Finding a family to live with for the next couple months (or year in my case) of your life can be very daunting. I had no idea where to even start. But luckily, I was able to find an AMAZINGLY PERFECT family and my whole process went very smoothly. Here are my top tips for becoming an au pair and finding the perfect family for you:
How to Become an Au Pair
Au Pair: Agency vs Matching Site
If you google “Au Pair matching site” you’re going to get TONS of results. Many that pop-up first are going to be websites for agencies. Agencies definitely have advantages to them. First, there are experts who know exactly what you need and can match you with credible families, so ultimately is probably the safest option. Most also offer local support in whatever host country you are going to. They also are able to help a lot with getting the right visa, travel docs, etc. BUT, they can cost hundreds of dollars.
Another way to go is through a free “matching” site, which is what I did. It’s essentially online dating, but for families and au pairs! If you have ever used Care.com, it’s a lot like that. I used the site AuPairWorld.com and had great success.
Create an Appealing Au Pair Profile
This is very important!! You want to make sure your profile shows potential families who you really are and why you’d make a great au pair. In my “Dear Family” letter, I laid out all my prior experience, and what makes me qualified to be an au pair. In the “About Me” section is where I did more on where I am from, personality, and likes/dislikes. And obviously, in the last section, I laid out why I wanted to be an au pair.
I think the pictures you include as part of your profile are important as well. Your profile pic should be of just you looking friendly and happy — no party pics! The rest of the photos could be with kids you’ve nannied or babysat for in the past. I also had a picture with my dog to show I love dogs and don’t mind pets. No previous experience? Show pictures of you doing things you enjoy!
Be Specific in Your Search Criteria
When I first started looking, I originally wanted to go to Spain or Italy, so that’s all I put in my “what I’m searching for”. But honestly, in Spain, I only really wanted to be in Barcelona or somewhere else on the coast.
I think a lot of times people keep the search super broad because they’re afraid that they won’t match with anyone if they’re too specific, but trust me, you will get families messaging you, and you will want to know exactly where you want to end up.
I did the same with Australia… Oz is huge, I was getting requests from families all over the country, and it was hard to keep everything straight. After researching, I decided I really wanted to be in Sydney which made narrowing down families a whole lot easier. So be SPECIFIC and know where you want to go before starting the process of finding a family.
Stick to Your Preferences
Don’t waver on criteria that you feel strongly about. For me, I didn’t feel comfortable working with disabled children because I don’t have any experience doing so and don’t feel I’m qualified enough. For you, it might be that you aren’t willing to help with housework. Make sure you are upfront with what you are and are not okay with.
I spent a year with my family, and I can tell you, it’s a long time! I had a wonderful experience but stick to what you will and won’t do. You don’t want to get halfway around the world and realize you have a big issue with the family.
Messaging Potential Au Pair Families
On AuPairWorld.com when you want to reach out to a family, it gives you the option of doing an automated message and just sending that. My suggestion would be to type up a brief summary of why you want to be an au pair and maybe add a sentence about why their profile grabbed your attention. It shows you actually care enough to put the time in to write a personal message.
Skype Interview Tips for Potential Au Pair Families
The next step in the process is to set up a skype or facetime interview. This might take some careful planning because, if like me, you’re looking to go overseas, the time change can be pretty drastic. When I set up a meeting with the Blake’s, it was 7 pm for them and 4 am for me! They felt bad having me up so early, but I honestly didn’t mind.
Remember these families have their schedule and their kid’s schedules to consider, so try and accommodate them as much as possible. Plus that shows that you’re willing to go out on an extra limb to help make their lives easier.
Keep in mind the position you’re interviewing for. Wear something that’s cute and professional, but doesn’t look too “stiff.” As for makeup, keep it light and natural, there is no need for heavy caked on makeup.
If you’re going to be skyping in your room, make sure it’s neat and tidy and nothing inappropriate in view. Mine was in the morning, but had it been at night, there’s a good chance I may have had a glass of wine on my bedside table… probably not the best first impression to give to a future employer who’s children you’re going to be watching.
How to Choose the Best Family to Au Pair For
So you’ve interviewed with a couple families or so… how do you decide who you’re going to spend the next couple months of your life with?! For me, it was a gut feeling. I knew I loved the Blake’s immediately. I had another interview scheduled for a couple days later, but I ended up canceling it and choosing them without interviewing with any other families. And they had the same feeling with me. At the end of our skyping, they told me they had a couple other interviews but would cancel them if I said yes! That’s exactly what I did a day and a half later, and the rest is history
I think you’ll definitely “just know” when you’ve found the family you want, but if not, then I’d weigh the pros and cons — and don’t just consider money. Something I really thought about when originally choosing families was how many kids, what kind of amenities they’d have for me to stay in, and also location. Use those kinds of factors to make the best choice for you.
Next Steps to Becoming an Au Pair
Let the Other Families Know
After you’ve made your decision, let the other families you’ve been talking to know that you’ve made a decision so they can continue on with their search.
Get Proper Documentation + Visas
Next, you need to look into getting the proper documentation for the country you’ll be going to. For me, it required me to get an Australian Work and Holiday visa. Au Pair World had info on what is required for all countries, so that’s a good resource.
Be prepared, applying for the visa can cost you some serious dough, mine was almost $500. Some host families may offer to help pay, but that isn’t the norm.
Book Your Travel
You also need to consider the cost of your flight. I was able to use credit card points, so my flight from Texas to Sydney only cost me around $200. Discuss with your host family when is best to fly in, times that are convenient for them, if you need to bring anything else, etc.
And then it’s time to go! Be sure to check out this post: list of what to pack when moving abroad.
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