The most important thing to understand when assessing your chances of being placed by a Domestic Agency is, “What does a Domestic Agency do?” The answer is very simple, but it explains why they may or may not be able to help you find a job.
The function of a Domestic Employment Agency is to find candidates to fill job vacancies for clients. In exchange for this service, agencies are paid a substantial fee by the client (The main reason they are in business). Simple, right? Then let’s consider what the value of this service is to the client, and why they pay the agency’s fee. Well that is simple too. A client will pay a premium to hire someone who has been proven successful in the exact same situation over many years. It is almost like buying a “guarantee of satisfaction,” or hiring a service that has been in business for a long time with similar clientele.
Therefore, the ideal candidate for any position will be experienced at the exact job description and have a lengthy work history to back it up. If you are one of the top applicants in a particular field, you already know it, because you have “been there” and done the job for many years, hopefully for the same employer. You are the applicant the agencies are screening for every day and can often place very quickly. If you are not one of the top applicants, you must try to fit a position where a compromise or exception makes you the best fit.
These “exceptions” are made in only two instances: When the job description is very unique and does not fit a particular category, or if there is a shortage of qualified, matching applicants for a position. In these cases the agency must choose from candidates with the most applicable skills and job history to fit the position. This would be considered the gray area where an agent must determine your placement potential based on several criteria. The order of importance is as follows:
Work History / References
Your employment resume is 95% of the placement criteria!
Have you worked in a private home, doing the exact job you are applying for? (as an employee, not volunteer or for family). If you have no experience in the position you are seeking, most agencies won’t even speak with you. Agencies are not in the business of “giving you a chance,” or helping you explore a new career direction.
Can we verify this employment and will the client speak highly of your work with them?
What a former boss says about you is weighted very heavily. Do you have a reference letter and current contact information? You should if you want to be placed! (Note: Some bad references are given by difficult employers in unfortunate situations. Agents know this and can usually tell the “true” statements from the lies. Of course this is only possible with several other “glowing” references!)
How long have you stayed in each position, and what was the reason for your departure?
A longer run with each job is better, showing loyalty, longevity, and dependability. The more short-term positions you have had, the worse you look as a candidate.
In addition to your work history, the specific skills you offer to an employer from other related jobs are important. For example, if you have an accounting background you might be more attractive to an employer requiring management of bills, budgets, and accounts. Or if you have been a fine dining server in a restaurant, you might be adept at helping set and serve table for entertaining. This does not mean that if you mowed your own lawn for 10 years, that you can oversee the landscaping and care of formal gardens! Trust me, we have heard people make far more ridiculous assumptions. And remember, even though helpful, related skills are only a part of the small 5% left to consider after your actual work history.
This is a tricky topic, because some employers want an education related to Domestic Service, and some think it is not worth much. In the eyes of an agent, the client’s request determines how important any type of education is. Some employers will only hire candidates with four-year college degrees, while others don’t even ask if you have completed High School! Overall, no matter what the educational background of the applicant is, no related work history = very little chance of placement. The recent exception to the rule is the growing popularity of Butler and Household Management schools. There are occasional client requests for applicants with a specific degree from one of the schools like Starkey, Ivor Spencer, International Butler Academy, etc. Though not often, the training from these schools can sometimes combine with other practical experience to give you a chance at placement.
In summary, the agencies are trying to make perfect matches for each position, just like in any corporate recruiting. On a technical level, the history of a candidate’s work performance determines the best fit in a job, with other factors playing a smaller role in the complete package. So when looking for placement through an agency, know that your experience determines 95% of being a good candidate, and the other 5% might make you the right selection for a particular job opening.
We encourage applicants with related experience to apply with any agencies that will accept your resume because there is always a chance that you’ll fit some position out there. Newcomers to the Domestic field can find more helpful information in the article “Finding Your First Domestic Position.”
About the Author (Author Profile)Steven Ferry is chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers and the author of bestsellers "Butlers & Household Managers 21st Century Professionals" and "Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators." He also trains and consults for the profession around the world.
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