The application process to become an Au Pair definitely isn’t quick or easy – but being able to live in America for a year, with such a huge support network around you, makes the hours spent perfecting your profile seem like seconds in comparison!
After the initial interview and submission of documents, you then gain access to start filling out your online profile – which is the first port of call when families are looking to hire an Au Pair. Being that I applied with Gap 360/Interexchange, the online profile is comprised of three parts – a short questionnaire, a letter to your potential future host family and a welcoming video. Each part is pretty straightforward, but require lots of effort and dedication to ensure that you stand out from the hundreds of other Au Pairs all competing to find their dream family!
The questionnaire is very straightforward and works to place you in a family best suited to you and what you want. It begins by asking about your childcare experience, requesting, in detail, for the responsibilities undertaken as well as a typical day within that role. It then moves on to ask you about your family life, past employment, education, interests, general health and driving experience – similar to most job applications! The preferences section is one of the final parts and is where you really start to think about the kind of family you want to be placed in. This is where you need to consider whether you have specific preferences in regards to family dynamics, race, religion and location. Two pieces of (slightly contradicting) advice! Firstly, don’t limit yourself and close off opportunities – there are LOTS of families that are looking for Au Pair’s and each have their own specifications of what they are looking for – whether that’s someone of the same religion, or simply, just someone who is a terrific swimmer. By stating you aren’t comfortable working with a single sex parent or a religious family for example, you’ve automatically closed the door to so many families and therefore limited your chances when the matching process begins. Try to be open minded and embrace a new dynamic or a set up different to one you’re used to – this whole opportunity lifts you out of your comfort zone so why not edge out a little bit more and try something totally new! Secondly, as I say, slightly contradictory, but if there are certain things that you know you physically cannot embrace, then don’t pretend you’ll be fine just to keep yourself open to more families, in the long run – you’ll wish you hadn’t! You’ll end up unhappy, re-matching, or just declining every interview you are offered. I didn’t have a preference of any kind of religion, race or family dynamic – but I did state that I only wanted aged children 5 or older. I’ve never really worked with younger children or babies and a lot of the activities I had mentally planned for my placement involved slightly older children, so working with 3 year olds just wouldn’t have been a good fit for me. Yes, I ruled out lot’s of potential families – but by remaining firm on that, I managed to match with families much more suited to what I had envisioned!
The next step is to write a letter to your future host family – a great way to introduce yourself personally and provide some additional detail to the set questions asked, similar to a cover letter for a job application. Interexchange/Gap 360 give a basic guideline to follow when writing your letter – reminding you to reference your driving experience, previous employment and basic hobbies, which makes it a lot easier to write rather than just winging it! My biggest piece of advice here would be to make sure you give lots of detail, check for spelling/grammar mistakes and follow the format! It’s easy to go off topic, but keep it clear and concise and you should be fine! The rough guideline given was a paragraph on each subject (family background, experience, interests etc) so after all that’s done, it amounts to roughly 1/2 pages. Anymore than that and you’ve probably slightly rambled, any less and you probably haven’t rambled enough! As with most things in life, it’s good to get a nice balance.
Finally, there’s the application video – which was personally my favourite part; I studied film and media in college and so I relished the chance to get back behind the camera and stuck into some editing software! The video is a great way to let your personality shine and your character to really come across. If you’re not creatively inclined – don’t worry! It doesn’t need to be an Oscar worthy blockbuster as none of your host families are looking to hire the next Steven Spielberg! What they are looking for, is a more personal insight into who you are and how you come across, so make sure you’re smiley, friendly and have a clear voice when speaking! In the video, you’re supposed to touch on your experiences again, while also showcasing your home, family and hometown. I really enjoyed putting together my short video and, being that I had a little more experience, I was able to experiment with background music, camera angles and transition edits. Some people decide to film in one location and use it more as a vlog, others choose to add all the bells & whistles and truly get stuck in – but so long as you highlight who you are and why you’d be a great addition to their family, you’ll be just fine.
Overall, my online application took me around 2/3weeks as I was juggling work and other commitments alongside it. For some people, it could be done within a week, others may take a lot longer – but there’s no time limit so don’t rush! This is the final and most in depth part of your application before you can start matching with families so make sure it counts!