When we asked our au pairs on Facebook: “What do you look for in a host family’s profile while matching?” they had lots to say. Some au pairs answered the question generally while some looked for more specific pieces of information. Either way, what you do (and don’t) include in your host family profile will definitely impact whether or not your ideal candidate accepts an invitation to join your family. This is especially true now that au pairs can connect with up to 10 host families at a time. While you want to “sell” your family to an extent—by pointing out what an au pair will love about your family and community—it’s also in your best interest to paint a realistic picture of what an au pair can expect once she arrives. The following are some tips for creating a profile that will help you attract an au pair that is right for you.
1. Make the effort to complete your profile
If there was a common thread in au pairs’ response to our question about what they look for in a host family’s profile it was that they appreciate an application that is complete. As one Brazilian au pair in the matching process commented, “We are required to answer all questions [in our application] and [host families] often do not [fill out] even half.” More off-putting than the lack of information is the fact that an incomplete profile indicates that a family does not care enough to take the process seriously. A thorough and sincere profile suggests a family cares about who their au pair is and about her happiness during her year in the U.S.
2. Be truthful
We demand that au pairs be absolutely truthful in their applications and host families should commit to doing the same. Although it might be tempting to glamorize your situation to attract more au pair candidates, it’s not a good practice in the end. So, as María, an au pair from Mexico, recommends, “Just [tell] the truth.” If an au pair is put off by your family’s rules, house size, lack of au pair car or weekly schedule, better to have her reject your family outright so you can find a candidate whose expectations and values are more in tune with your own.
3. Upload lots of photos
Au pairs want to see photos of your children, of course. But they also want to see photos of their potential future host parents (that’s you), your pets, your home and the au pair’s bedroom. Photos that express your personality as a family are great to include. For example, if you are a really sporty family, consider including photos of your annual ski trip or a local bike ride. If you are a goofy family, show your sense of humor through a funny photo of yourselves. The more you can “show” a potential au pair what it will be like to live with your family, the better.
4. Write a thoughtful letter
Your letter is the only section of your profile in which you get to share anything you want in your own words, so take full advantage of this opportunity. Describe each family member’s personality and likes and dislikes as well as why you want to welcome an au pair into your home. Au pairs love to hear about their host parents’ interests, careers and backgrounds in addition to information about the children so be sure to include details about you and your spouse as well. This is a good place to talk about how you see your au pair fitting into your life (ie, do you want an au pair who is really going to become a member of the family or do you prefer someone who is a little more independent?)
5. Share some perks you can offer an au pair
Offering loads of materialistic benefits upfront (i.e., unlimited use of a fancy car, an au pair suite with private entrance and bath, expensive vacations with the family) can backfire on families who may find that au pairs are drawn to them for the wrong reasons. But pointing out a few unique benefits au pairs will enjoy during a year with your family is okay to do. For example, if your au pair will not have access to a car off-duty, you can try to offset that perceived disadvantage by disclosing the fact that there are at least a dozen other au pairs in your neighborhood who are potential friends and carpoolers. If you have a beautiful pool in the backyard that you love to use, let her know she’s welcome to use it, too.
6. Talk up your community
Families often get frustrated by au pairs who only seem to want to match with families in southern CA or New York City. But those who take the time to point out all of the great things about their own community find that au pairs are easily swayed to travel elsewhere for the right family in another great location. Use the “Community” section of your profile as well as your letter to let au pairs know what they will appreciate about your area.
7. Include your family’s schedule
There is an opportunity in the profile to include your family’s weekly schedule, and we highly recommend taking time to fill this out in terms that are specific as possible. This is especially important if you require your au pair to work more unusual hours such as early mornings, evenings and weekends. Of course, it’s okay if your needs change somewhat once she arrives but it’s best to let candidates know what coverage you anticipate needing upfront because some au pairs are more particular about their on-duty schedule.