Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hiring a Good Administrative Assistant via Craigslist

Over on The Facebook, there's a discussion about who your first hire should be. I have long advocated hiring an administrative assistant as your first hire. Two questions arose from that. First, how do we find qualified people at a low price? And, second, how do I find them on Craigslist?

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Here's the reality of the marketplace: There are LOTS of very qualified people who are willing to work 15-20 hours per week at just-above minimum wage. When minimum wage was $8/hr I paid $10 for Administrative Assistants just starting out. Now that the minimum wage is $10, I pay $12.

Many of these folks are "stay at home" parents with kids in school. They drop the kids off in the morning and are available to work until mid-afternoon most days. Then they need to go pick up the kids. Another big group is college students with very flexible schedules. The remainder are mostly people who would love to work full time but are happy to start half-time.

Of course I have only hired in Sacramento, CA over the last 22 years. But in that time, I've seen the economy go up, down, and sideways. And through it all, I've always found a huge pool of very talented people who are willing to work part-time for a couple of dollars above minimum wage. I have frequently had three or four administrative assistants at once. The amount of work they can make disappear is phenomenal.

The next question is, how do you get the quality applicants without slogging through 150 resumes? That's a matter of screening people before you collect resumes. Below is the ad I've crafted for this. Here's how it works:

1) Place the ad on Craigslist or a similar site.

2) If someone responds with a resume, move the message to an email folder labeled \Admin\No
 - and reply to their message by simply saying "Please re-read the ad."

3) If someone responds with an actual written paragraph, as requested,
 a) Read the paragraph
 b) If you like the paragraph, ask them to send a resume
 c) Move the message to an email folder labeled \Admin\Maybe

This should get you about 5-10 candidates who can follow instructions, write a coherent paragraph, and have shown some flexibility.

Notice also that this ad is not intended to attract middle management secretaries earning $50-$60K per year who just want to type correspondence. This ad says you might be asked to run errands, manage mailing projects, and even fill my car with gas.

Truth be told, I think I might have asked my office manager to put gas in my car once somewhere along the line, but that's not really what I expect AA's to do. I only put it in there because I want this ad to reflect the fact that you have to be prepared to work. As you know, in small business everyone needs to pitch in as needed. So you don't need a prima donna who says that's not her job.

The Ad:

- - - - -

"Person Friday" 
Part Time Administrative Assistant and Personal Assistant
Start out 15 to 20 hours per week - with luck will grow to more.

Note: Please read through this ad and do not send a resume unless requested to do so. We will not look at unsolicited resumes.

General Job Duties: 
- Run Errands
- Help in coordinating mail campaigns (monthly & special projects)
- Inventory office supplies
- Set-up appointments with clients following set guidelines
- Update forms
- Copying
- Make bank deposits
- Prepare payroll
- Get the mail
- Sort the mail
- Prepare sales materials 
- Typing
- Mailing packages 
- Monitor chargeable and non-chargeable hours
- Filing / sorting
- Misc. Research projects
- Make coffee
- Whatever else is needed. 

Personal duties include getting coffee, filling car with gas, get lunch for in-house meetings, shop for supplies, etc. 

- Must have experience with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel 
- Must be good with details
- Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills 
- Good verbal and written skills 
- Must have reliable car to run errands as needed
- Must have clean DMV record

Send your paragraphs to [email protected] 

Compensation: $12/hr 

Special Notes:
We place a strong emphasis on Top Quality, Experience, and Customer Service. 

Do not send a resume until requested to do so. We will not look at unsolicited resumes.

To apply for this position, send the following in response to this ad:
 - 1-2 paragraph description of why you would be an Amazing Administrative Assistant for us.
 - Some of those who respond will be asked to submit resumes.

We are looking for a long-term employee who will grow with the company.

This position is in Sacramento, CA. Please only apply if you are in the Sacramento area or plan to move to the area.

- - - - -

What About Virtual Assistants?

I currently have one "permanent" part-time Virtual Assistant or VA (my sister in-law). I also hire three different VAs to do specific tasks such as book layouts or tedious work in QuickBooks.

But I also have a part part AA who comes to my office. I think I will always have a real AA because there is some work that just can't be done remotely. If you go look up my original blog about the $200 Miracle, you'll see that the comments are filled with angry VA trolls beating me up because I insist that I have a real AA who actually shows up at my office.

I left those comments up because they illustrate many of the things that can be done remotely.

But I know from running multiple businesses for 22 years that some stuff just can't be done by a VA in another state or country. Period. Plus, as the testiness of some of those comments suggest, you need to make sure you hire someone whose temperament represents your company well.

The Bottom Line: Hire An Assistant!

This process has worked for me time and time again. You'll get 5-10 legitimate resumes from people who are sincere and eager and ready to work. You'll also get 15-25 resumes from people who do not read the ad and simply carpet bomb the internet with a generic resume. Add them to the "No" folder and don't waste your time.

But whatever you do, please hire an administrative assistant or virtual assistant. They really will take away massive amounts of work and make your life better.

Comments welcome - even from trolls.



  1. I'd suggest removing the line "Send your resume to [email protected]" from the "Qualifications" section ... instructions are conflicting. But I like the idea!

  2. Good point Will. Changed to Send your paragraphs.
    thank you.

    1. Do you actually post an email address in the body of the post? Wouldn't you expose yourself to phishing and spam?

  3. If it's Craigslist, you can set up an alias so it's something like [email protected].
    But I have no problem exposing the [email protected] since it is basically never used except for this.
    After about 25 years in the business, it hasn't been a problem.


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