Yesterday we got this email from an au pair candidate who is very excited about finding a family. She asks:
How could I be selected as an au pair as soon as possible?
I offered her a little advice, and I’d love to hear what you all might suggest…
Hi I’m Shannon from (Southeast Asia), I am 20 years old and a university student.I’ve just applied to an au pair agency in the USA — I sent an application to that au pair agency a few weeks ago. I’m really sorry to send this email but I dont know what I’m gonna do please understand me and give me some advices. How could I be selected as an au pair as soon as possible ?
Thanks for your email— on AuPairMom.com we don’t have any connections to the au pair agencies, so we don’t have the ability to help directly with getting you into your agency’s system or for getting you matched quickly. But here are some ideas….
1. Be sure to complete all of the paperwork, interviews, and health exams that your agency application requires, as promptly as you can. The sooner your application is complete, the sooner you can get into the matching process.
2. Talk to your local recruiter or agency representative and ask her what you can do to move your application along quickly.
3. Take some driving lessons. The #1 reason that host families hesitate to match with candidates from Southeast Asian countries is that many au pairs from these countries really don’t know how to drive safely and well. Get some additional driving practice with different kinds of cars, and in different kinds of driving situations. If you usually drive in the countryside, practice in a city. If you’ve rarely driven on a highway, ask someone to coach you on highway driving. If you can get a real, bona fide driving school instructor to evaluate and certify your driving skills, that would be especially helpful.
Driving skill is important to 3 out of 4 host families, and if you are able to demonstrate that you have worked hard to become a good driver, that might make people more likely to consider matching with you.
4. Prepare information about yourself that communicates who you are, what you are looking for, how you handle new situations, and what kinds of childcare you’ve done. Carefully prepare any materials that your agency requests — letters to host families, application information, and so on– so that you communicate as much about yourself as truthfully as possible. Parents want a sense of the ‘real you’, not some ‘perfect you’ — so be honest. Consider posting information on your own blog site (like Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr), on your facebook page, or even putting your own video on YouTube.
5. Prepare yourself for your au pair interviews. By this I don’t mean that you should practice responses so that your spoken English seems perfect. What I mean is– make sure you know what the au pair job is, what the exchange experience is like, and what families are looking for. If you are very clear about what the au pair job is, if you know what kind of family you are looking for, and if you offer a lot of information about yourself to help potential families get to know you, this might be helpful.
You should look at AuPairMom posts on interviewing and matching, and see what kinds of concerns host parents have, and what things they are looking for.
6. When a host family contacts you by email or phone, respond right away. Even if you are away for the weekend, or busy with classes, let the family know you got the email and suggest a time that you can connect. Don’t let the email sit there for a day or two, or three, while you think of something to say.
7. If you share a phone with family or friends, let them know (once your application is in the matching pool) that you are expecting contacts from American host families. Many of us have left phone message after phone message with a relative of an au pair candidate, and never heard from the candidate. Even if the opportunity is not right for you, get back to the host family immediately and let them know.
8. If you have any special skills or talents to offer a host family, let your recruiter know... just in case there is a family that really needs what you have to offer.
I don’t know for sure if this will make a difference, but it seems worth a try.