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Job Descriptions and Functions: Butler-House Manager

The titles of Butler and House Manager (HM) are often interchangeable and can have the most varied meanings in the business. Interpretation is usually a result of the employer’s other staff and management structure, as well as their cultural background. Regardless of which title is chosen, the expected functions and abilities can be very similar.

In a more complex, single residence, the Butler or HM may be strictly administrative in their duties, like a localized version of the Estate Manager. For instance, a 30,000 square foot home’s service and maintenance needs rival a small hotel, and just the office based coordination of all elements fills a full time, high level job. We might then see a variation on the title to include Butler Administrator, or Administrative Household Manager.

Environment
Butlers and House Managers can be found in homes of all sizes depending on the service needs of the owners. A House Manager is more likely to be in charge of a single residential property and have a closer relationship to the personal services in a smaller home. It is not uncommon these days to see an HM employed by a busy family in a house under 5000 square feet in order to meet a high service expectation and relieve the owners of running the home. A Butler/HM that provides high levels of personal service might even live within the home or on the employer’s property.

Functions
The International Guild of Professional Butlers describes the duties of a Butler as follows:
“A Butler typically: Oversees the household staff usually of one residence. Understands concepts like being anticipatory, friendly not familiar, privacy and confidentiality, invisible and available. Answers residence phone, receives guests at the door and supervises the reception of visitors. Assists with staff training and organizes the duties and schedule of domestic staff. May assist or be charged with keeping the household budgets and inventory supplies. May schedule and oversee vendors of contracted services. May assist with household and family security measures. Oversees family packing and travel preparations. Understands social etiquette and formal service. Assists with planning and organizing parties and events in the home. Oversees and participates in proper table settings and entertainment prep. Serves meals and drinks and performs wait services related thereto. Knowledgeable about wines and spirits and oversees the wine cellar and liqueur inventory. May also serve as personal valet to the household and/or gentleman of the house. Performs light housekeeping duties. Coordinates with other staff as needed as well as with other parts of the employer’s organization.” [The International Guild of Professional Butlers Website, 2001] Other functions and skills may include:
-Cleaning and maintenance
-Care of clothing.
-Care of fine china, silver, crystal.
-Care and inventory of artwork and antiques.
-Maintenance of automobiles.
-Security of their employer and residence.
-Co-ordination and scheduling of service contractors.

As you can see, the all-around skills required of the Butler or House Manager are very similar to the Estate Manager. One main difference, however, is the level of “hands-on” involvement that is commonly present in the role. In the Butler/HM position, one may perform the service tasks themselves in addition to delegating to other staff. An HM or Butler can usually be relied upon to fill in for sick or absent staff at a moment’s notice, or regularly support various other full time employees with their daily functions. For example, a House Manager may assist with clothing care or a Butler with laundry or formal table service (This is often part of the Butler role). In residences with both an Estate Manager and HM/Butler, the two will work like a President and Vice President, administrating to the rest of the staff. It has recently become common for a House Manager to cook family style meals on a regular basis in smaller homes that require less overall care and can’t justify a full-time chef.

It is also worth noting that in some households the title of Butler still has a certain old world connotation. The very formal service standards of a Royal Palace or traditional British culture are upheld in some US homes today. In these instances, again, the final job description rests within the wishes of the one being served, and the all-around skills of the employee should be compatible with the expected demands of the employer.

Qualification
Similar to the Estate Manager, the House Manager has a very broad range of skills and knowledge. Backgrounds range from Hotel and Restaurant Management to formal Butler school training. Others simply “fall” into the field by helping out a friend of the family at their home or crossing over from an assistant or nanny position. Many homes require only part-time help to ease the burden of the owners’ busy schedules, but most families quickly realize the value of having a full-time person. Like all positions, the family’s service needs and property size will dictate the duties and level of formality for the Butler/House Manager. Useful traits include:
-Office or restaurant management and service skills. (More formal background or schooling depending on the household.)
-Broad knowledge of household items and their care.
-Good social skills and personnel management.
-Business and technology capability including computers and accounting.
-Leadership and motivation skills.
-Independent and team project management.
-Problem solving and “get it done” attitude. Very “hands-on” and ready to pitch in.
-Very resourceful, quickly learns the how and where to get things done in the local area.
-Negotiating and supervisory skills for outside contractors and other staff.

Again, the right person for the job will be adaptable to the standards and desires of the employer. Less formal households may choose to hire someone with related skills simply because they like their personality and can be trusted, while a more formal, larger organization will tend toward an extremely seasoned and perhaps formally schooled candidate. The Estate Manager or the owners themselves will sometimes be able to train the Butler / House Manager on the necessary and specific procedures of the home. In most cases, however, a well trained Butler with years of experience in similar households is the only consideration.

Compensation
Typical salary range is $70,000 - $120,000. More formal or specialized service requirements, a higher number of employees supervised, more demanding family and entertainment schedules, and related complexities will dictate higher pay rates. Additional benefits may include fully paid housing, automobile, insurance, clothing allowance, and more.

Excerpt from the book, Insider's Guide to Household Staffing, 2ed. Private Staffing Secrets They DO Want You to Know. Click for more information.

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The Hiring Process (Without an Agency)

Our bottom line advice for finding staff on your own is this: If you have the time and expertise available in your own organization, you can certainly complete the search on your own. However, if the burden of time or learning the ins-and-outs of the hiring process create more difficulties, then hire an expert to assist. For the DIY route, here's the "How to."

Plan
Most successful endeavors begin with a clearly defined plan, and so should the hiring process. Set specific goals for all the factors of the hire including time frames for each step of the process and the desired outcome at each stage. Many business authors would note “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” It can certainly apply here. Also, be very honest with yourself and don’t make unrealistic goals that set you up for failure. You may get very lucky with the first applicant on the first day or you may have to go through fifty candidates over several months to find just the right fit. Either way, a plan with realistic time frames can make finding great staff as simple as 1-2-3.

Define
The more details in a job description, the easier it is to find a matching candidate. Spend a great amount of effort making a list of every specific function you will expect of the employee and all associated factors. This is the critical foundation for the rest of the search, and as you will see, can save time in other steps. There are a tremendous number of items involved with a proper job description. Many corporate jobs, even at the most basic level may need a five or more page description of all the relevant tasks and qualifications. A private service position can be even more complex with the variations and importance of personality matching, so take great care in preparing this information. It will also be helpful in creating an Employment Agreement and a household or employee manual later on. As indicated earlier, the simplest indicator of long term success is how well the expectations of both employer and employee are communicated from the start. A sample questionnaire form is available through our agency to help with the definition step. Call us if you would like a fillable PDF version emailed to you free.

Reach Out
Once you know what you are looking for it is time to reach all the potential sources you can. The best way to find employees, without question, is by referral. Look to your friends, family, and peers for recommendations of former or current staff who may be looking for a new position. Let those who you can trust know your specific search criteria so they can rattle their brains and be “on the lookout” for possible sources. Second, try to target specific advertising areas for the type of employee you seek. Using classified ads is a good way to see a large selection of resumes, and even better is an industry specific job site like EstateJobs.com. Wherever you decide to advertise, be specific with requirements that are not negotiable. For example, if you want a trained Chef, state it in the ad. The same goes for any unchangeable part of the job and items you will not waiver on. We also highly recommend stating a legitimate salary range and what it is based on. For example, you don’t want replies from a $150k per year Estate Manager for a $60k per year House Manager role. Another important detail is to never list a phone number in an ad, just a fax number or email address for resumes. A professional job site or classified listing should allow a way to post anonymously with all responses being directed to your email via a proxy service automatically. EstateJobs.com and Craigslist.org both do this. This will allow you to control whom to speak with once you know a bit about their qualifications, and will avoid random, inquisitive calls about the position.

Legal Note: Pay attention to advertising laws for employment in your state and particular household organization. The wrong language in an ad can lead to complaints, fines, and at the least, turn off some potentially great employees.

Review
At this point you should already have the job description and a picture in your mind of what the perfect employee will be. Now, after hopefully receiving a “stack” of resumes from your advertising, you can begin matching the candidates’ skills and background with your ideals. There are many technical factors you can use to judge the applicants, but your first concern should be the job history of the candidate. Look for any significant positions that sound similar to the one you are trying to fill, and consider those first. The best match for your position will be the candidate that has proven him or herself in a job with the same duties you will be asking them to do. Just this simple matching should produce the top candidates for your job, even though you will consider several other elements of the person’s history. Evaluation of candidates’ resumes is another topic worthy of its own book, so for our purposes we’ll continue with the next step assuming you have identified the strongest applicants.

Respond
Once you have selected two or three potential candidates from the resume screening you can begin the preliminary interviews. The first step is to make contact by telephone and set up a time for an in-depth discussion. (Hint: It is great to catch an applicant a bit off-guard and hit them with a few quick interview questions when you call to arrange the formal time. This will give a candid glimpse into how they handle on-the-spot pressure and attitude. As an agent I often disqualify people on how they answer my calls from different numbers or caller ID’s. ) Set times with all the candidates you want to speak with in this way and you might be able to eliminate one or two based on their phone manner. Now you have a few appointments and a bit of time to prepare. As a courtesy to the applicants you are sure you will not interview further you can either make a quick phone call to let them know the position is filled, send them a letter, or send an email indicating the same. This may be a bit overwhelming depending on the number of resumes you receive, but it is a very nice surprise for job seekers to hear back from an employer even with a rejection. Keep all the resumes with good notes about the source of the candidate for future reference or a new job opening.

Interview
The appointment time has arrived and the first formal interview is about to begin. Are you ready? Do you know how to get the most meaningful information from a candidate? Will you give enough of the right details for the candidate to confirm their interest? This stage is the most important of the entire process without question and many people get caught up in conversation that is misleading or irrelevant to the success of the match. Make sure you know how to interview properly! The next section of the book discusses guidelines that are very helpful for getting the most out of your interviews with a clear understanding of whether or not you are bringing the right person into your home. Putting in the extra time to interview well will pay off later on. You might also consider some modern tech tools for your interview process. The popularity of web cameras, smart phones, and matching services like Skype and FaceTime can help get an overall impression of candidates through a video interview. Many clients prefer the face-to-face interaction, even if it is initially on a video screen.

Final Interviews
The last step with potential candidates is the in-person interview. Even if there was a phone meeting, there are many reasons to interview again in person, and specific techniques to get the most out of the session. The details of effective personal interviewing are beyond the scope of this guide, but the notes on basic interview procedures will apply nicely. Just remember to take as much time as necessary to feel that you really know the person you are considering. Can you see them as part of your family’s daily surroundings? Will you be able to relate to this person comfortably for many years? These are very tough decisions and they deserve your time. Similarly, you need to give the prospect as much of a real picture as you can for them to evaluate the job. There is nothing worse that a new employee who uncovers a multitude of reasons they should not have taken the job, just because they didn’t get to see it in the interview process.

Verify
If you follow the interview guidelines in this book you will end up with lengthy notes about each candidate you spoke with and you’ll have no doubt about what was said by whom. Compare notes on each interview to make a decision on one or two final candidates. You’ll now have two of three tools for making the final hiring decision: The resume and the interview results. The third will come from the verification stage of the process. Verification of the candidate’s resume information is the final step in your decision criteria. This includes a few different processes depending on what level of checking you want to attempt. One of the important screening tools is employment reference checking, so the next section contains a detailed procedure for doing it effectively. Finding out what a former employer has to say about the candidate can be the most revealing item in the applicant’s profile. The other information worth researching is an educational claim such as college or a specialized training. Based on the results of the verification stage you can decide whom you wish to interview in person.

Decide
Finally, with all critical information in your hand and on your mind, make a decision. It is possible to over think the situation with all the factors to consider, but try to make a firm decision and follow it through. If you have done all you can to find the right person you should feel excited about the new employee coming aboard. In fact, you should feel relieved that the process is near an end. Decide who gets the offer and prepare to contact them either with a written letter or by telephone. Doing both is probably your best course so you can be personable on the phone and all business in the written form. A letter will also eliminate any chance of miscommunication over the phone. Likewise, if any negotiation is to take place, all the items will be laid out in detail in a letter that can be revised as the agreement is made.

Finalize
Congratulations! You have successfully made it through the hiring of your new employee. The offer has been accepted and you have set a start date. The last step, which you should make clear to the employee, is the final background investigation phase. This is where you can run any number of additional checks on a candidate to screen for the following:
-Driving History
-Criminal History
-Past or Current Lawsuits
-Education Credentials
-Social Security Verification
-Credit History (If applicable. Check with your state laws for employment background screening.)

It should be made clear that the hiring of the employee is contingent upon any reports that you choose to run on them. This protects you from hiring someone who seemed great all the way, but may have some hidden problems in the past. For instance, if you are hiring an employee that will drive extensively you want to check for DUI’s or accidents on their record. Similarly, if the candidate will handle any finances you might want to know if they have a good credit record of their own. Choose relevant items to the situation and of course check to see if they have any criminal history. The internet can offer a number of background searches to choose from, but your best bet for a thorough job is to work with a service on referral. Some agencies are happy to run this process for you “a-la-carte,” charging fair rates to pull a complete report as if they had placed the applicant with you. Our firm offers this service upon request and can offer a variety of detail based on your needs.

Welcome
You now have all the makings of a solid employment situation. It is time to welcome your new employee into your home comfortably, knowing you have done all the right checking and screening. Further considerations should include the start of a “paper trail” for the lifetime of the employer / employee relationship. Some of these items are:
-Confidentiality Agreement
-Written Employment Agreement
-I-9 Form for Identification and Tax Withholding
-Any relevant Manuals or Service Schedules
Once again, if you do not have these resources at hand or already in place, a competent agency or consultant can produce the items for you. In fact, it is not a bad idea to go over these documents before you begin your search so you’ll know what the desired end product is.
Long-term success with staff will rely heavily on the initial foundations of the relationship. The more you do here, the more you can refer to later to judge the results of your decision and the performance of the employee. Nobody can meet your needs if they don't know what your needs are! Likewise, without a clear understanding of your employee’s expectations for growth, raises, benefits, and future duties, you will not know how to successfully manage and compensate over the long term. Communication is paramount. Hopefully your hard work will pay off with staff that becomes part of your life, blending into your service style and joyfully caring for you and your family for many years to come.

Excerpt from the book, Insider's Guide to Household Staffing, 2ed. Private Staffing Secrets They DO Want You to Know. Click for more information.

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Job Descriptions and Functions: Estate Manager

Estate Manager is perhaps the most widely used term in the business. Most candidates with a bit of experience running a household will mistakenly call themselves an Estate Manager. Likewise, other terms can be confused with it such as Majordomo, House Manager, and Butler. However, it is important to recognize the overall scope of the Estate Manager, being held in high regard as the top position title in private service.

Some other variations may include “Director of Estates,” “Director of Properties,” and “Chief of Staff,” but with a clear picture of the Estate Manager’s functions and a working definition of “Estate,” it is easy to see who truly fits the position. A common abbreviation for those in the industry is “EM.”

Author’s Note: One of the greatest pleasures of my career as a private service agency owner has been learning from the vast array of employees we get to know over time. It has always amazed me to meet and speak with Estate Managers who are deep in their years of service to elaborate estates and intriguing clients. The many skills and experiences make for what some would call a modern day version of the “Renaissance Man.” I continue to learn as we hear from these great service professionals in a field that is unique and rarely understood due to the privacy and discretion we all must honor.
Environment

The first qualifier we must consider is, “what defines an estate?” Pulling from the online dictionaries [dictionary.com] we find several meanings:

noun

1. a piece of landed property, especially one of large extent with an elaborate house on it: to have an estate in the country.
2. Law.
a. property or possessions.
b. the legal position or status of an owner, considered with respect to property owned in land or other things.
c. the degree or quantity of interest that a person has in land with respect to the nature of the right, its duration, or its relation to the rights of others.
d. interest, ownership, or property in land or other things.
e. the property of a deceased person, a bankrupt, etc., viewed as an aggregate. Under the meanings associated with an elaborate home and grounds and/or the sum total of properties and possessions owned, we place the Estate Manager as the highest appointed role within a client’s private staff.

Geographically, the Estate Manager would be located near the primary residence or offices of the Principal and have a “home office” of their own to base their administrative activity. When multiple properties are held, the EM is usually a travel based role with oversight duties at the various locations. In this instance the EM will go mobile with their operations, employing the latest technology and communications to run things from their fingertips while on the road.

Functions

Estate Manager is the top level in the household. He or she works directly with the owners to plan and execute the overall management of property and service. Where there are large or multiple homes the Estate Manager is the “C.E.O.” of the organization, carrying out the wishes of the owner at each location. Estate Managers typically set the service standard and are responsible for the hiring, training, and ongoing management of staff required to meet the service needs of the household. In addition to personnel management, the administrative functions are many. All related financial matters including accounting, budgets, and payroll normally pass through the EM’s hands. Based on the size of the property the Estate Manager may wear many other hats or delegate these functional areas to dedicated experts in the employer’s stable. Interfacing with accountants, attorneys, curators, captains, pilots, architects, financial advisors, and more is par for the course. Common direct supervision tasks may include screening and overseeing outside vendors, contractors, construction projects, maintenance of grounds, collections, autos, yachts, private planes, etc. With multiple properties, most EM’s travel ahead of their employer to get a property ready for their arrival and bring the staff up to speed on any necessary changes or service requirements. An Estate Manager may also be called upon to plan and execute events for the owner. This could range from a simple dinner for eight to a grand, formal gathering for eight hundred. For this mode an EM would regularly connect with top caterers, event planners, temporary service staff, and entertainment agencies. The levels of “hands-on” involvement can vary, but to truly exemplify the Estate Manager title, the details of service are executed primarily via management, and not as a service provider.

Qualification

The top Estate Managers in the industry are some of the most well rounded workers that can be found anywhere. The unique combination required to succeed in this position is rarely found in other professions. Important abilities include:

-Highest level of personal service experience with private families and/or individuals.
-Well educated in luxury items such as fine art and antiques.
-Proper social etiquette and cultural knowledge.
-Acute business skills in areas of finance, computers, planning, and organization.
-Human resources management.
-Leadership and motivation skills.
-Independent and team project management.
-Creative and intuitive thinking and problem solving.
-Very resourceful.
-Extremely well-traveled.
-Up to date on applicable technologies and global communications.
-Negotiating skills.
-Often multi-lingual.
-College or other advanced degree.
-Service training for private and/or hotel environments.
Above all, the right person for the job will be adaptable to the standards and desires of the employer. Execution of plans and tasks can be taught and developed with a basic skill set, but only those who are truly “in sync” with their boss and environment will succeed for the long term.

One variation worth mentioning is the substitution of a Family Office for the estate management function. We have worked with a few management companies who handle the Estate Manager’s duties as a group. They involve several specialists to coordinate and maintain the vast holdings of the employers and sometimes include extended family’s properties. For example, they may have a specialized real estate department to oversee acquisitions, renovations, and sales of global properties. A second specialist may work with staffing and training for the service needs throughout the homes, and another might be an inventory and insurance expert for all collections held. There are many potential configurations on the larger, global scale, but in our niche we will be referring to the individual who heads the overall estate regardless of any additional supporting personnel or office.

Compensation

The typical salary range is $100,000 - $200,000, while some Estate Managers in service for many years or with specialized project skills can earn in the range of $250,000 and up. Additional benefits may include fully paid housing, automobile, insurance, paid travel, clothing allowance, and more. One of the main factors for earning at the top of the range is the level of financial accountability this role has. Is there critical decision making at the purchasing, planning, construction, or other business transaction that would cause a profit or loss under the EM’s direction? If so, the real value presented to an employer can be easily measured. We’ve seen bonuses given for project completion or meeting budget goals, and some salaries or bonuses have been tied directly to the employer’s own financial success. When the scope of the job affects the bottom line, the compensation has the potential to continue upwards. Many in the high net worth category employ a “pay for performance” model, not uncommon in the financial industries where many of our clients derive their wealth.

Excerpt from the book, Insider's Guide to Household Staffing, 2ed. Private Staffing Secrets They DO Want You to Know. Click for more information.

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Finding Staff through an Agency

The alternative to conducting your own search for staff is to use a domestic employment agency. There are many benefits to searching with the help of an agency and many employers would not even consider other options. The only drawback is cost, with agency fees varying based upon the salary of the employee you hire. The rest of the chapter will give you a look at why agencies are valuable, leaving you with a simple equation:

"Do the benefits of the agency equal the value of your time and money spent doing the search yourself?"

Step by Step Expertise
From start to finish an experienced placement agent can guide you through the hiring process. Chances are that an agent has placed similar service staff in another home very much like yours. They will know to bring up all of the important details concerning the position, type of personality, and work environment that make a successful placement. So the beginning or planning phase of your hiring process requires only your response to standard questions a counselor knows to ask. As you continue through the steps to find staff the agency will have suggestions pertaining to your situation that should save time and make your part very simple. Likewise, the agent will do all of the legwork, compiling the paperwork, screening the candidates thoroughly, and coordinating telephone and in-person interview schedules. They are also the perfect “buffer” in sensitive discussions between the employer and potential employees. They can be impartial and very candid with questions about personal items and salary negotiations, helping get to the point right away.

Reach
The placement agency has its greatest advantage over the individual when it comes to reaching top candidates. Most agencies market to candidates 24/7 in various publications, by constant referrals, and other direct advertising, resulting in a tremendous pool of applicants in an ever-expanding database. The individual performing a one-time search is limited to the area and time where they are searching, and will not know about the many candidates available elsewhere. This reason alone is the basis for the agency fee. The company’s overhead is based on the continual updating and searching for qualified candidates to be on “standby” for the employer with specific requirements. So a client is really not paying for the hours it takes to handle their one placement, but for the cost of keeping an “inventory” of candidates.
Selecting an agency should be based on the type of position you are trying to fill. The higher the level of applicant needed, the more reach you’ll want. There are several agencies that are capable of placing staff nationwide and some even worldwide. Check with a few agents to determine if they are comfortable to talk to, understand your needs, and have made similar placements. You might also want to use several companies to have a larger pool of candidates to review. Some agencies charge an upfront fee to begin the search for you, while others only bill once you have made a successful hire. You might also consider an agency that is able to access candidates through partner or split agreements with other agencies. This will save you from having to work with more than one person on your search and will avoid the same resumes coming from more than one source. Most high level positions will require the reach of a national agency, but some of the “support” positions are better served locally. These include live-out or part-time childcare and housecleaning. A local agency will typically have a selection of employees within driving distance that can be replaced quickly if necessary. Check your local yellow pages for their ads.

Screening Experience
The employment agency’s second function is screening the applicants they attract. Every day resumes and profiles reach the desk of a recruiter and have to be reviewed for their potential success in a new position. This is where the most time savings are offered to the client. Extensive files are created on each qualified applicant, preliminary interviews are done and strengths and weaknesses assessed to determine where they will be a good match. An agency will present a client with only the applicants they know are a fit for the position requirements and the personality of the household. Doing so allows an employer to skip the entire preliminary review process of the random resumes they would find advertising a position on their own. They need only be concerned with identifying the strongest applicant among the few carefully matched profiles from the agency. Also because the agency is continually interviewing, checking references, and compiling documents, the time from start to finish on a top-level hire is greatly reduced.

Sample Agency Timeline
Day 1
Contact one or more agencies to discuss your staffing needs. You should have a very detailed job description to give the recruiter or they can walk you through the creation of one. Have the agency contracts sent by email or fax to review terms and fees, and return signed agreements to those you wish to work with. (If a fee is due to initiate a search you may be asked for a credit card payment or to submit payment by check.) If there is an upfront registration or retainer, make sure you are clear on what to expect in return. Many clients are hesitant about paying upfront, but if you are working with a reputable agency I can assure you they are doing a tremendous amount of work on your behalf from day one. Interact with them frequently and ask many questions along the way. It will be more than worth any upfront costs, and all fees paid likely apply toward the full placement upon hire.

Day 2
The agency begins its search for qualified candidates that match your criteria. Files could be forwarded to you as early as the afternoon you return a signed agreement. It is more likely, however, that an agent will contact each candidate that seems to fit the position and re-interview them for the specific job. They will also verify the applicant’s availability and desire for the position. This step could go on for days or even weeks depending on the level of skills and unique characteristics necessary. An agent should have a good idea of who is immediately available within 24-48 hours. If the initial candidates are not suitable, more resources may be employed, such as contacting other partner agencies for resumes or placing specifically targeted advertising for the job.

Day 4-5
Ideally, within a few business days, you will be presented with a few top choices form the agent’s files for you to review. It is not uncommon to end up hiring the first or second applicant you see, because the work of the recruiter can bring the best match right to the top of the list for you. Don’t be afraid of the “one and done” scenario. When locating unique people in a specific job niche the goal is to find a suitable match and hire! Comparison shopping for staff is not the best way to produce results, and sometimes causes the loss of a great candidate. Again, consult closely with your staffing professional to make these decisions.

Day 6-7
At this stage, assuming you have received candidates that interest you, it is time to conduct interviews. Most employers speak with potential applicants by phone before meeting them in person. This is a wise idea, especially if you have to fly the prospect from another location to meet with you. By speaking on the phone you will identify the top one or two candidates to meet in person. Make travel and interview arrangements with the help of the agent or directly with the applicant yourself. It is normal and expected that all travel costs will be paid by you, the employer throughout the interview process.

Day 7-14
Conduct extensive in-person interviews with the selected candidates. Go through all of the preparation and steps suggested in the chapter on interviewing and clearly discuss all elements of the job while they are on the property. Misunderstandings about employer expectations are the greatest reason for employees leaving a new job. Make sure everyone is clear on all the details of the position. Also consider a “working interview” where a candidate can visit you for consecutive days and perform work as part of your screening process. This is most common with Chefs who will do trial cooking periods for potential employers. Anytime a person works for you, even for the sake of an interview, you must pay for their services. Arrange this in advance through your agency.

Day 14-21
Make a decision on the best employee for your needs and lifestyle, and make a formal offer. It is best to put it in writing, either right away or as a follow-up to a verbal communication of the deal. There should not be much haggling because the financial terms of the offer will be very close to the amount previously discussed with the agency and the candidate. Once the candidate accepts, set a start date and arrival time if they are traveling or relocating. Then consult with the agency to finish official background reports and identification paperwork on the new employee. All offers should be conditional on the final verification of background and references. Again, your agent can guide you through these steps. They should also be able to provide templates and help you draft all necessary documents for a proper offer and hire.

Day 21-30
Mission accomplished! Help the new employee get settled in their position and possibly the new living quarters. Welcome them to your home and give them the necessary equipment, paperwork, and information for their job. Also have a meeting with other staff to introduce the new person and explain their fit within the team. Work closely with them to convey your preferences and service needs from the start. Developing a “custom” employee will be much easier than trying to correct differences later on.

One exception to this average timetable is the Trial Period. Should you want to hire a candidate that is not presently working or that can be flexible with time off of their current job, a one or two week trial period is a good idea. This is especially relevant in positions that require cooking or specialized knowledge such as formal service. If you choose to have a trial, make sure the terms are clear, including the pay, the functions, and the schedule expected during the week(s). You can make a formal offer to a candidate during or after the trial period.

As a final note, if you don’t already have it in place, protect and simplify the employment relationship with a payroll service. The right professional service can implement all the legal paperwork and ongoing payroll processing for you. There are a number of easy options to set up things like automatic deposit, check delivery, taxes and withholding, etc. It’s really a no-brainer! Please ask us for a referral based on your location and particular needs.

Excerpt from the book, Insider's Guide to Household Staffing, 2ed. Private Staffing Secrets They DO Want You to Know. Click for more information.

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Background Screening

The highest level of background screening available.

All available public records are searched thoroughly when a candidate is offered a position. We provide direct access to Private Investigation services as part of the employment process. When you hire through us, you'll know who you are allowing into your home.

Search reports are customized for each position and can include:

Applicant Verification Report: Using the name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number supplied by your applicant, the Applicant Verification Report helps you verify the accuracy of the information and identify potential fraud.

National Criminal Database Report: The National Criminal Database Report accesses criminal conviction, sexual offender registry, and Department of Corrections records from across the United States and provides information on any matches related to your applicant.

Motor Vehicle Driving Record (MVR) Reports: An MVR report on your applicant provides instant access to driving records and driver's license status.

Nationwide Court Search: This search enables us to obtain criminal histories for the candidate within the county, state, and federal court records wherever the applicant has lived. Trained court researchers will be dispatched to over 3,000 courts across the country to retrieve the most current information and deliver it electronically to us.

Credit Reports: A credit report for employment screening may give valuable insight into a potential employee’s financial responsibility. Credit reports are not run automatically, but clients may decide to use this tool for their hiring decision with full FCRA compliance. Your staffing specialist can help you make this decision.

 

If you have any questions or special requests for background screening, our process can be fully customized to your needs. Feel free to call or email with any inquiries about is possible.