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Recruiting an au pair - Should I use an agency or not?

(8 Posts)
pmac Thu 09-Oct-08 19:59:14

Hello. I'm trying to recruit an au pair (for Dec / Jan)for the first time. I'm trying to understand whether it's worth using an agency or whether it's a case of paying a fee for something that's easy to do yourself. I'm afraid I'm one of those people that researches too much and am now totally confused.....blush. Any advice appreciated.

DadInsteadofMum Thu 09-Oct-08 20:59:45

There have ben several threads on this and it is fair to say opinion is divided. I do it myself. Of those that do everybody seems to use au pair world and then a few others have been recommended (I use new au pair as well).

It is a bit of a faff and not for the thin skinned as you have to deal with a lot of rejection, but it is hard to see how the agency justify their fees.

And the au pair horror stories (and again there a few around) seem to be as likley with agency or DIY.

Nighbynight Thu 09-Oct-08 21:31:04

Au Pair world is not an agency, it is a database.

you have to choose between an agency (several hunderd pounds fee?) and a database (fee c 25 pounds)

I used APW for some years, then I noticed that the average length of stay was less than 6 months. A friend also chucked them for the same reason.

Now I am using an agency. But I might go back to APW in the future if I get fed up with them.
I think its much harder to recruit APs in the UK, because your list of permitted countries is so limited. In germany, you can get an ap from any country, as long as your mother tongue is not the same as theirs.

chloeb2002 Thu 09-Oct-08 22:36:17

hi therim a bit like nighby night. we have just recruited through an agency. almondbury. i was struggling to find anyone willing to commit to longer tahn 3 months on the databases. and then would have faced paying another fee to find another. with almondbury i pay to find someone then payt for 12 months. its not cheap but i know if this girl wants to move on im sure i will find another. and i have found her within 3 weeks and she is really sorted and keen.
so for us its worth the fee. depends if you need the continuity maybe? or can afford breaks in au pairs

cheapskatemum Thu 09-Oct-08 22:59:01

I don't use agencies any more because of my last, bad experience with Smart Au Pairs. The fact that you need a Jan/Feb start is not in your favour. Agencies have few girls on their books at this time of year (despite their protestations to the contrary!), so you have less choice and could be coerced into compromise (eg accept a smoker, when you'd far rather have a non-smoker). There seems to me to be far more choice of girls on website databases, such as aupairworld and greataupairs. TBH I haven't noticed a lack of girls wanting to stay more than 6 months. That said, I find 6 months is quite a good length of stay for all parties: parents, children, APs.

Kathyis6incheshigh Fri 10-Oct-08 08:49:40

I've just (au pair arrived last week!) used an agency as it's our first time - I can imagine doing it myself via the web in the future when I have more of an idea of what I'm doing.

I like knowing we have the back-up of the agency in case anything goes wrong or we have questions about what's reasonable.

The agency we used (Brick Au Pairs) is very specialised - it recruits Hungarian au pairs for the north of England!

It was about £300 which saved us a mass of time as we didn't have to look through 100s of cvs or send out lots of emails that never got answered. They sent us 2 profiles of which one looked perfect and she has turned out to be just as nice as she sounded.

They justify their fee by the fact that they actually go to Hungary and interview the girls themselves, so you can talk to someone who has actually met them. They also give them an English test and check and translate references.

I also tried an agency which just has connections with lots of agencies in different countries and was not so impressed with them. I also would not touch with a bargepole any agency that asks for money upfront just to register.

You could ring up a couple of agencies for a chat and quiz them about what they're offering? It might also be that if you're quite mainstream - eg in London, where most of the ones on the web seem to want to be - it's easier to use the web than if you're in the sticks or different in some other way - when I looked on the web I could hardly see anyone who wanted to come to where we live!

pmac Mon 13-Oct-08 15:41:26

hello! thanks for all your advice & tales of good & bad experiences. it's confirmed that it's a bit of a minefield and you have to get lucky. i think i'll probably use an agency in this case as it will be the first time i have recruited an au pair. once i have a better idea of the process, i'll probably try recruiting directly.

Badpups Mon 13-Oct-08 18:29:47

I've tried both and haven't had any luck with the websites so have always had to use an agency.
I suspect that it's because we aren't an "ideal" family for an au pair - i.e. 3 young children and 3 dogs! Also we don't live in London or by the sea which is where many APs seem to want to be.

I agree that the risks are probably the same regardless of the route you take provided you follow up references etc.

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