Recruiting first au pair(24 Posts)
Looking for some advice for recruiting our first au pair please! I have posted on au pair world and am getting a lot of initial interest but unsure how to proceed.
We are looking for an au pair to provide before and after school care for our 5, 10 and 13 year old ( although 13 year old needs no help and gets to school and back independently) and to walk the dog. The hours would be Monday 2-6.30pm, Tues to Thurs 8-10am (to include dog walk) and 2-6.30pm and Friday morning 8-10am only so 26 hours with Friday from 10am free and all weekend free. We live in a big town on the south coast with lots of language schools and au pair would have really big bedroom and own bathroom.
Can anyone advise how they have proceeded on au pair world? I have seen an info sheet suggested - what do you include in this? And can I just sense check what reasonable pay/pocket money for an au pair is (outside of London)?
Many thanks for any advice!
Personally, I would suggest you get an au pair who has been an au pair previously. Be very prescriptive in what you want them to do, explain what their schedule is, i.e. up at 7am, prepare breakfast. i.e. the dog is walked for 1 hour every day. Snack ready for when they return from school, tidy up after breakfast etc. Do they need to drive? what is their driving experience. Be clear about what their package is (sorry can't help with au pair salary outside London), do you provide a travel card, are they allowed use of the family car, do you provide a sim card, do you pay for language lessons and how much. Do you pay additional if you need hours worked outside of their 30 hrs, how much ? Will you ever need weekend babysitting, how much notice do you plan on giving them if you need them to work a weekend. etc.
Thanks Alpha. Would you send an info sheet with the typical schedule and package and then set up Skype interviews in response to those who express interest? I have interest from a couple of au pairs who have au paired before...anything else to look out for? I do need them to drive - and they will have use of the car for their own purposes during the day - so I am also focussing on slightly older au pairs as otherwise the insurance is pricey.
For aupairs who have been aupairs before, check the reason they left their previous host family and how long they were with them. If they were there for 3 months or less and are not able to provide a reference from that family or a good reason why they cannot, I assume they did not part on good terms in which case avoid. Don't do aupair rescue - not worth the risk.
All my aupairs who did not work out (i.e. not instant failures but those that had to be performance managed) usually left after 3-4 months. It is better if they stayed for at least 6 months.
Good point blueshoes. I will definitely check.
On aupairworld, I get lots of speculative interest from aupairs in countries (South America, Asia) etc which do not have a right to work in the UK. I stick to EU aupairs to avoid any visa issues.
For Aussie, Kiwi or South Africans, I would ask about an ancestral visa.
There may be other nationalities but I don't generally want to faff with visas because it can be hit and miss whether the aupair works out. I don't think it is worth the hassle to invest too much time and effort upfront. Don't offer to pay any money for their flights here either. You probably know that, just sensible reminder.
I've advertised for EU as it seemed easier in terms of visa .... and also I can understand their motivation to live with a family to learn the language whereas I wasn't sure what was in for Aussies etc!
Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans have a great time, but you are right, unless you are near a big city, the motivation may be less clear especially if they need a car to get around.
Very few of my aupairs (London) actually did any English lessons, even though many said they were here to improve their English. They most just went out socialising or travelling around the country on weekends. I don't tend to hire aupairs with poor English, as I work ft outside the home and need to be able to communicate with them on the phone. Nowadays with whatsapp, that is not so much of an issue. Something to think about.
Also, if you have older children, they will find poor English more of a barrier to bonding than a very young child - older children are tougher customers!
I'll be full time from August hence the au pair. I hope I'll be able to gauge english in a face-time/skype interview.
Have your au pairs driven your car? I need mine to drive the kids to school and back and am wondering how much it will add to the premium if they are young! Any tips?
My advice on aupairworld is to prioritise those who reply to you with a personalised message. Helps sift through them and demonstrates they have a genuine interest in your family (and confidence in writing English). Good luck!
My aupairs don't drive our car as I structure the school run (including choice of schools and house when we were buying) to be done on foot. I appreciate that is possible in London. I am guessing you could call your insurance company or any insurance broker to ask about the increased premium. If I were you, I would book the aupair on as driving familiarisation course with an instructor as they would be usually be used to driving on the other side of the road - roundabouts would be particularly important to make sure they are confident about if they are on the school run route.
The other thing which most of our aupairs don't do very well is cooking. That works for us because dh and I do most of the cooking anyway. The aupair is not likely to be that good at preparing meals beyond simple food for the dcs like heating stuff in the microwave or oven or perhaps a simple pasta. Best to be prepared to teach them how to cook, if that is part of their duties.
Certainly, as part of the interview process, you should give them a timetable and summary of their duties, which would include things like childcare, school run, cleaning and cooking.
I've found au pairs who have been au pairs before tend to have higher expectations and want more money.
Our best au pairs have been those who have never lived away from home before. I'd also recommend those in their mid 20s.
I'd second the fact that they don't cook very well. I cook a meal for me and DH with enough left over for the children to have the next day reheated. They eat before I get home from work.
I'd consider a short contract initially, up to 6 months, as you will learn a lot about what you like and don't like, so you can be more specific with the next au pair.
Interesting - our only au pair who left early was in her mid-20s. The role just wasn't enough to keep her going. Ours now is a similar age and also very unmotivated when it comes to work. I am going back to German school leavers next year.
I would consider hiring an AP with prior experience if they'd been a summer AP but I would also very carefully vet someone already in England, leaving a family. I'm sure there are reasonable situations out there (someone losing their job) but a family that wants rid but feels bad could well give you a good reference. Whatever you do, don't take one on that can't/won't give a reference. 99% the sob story is BS.
I second the detailed schedule (still doesn't always work) and low cooking expectations. Give them the list of 'house rules' after they've arrived and you've taken the measure of them. The first few years I made the mistake of amending them to reflect the person that had just left; in reality, the new au pair would end up not doing some of the things that didn't work for us but other things that we needed to address. Or they arrive in England and you discover their boyfriend is working across town and she wants him to sleep over every weekend and you need to make sure the visitors rules are rock solid. Whatever it is. Best to get a feel for them first and 'confirm' the house rules after the settling in week.
Interesting OVienna. I have to say I am drawn to the german school leaver profiles - they seem eager and willing to please - but I think I'll be stuffed with car insurance with them.
Also bear in mind that 'I eat everything' means they eat everything in their home country, usually. They may be less as adventurous when they get to you. Also, bear in mind flight costs to and from home. Ours is currently flying home at Easter and she is shocked by the prices of flights (family is from a destination very popular with British tourists.
OVienna - do they pay for their own flights home for holidays? I was thinking I might offer a return ticket home for each 6 month period as an extra.
I haven't to date. But it can be a good gesture.
Regarding English lessons, which also comes up, I wouldn't pay for these outright but offer either a payment/a contribution to payment after they've been with you. LIke a bonus for completing the course. That way, they are motivated to go. However, if you don't pay you can't ask them to miss the class, for example if the children are sick.
I am talking to an au pair from Madagascar who seems really nice and says she can get a visa - does this sound ok? or is there something I am missing?
Consider getting a Male au pair. Not many families want them but we had a few when my son was young (I was a single parent). I had about 10 au pairs in total including a couple who only lasted a week or two, and the top 3 by far where the male ones.
They normally had a girlfriend being an au pair locally and therefore they wanted to work as well. The girlfriends often stayed at weekends (this was with my permission) and they both still interacted with my son. It worked very well for me.
Shouting - no, she's wrong. Unless she can get an EU passport, through an EU born parent. She potentially could get a student visa, but that would only allow her to work 10 hours with a language course or 20 hours if it was a full degree course.
Generally, only au pairs from the EU or Canada/Australia/NZ (Tier 5 VISA) or Commonwealth countries who have a grandparent born in the UK (Ancestry VISA) are able to come and au pair here.
OP - If you want a driver you need someone over 22 who has been driving over 3 year. Only one of our au pairs have ever been an au pair before and we've had no major problems with any of them.
I insist on a language course as it gets them out of the house and their English improves faster, but as OVienna says, only offer to pay towards it. I've never paid for a flight home before, but I do give a bonus on completion of "contract".
Underneath - that was what I thought, but she said she had worked in Germany before. and that she has an appointment at the embassy today. I think the lesson here is to trust my gut...
Most EU countries do have au pair schemes that allow a range of nationalities to au pair without the usual visa restrictions.
We currently don't.
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