You thought …
It sure would be great to have someone help me with my art business. Any old warm body will be better than nothing.
Boy! I am going to have all of this extra time to work on my art and I won’t have to do anything else. (Scene setup: I think you were smoking somethin’.)
So you hired an assistant to work in your studio or office. Either would be fine with you.
Hooray! Your first hire.
Fast forward to the inevitable:
Yikes! What was I thinking? This person can’t do anything right and I’m spending too much time teaching him.
Wait just one minute.
It’s not the employee’s fault if he’s not a good fit. It’s your fault because you didn’t hire correctly in the first place.
Assistants can’t do a good job if they don’t know what’s expected of them.
The onus is on you, the employer, to get super clear on the person you want and need to help your art career grow.
You won’t get the right person until you’re certain what you want from them.
So stop deluding yourself that any warm body will do. The any-warm-body mentality usually results in wasted time and money.
Use this outline to write an ad that helps you attract the perfect assistant.
Position Description & Duties
What, exactly, will this person be responsible for?
Some of the tasks you might hand over to an assistant might be:
- Running errands
- Writing correspondence
- Updating a website
- Posting to social media
- Designing graphics
- Tracking metrics
- Managing your schedule
- Packing or shipping
- Prepping material
Very few people will have everything you need, so hire and base your final job description on the candidate’s strengths.
For example, you might need social media help and admin help. You need a social person for the former and a detail person for the latter. It’s a lot to ask that one person fit both roles perfectly.
Hire to a person’s strengths, and then your new assistant can add responsibilities after learning the ropes.
What does a weekly assistant’s schedule look like?
Your posting should include:
- Hours (or range) per week
- Days required to work or flexibility on those
What must your new assistant know/have/do?
This is where you want to be very specific, and to know what is reasonable for one person to already know and what you are willing to train for.
You might require any of these:
- Grasp of specific technology (software, computer system, online apps)
- Competency in speaking and writing
- Attention to detail
- Adaptability to schedule changes and stressful situations
- Sensitivity to clients
Applicants don’t have to possess the bonus skills, but … dang! … it would be great if they did.
I find that these bonus skills usually involve technology, such as:
- Knowledge of a certain software
- Experience with specific apps, such as WordPress
- Basic grasp of HTML
- Social media experience
My assistant didn’t have much experience with these things, but I was willing to train and she was willing to search to find answers for herself. I hired right because she picked them up quickly.
I love it that she now knows more about much about our technology than I do. #sighofrelief
This is where you lay out the minimum required credentials and experience.
Define what candidates need by way of:
- Education degrees
- Work experience
Chances are slim that you’ll be offering healthcare or retirement accounts to an assistant, but you can still offer benefits.
Consider benefits in terms of:
- Work environment
- Flexible hours
- Paid holidays
- Paid or unpaid vacation
- Opportunity for growth, bonuses, and/or raises
You’d be surprised by how many people would rather have time off than extra pay.
How to Apply
Tell people exactly how to apply for the job. What do they need to include in the application? When is the deadline to apply?
In my experience, many people apply for positions without reading the requirements and instructions. This is a deal-breaker for me because it shows lack of regard for detail and for my needs.
I ask applicants to use a specific subject line when they apply. It’s a little test. If the subject line varies from my instructions, they aren’t paying attention to detail and miss the cut.
There are many other steps in the hiring process, but this level of clarity will go a long way to getting you the right person, not just another warm body.
Have you ever made a bad hire? What went wrong?
What has worked for you in the hiring process?