.
We have worked with so many VA’s here in The Philippines directly and have interviewed hundreds of potential candidates. Some of these people we interviewed were less than amazing and to be honest they should have not made it to the interview stage…Yes this is our own fault but in meeting all these people it has given us a better definition on what is a quality candidate and what is not. And let me say right now we have in the past hired some terrible staff that slept on the job, didn’t care about their job had little to no skills, were untrustworthy, and just in general just sucked! I’m so happy to say all these people no longer work for us and hope the next company to hire these people know what they are in for. I wish them the best of luck but anyway now things are changing for us. We seem to have a more stable crew that do a great job for us and we would want to keep working for our company as long as possible. These guys are smart, talented awesome guys and we love to have them in our team. Without these people would not be in such a good position we are in today.
Anyone who has any sort of experience hiring a Filipino either online form outside The Philippines or directly here in The Philippines have more than likely come across some of the following issues that make it such a difficult task to hire a Filipino virtual assistant…
- They almost never respond to their email that they check once a year. Facebook is often seems to be a better way of getting in contact as they are on it on a daily basis. We actually usually call or text our candidates and arrange a time to talk online or tell them to check their email.
- They tell you they will be there for an interview, then don’t show up because of “too much traffic” or “their pet goldfish died” or better still no excuse at all.
- They tell you they want the job and are 100% committed to your business … then pull out at the last minute.
- Sometimes it feels like a numbers game email/text 500 candidates and 10 will get back to you. of those 10 just 5 will complete a test and 3 will come for the actual interview.
- Most the smart/talented guys seem to already be in a stable job where their employer values them. The other smart talented guys know that they are exactly that and unless you’re a high paying company in a super sweet office with all the philippines benefits, They may not want to work for you and your small business.
- Finding any candidate that really believes in your company, what it stands for and that wants to work for just you and your company is next to impossible.
- Meeting the candidates in a personal interview can be SO different to what you see in their resume or via a chat on skype. As the case when hiring anyone in any country really but here often they can be confident on a call on Skype or chat and then when they meet you in person they will hardly say a word. Here they call it getting a “nose bleed” when meeting a foreigner and trying to speak English. But often A skype call is enough to work out if they will have this problem or not.
Here is a few graphs to show you some of the data we have collected
So as you can see the results are not the best and It’s so strange that this happens in a country with such a high unemployment rate. You would think they would be jumping all over a job with us as we are good, easy going employers that pay above minimum wage and actually care about our staff. We are happy that we are at least making a small difference in employment here in The Philippines and only wish some of these guys we interview were as passionate as we are. We see everyday the often extreme poverty here and want to give back to the community for example we started a Kiva team a while back.
Improving Our Process- You Should Improve Yours
We are focusing on improving our process substantially and weeding out all as many candidates as possible. This a process that we have been working on over time and heavily involves the work of an actual Filipino VA our HR manager. We cannot do all the work in this process we need the majority of the work to be done by our HR manager otherwise we would spend all our days posting jobs and doing initial interviews…. we would get nowhere fast doing this. We have actually been looking for a new HR the last few weeks so we can improve this process we want their main focus to be “recruitment” as it can end up costing us money not finding staff. We often find ourselves looking for the staff ourselves when we get a new client to make sure we actually get the best staff as soon as possible.
Where to find quality candidates?
One of the best places we use is JobStreet. This is where the best candidates seem to hang out because this is the same place the best companies hang out. This is fairly expensive to use and you need to be a Philippines company so if your looking for a freelancer this is not a good place to look. These guys seem to be more serious and committed to finding a full time job with a reliable company not unreliable freelance work they may get on Odesk.
John did a full post on the best places to look for virtual assistants on the web. This is the best place to start if you are looking to get started with a virtual assistants. it is a great resource to help you find quality applicants.
Weed Out Poor Candidates
Its super important you weed out the bad candidates as soon as possible in the process whatever method you are using. One was you can start off right from the beginning is putting something like this in the job advertisement “so I know you have read this job advertisement fully please add purple monkey into your response”. This is a well known tactic and is very useful for getting rid of people that apply for anything they see rather than someone who is interested in your position. The next way is to include some sort of testing in the process we have used an english test like this one as a good place to start but there are also many others you could use or job specific tests. You could also make your own specific test using a google form which sorts the data for you right into a spread sheet.
You really want to create shortlist so you are only have to look at the minimum amount of resumes. If you where to go through everyone’s resume that applies for a job post you may be doing it for weeks. You also need to hone in your skills of quickly judging if a candidate is quality or not just by scanning over the resume. obviously the less candidates you have the more time you can spend on each one but this is an important skill to have when recruiting.
We now do all final interviews for all candidates on Skype via a call. Before we where doing it in our office in a personal interview but
now we are much more virtual. Myself and John will usually only do this if its for an internal position (like the new HR or project manager) but for most positions with clients we would not usually do this ourselves. Its best to use a pre set of questions so the interview is stable so you stay on track and focused. Here are a few sample questions we use in interviews-
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want to work here and why should we hire you?
- Do you know anything about our company?
- What do you know about the functions/tasks of the said position?
- Tell me more about the working experiences you had.
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What did you enjoy most about your last job and what did you enjoy the most about working there?
- Why should we hire you?
- What’s the most difficult situation you ever faced on the job?
- Do you prefer working with others or alone? how well do you work with others?
- What are your strong points and What are your weak points?
- Tell me your top skills.
- What kind of hours are you used to working?
- How flexible are you in terms of working at night and during holidays?
- How long would you stay with us if we hired you and what are your career goals?
- what are your salary expectations?
Our HR Manager
Here are the main steps we take and what we have our HR manager do to insure we get the top candidates-
- Get the main requirements from our client from a questionnaire.
- Come up with a complete job description stating exactly what job needs to be done and how the person will do it.
- Use the data base we already have and the staff we already have to see if we have a suitable candidate.
- If we have no suitable candidate for the position already then we need to post the job all over the place depending on the position. Jobstreet, onlinejobs, best jobs odesk and so on. Its better to have people apply rather than searching through thousands of resumes and contacting them as this takes too long and usually the candidates contacted are not interested.
- Create a shortlist by sending the best candidates a test.
- After receiving test results (different for every position) the HR can then go ahead and set up interviews or start chatting to the candidates via Skype.
- The final candidate is then chosen after doing the final interview with the candidates.
How To Best Fix This Problem
We want to help more guys out there get a job working online and we want to help more entrepreneurs find the best possible VA so we started a recruitment only service RemoteStaffRecruit where we do the horrendous task of hiring a Filipino VA for people to lazy or short on time. If you don’t want your VA managed by a company here in The Philippines or want to spend the time looking for your own VA then the best way really (aside from flying here and doing it yourself) is just sign up with any number recruitment only services out there. However If you have never worked with a VA before and have some hours to spare I would recommend having a look at resumes and interviewing some staff yourself so you can get an overall feel of the candidates here and what its all about. Blindly handing the recruitment services to us or anyone else is probably a bad idea without knowing what you are getting yourself into. Generally I would say hire your own staff as you know your business better than anyone. Another point is to make is make sure you know exactly what you are after and how exactly your virtual assistant will “assist” you. So I just wanted to throw it out there the main way in which we are different from some of the other recruitment services out there-
- We have a lot of experience personally in working with VA’s.
- We interview all candidates personally via a skype call etc.
- We are cheaper than other providers
- We are actually here in The Philippines and are on the ground working with VA’s.
- We offer a replacement if we screwed up and gave you a VA your not happy with.
- Personal unique customer service…we are not a huge company with 1000 VA’s working for us so we actually give a dam about you and your business. We would even look into your business and see what your needs really are rather than just throw a VA at you with some good skills.
- More than happy to work with all clients if you have questions or any problems hit us up we won’t send your email to our PA we will answer is personally
- We offer higher affiliate commissions than other recruitment services.
- We also have remoteworkmate.com services if you want us to manage your virtual assistant.
Working With Your VA
Now you have your new virtual assistant you need to make sure you keep them happy and build a long term relationship with them so they dont throw in the towel after 2 weeks. This will waste you even more time as you will have to start this whole process all over again. So what can you do to keep your VA happier for longer? Here are a few quick tips to get you started.
- Pay them what they deserve. Pay them extra if they do a good job at the end of the day it might cost you a little more but if it stops them leaving its far better for you
- Treat them as a person. They are not just a robot completing your tasks they have the same needs wants and desires as anyone else .
- Pay them on time. Most VA’s will be waiting for your payment to arrive every payday and if its late it can cause big problems for them and their family
- Give them new challenges and but don’t give them tasks way beyond their skill set. Once again they are like anyone else and want to learn more and grow so let them. But don’t give them tasks they will never will be able to complete this will just embarrass them and may make them feel overall unhappy
- Be careful of sarcasm and culturaldifferences. They may not get what you mean if you say something like “ah what a bad design” when you really mean “its good”. they probably wont understand and once again upsetting them. Remember they are not a carbon copy of your western freelancers you have used in the past the culture is actually quite different.
- Build a relationship with your virtual assistant. They value relationships more than western people tend to and would stay longer with a boss they know and like over one who they don’t like. Where as a westerner may put up with a bad boss for the pay they would be less likely to.
Do you have experience working with virtual assistants from the Philippines? If so drop us a comment below and let us know how you found them, how you worked with them and if your experience was a positive or negative one.