2017 was a challenging year for the Au Pair community with a 55% drop in applications across the board. These challenges look set to continue in 2018.
As the Brexit debates continue and the future relationship between the UK and Europe remains uncertain, combined with the negative publicity surrounding the case of Sophie Lionnet, the French Au Pair murdered in London (her host family are on trial this week) and the series of terror attacks, the amount of young people choosing England as their destination to be an Au Pair has been significantly affected in favour of different destinations. Pebbles are here to help you increase your chances of finding an Au Pair this year.
1. Start by preparing the best application possible
This takes time, but for so many reasons is the first thing you should do to ensure you find the right Au Pair for your family. Whilst it takes time now, it means you will have a better selection of candidates who have already understood what you’re looking for so you spend less time interviewing and where the chance of a successful placement is much higher and therefore save you time in the long run.
Take time to understand the changing market : Understanding the new generation of Millennial Au Pairs and check out our guidelines “How to make your host family application stand out”
2. Change criteria from “dealbreaker” to “nice to have”
Review your criteria, arrange interviews with candidates who don’t match perfectly to give yourself more choice. Don’t compromise on things that are really important to you, but maybe change some of your essential criteria to just preferences.
If you end up with an Au Pair who meets them all, that’s great but some flexibility will give you more choice and chance of finding the right match.
3. Flexible dates & shorter durations
Sourcing and training an Au Pair can be time consuming. However, considering candidates available shorter term is a surefire way of increasing the choice of candidates without compromising on quality – there’s also much less competition.
We have candidates available any time during the year for a 6 month period, you will have to source and retrain however with shorter placements, there’s more chance the Au Pair will complete their contract and maintain motivation and enthusiasm over a shorter period.We have adapted our methods of payment for this and families now have the option to pay monthly. Therefore taking on more than one candidate in a year is no longer a more expensive option.
Are you able to wait a week or 2 for the right person? Lots of families won’t consider anyone starting after the school year has started, if you can juggle for a week or two you’ll have access to more candidates.
4. Social smokers
Considering accepting an Au Pair who occasionally smokes. Whilst we understand our families preference for non smokers, smoking is a lot less taboo in continental Europe and therefore more common. We will only accept applications from very light smokers.
They are briefed on the cultural differences and sign a commitment to do this so discretely that that the family never sees any evidence of this (never in your home/ in front of your children). This is a deal breaker for many families and therefore there’s less competition for these candidates despite the smoking having no negative effect on their ability to be a good Au Pair.
5. English level
Consider candidates with a lower English level than initially desired. We understand that you need to be able to communicate with your au pair to explain the role and ensure that your children are safe. However, Au Pairs are choosing to be Au Pairs to improve their English. Therefore we are encouraging our host families to consider taking an au pair with a basic level of English.
We are sure that once they are with your family, their English will improve rapidly. Perhaps contribute to their English lessons to help them progress more quickly?
6. Male Au Pairs
We ask our host families to be more open minded in who they consider taking. This includes considering welcoming a boy as an au pair. Whilst you may feel more at ease having a girl look after your children, we have successfully placed boys as au pairs many times and they can be a good fit for your family and the success rate is very high!
7. Making a decision fast
You’re keen on a profile you’ve received? Call them that night or the next at the latest! After that it may already be too late….
You’ve spoken to a great candidate? Sign them up immediately ! Last year we had a lot of disappointed families who preferred to take more time to think things over and inevitably lost out to other families. We recommend interviewing, making an offer and signing the contract/paying the fee within 48-72 hours of receiving an interesting application.
How to be sure they’re right and not rush in to a decision? Set aside some time to carry out several interviews in a short period (2-3 days), show them round the house, call their references if you wish, check out their social media profile etc. Get a maximum amount of information in a short space of time to help you make an informed decision.Some families prefer to meet their Au Pair before deciding.
Given the context, we encourage you to make this happen within a week of the interview. You will also be asked to pay a non refundable deposit to the agency in order to hold the Au Pair. This is deducted from the fee if you decide to take the candidate on or if you find another Au Pair through Pebbles in the same season. If you do not end up taking on a Pebbles Au Pair, this fee is non refundable.
8. Avoid waiting to compare candidates simultaneously.
Given the circumstances, we are not able to guarantee that you can interview several similar candidates within a short time frame. You may find that you interview a candidate then wait a week or two before another suitable candidate comes through and unfortunately the first candidate is likely to have been placed already. Once you have interviewed a few, you will hopefully feel confident enough to make a decision on the basis of one candidate at a time.
If you are able to be more flexible on the criteria you will have more chance of speaking to more than one candidate at a time.Whilst we understand the importance of choosing the right Au Pair for your family and that you will have preferences and a desired profile for your Au Pair. In this difficult time we are asking our host families to widen their criteria. While we understand that you are pressed for time, we advise our families to consider interviewing more candidates and being slightly more flexible.
9. Asking your current Au Pair to take part in the recruitment process
If you’d like your current Au Pair to be part of the process, please go ahead, we think it’s a great idea!
However, you as the family should make the first call and your Au Pair the follow up one to show you’re committed to the process and genuinely interested in the Au Pair.
Last year we had some host families arrange for their Au Pair to make the first call, with the aim to speak to them afterwards. However, in the meantime another family interviewed the same candidate and the Au Pair accepted before the first host family even got to speak to them !
10. Let the potential Au Pair AND the agency know when you’re interested
Follow up on any interviews with an email summarizing what you’re offering and confirming your interest.
Let the agency know straight away if you’re very keen, we can help accelerate the process for you so you don’t miss out.
Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to finding your next Au Pair !