We want to help host families like you find an au pair that will meet all your needs – so we sat down for an exclusive interview with Chris Aho, a Cultural Care Au Pair Matching Specialist based in Boston, Massachusetts. He gives us the inside scoop on what makes a great host family profile, what common mistakes to avoid, the 5 best practices for matching and more!
Q: Hi Chris! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Cultural Care?
A: Sure thing. I’m originally from Wisconsin, but have now lived in Boston for three years. I’ve been working at Cultural Care for roughly that same amount of time. I’ve been involved with a variety of projects and teams within Cultural Care, including our Program Education Team, Travel Team, and of course Placement!
Q: How long have you been working as a Matching Specialist?
A: I’ve been working as a Matching Specialist for about two and half years. My region in the U.S. is Washington D.C., which means I work with host families in that area looking for au pairs.
Q: What is your best advice for a host family just beginning the matching process?
A: My best advice is to be open to au pairs that may not check all of the boxes. Many families believe that what works for their friends or their neighbor will equal success for them as well. It might be true but it might not. Be open to au pairs of different ages, countries, and English levels. You might be surprised how much you connect with someone!
Q: What should every host family profile include, to increase their chances of matching?
A: Au pairs want to know that they are going to treated as part of the family and not as an employee. A great way to show that is through your pictures. Put some pictures up of your holiday traditions, family vacations, and other fun things you like to do together. Just as you are looking through an au pair’s photos, this is usually the first place they’ll look on your profile too.
Q: What are some of the biggest roadblocks host families run into when matching?
A: We know that getting declined by candidates can be frustrating but it’s really just a part of the process. It’s the au pair’s way of saying that she doesn’t feel that it would be a good fit and we want both parties to be excited about the match. If you don’t feel a connection to an au pair’s profile, you just don’t send the request – and if an au pair doesn’t feel a connection with yours, they just decline the request. Try not to take it personally and keep searching! Another roadblock is response time. Keep in mind that au pairs are also busy with school, work, exams, etc. – and with the time difference for some countries, it can be tough to schedule an interview or even hear back. But, be patient. If you’re waiting to hear back from someone, use your additional connection requests to your advantage and reach out to another candidate in the meantime.
Q: Do you have any funny matching stories/anecdotes to share?
A: I’ve had many matches that were so close to happening but neither the host family nor the au pair wanted to commit to a match because they were afraid of what the other would say. In the end, it usually turns out that the other person is feeling the same way as you and also wants to match – so don’t be afraid to say something! Let the au pair know if you want to match with them rather than waiting. This can avoid confusion and save lots of time.
Q: Do you have any matching success stories that stick out to you?
A: One of the first host families and au pairs that I matched were the perfect fit for one another. On paper, they weren’t exactly what each of them was looking for – 4 kids in a rural area of the United States and a younger au pair – but through the interviews they grew to love each other. Stories like this really show that the best fits come when the personalities of the host family and the au pair really click. In this case, they even extended for a second term!
Q: What is the most rewarding part about being a Matching Specialist?
A: It’s great to hear the success stories and know when a match is going to work out. It feels good to have a hand in that process. There are certain matches that you can just tell through conversations with the host family and au pair that they are a great fit and will be successful in the year to come. I also love hearing all of the stories of host families who keep in touch with their previous au pairs or even travel to visit them years after they hosted them!
Q: In your opinion, why should host families choose Cultural Care?
A: Cultural Care offers so much support from so many different people across every phase of the host family journey. From your LCC, to your Matching Specialist to your Account Services Team and so many more – there is always someone who can help answer whatever question you may have.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the most compelling reasons to become a host family?
A: This program is great not for just childcare, but for opening your family to other cultures. My families who are the most successful are the ones who want to give more in this program than they are receiving. They want to give someone the opportunity to see the United States and improve their English, and gain a new family member. The ones who view the program in this light end up finding themselves with someone they will be connected with forever – someone their kids really bond with, who provides childcare as if they were their own children. This program truly is an exchange and if you put the work in to find a good fit and provide for your au pair, you will receive a relationship that will last forever.
Q: What would you say are the 5 best practices for families matching with au pairs?
A: That’s a great question! There are lots that our families can do to help find a perfect au pair match – but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say …
- Be genuine in your profile and in your connection requests. Don’t sugarcoat any of the schedule requirements or driving expectations. Make sure the au pair knows what they’re getting into. In your connection requests, talk about what you like about that specific au pair. Why are you reaching out to that au pair? What parts of their profile made you reach out in the first place?
- Be patient. The matching process can take a while but it will work out in the end.
- Get away from email as your primary method for communication with au pairs. Au pairs might be using their phones but if they’re like me, they’re not checking their personal email address every hour. A quicker option is WhatsApp! WhatsApp is a free texting platform and can speed up the communication between you and an au pair drastically.
- Be open to changes. This can mean changes to your profile or changes to the criteria that you’re looking for. When faced with a criteria decision, ask yourself: Is this something that I need or simply something that would be nice to have?
- Use your Matching Specialist. You know your family best but sometimes it is nice to have a second set of eyes on the pool or your profile, and someone to provide recommendations.
Interested in hosting an au pair and working with your own personal Matching Specialist? Get started here.