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Need help with your helper?

  1. #9
    loupou is offline Baby Guru
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    Mar 2003
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    New Territories
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    If you use an agency...

    If you use an agency, be very stern w/ the agents and REFUSE to consider anyone who does not have positive references with a telephone number with which you can reach the former employer to ask about the helper's performance.

    Last time we did that, it reduced the number of candidates for use to consider to about 3.

    If the former employer speaks Cantonese and you can't speak Cantonese, ask a friend to act as your trasnlator (in my case my DH spoke to the Cantonese speaking employers and I spoke to the English speaking ones).

    Also, be aware that super-woman does not exist. If a woman is gentle and patient w/ babies and toddlers, she may not be an A-1 cleaner, or strict disciplinarian w/ school-age kids.

    If she is a fantastic cleaner and cook, she may not be much of one for playing in the playground w. the kids or making up craft projects to entertain them on rainy days.

    Other questions...

    Another discipline question - how to deal with bath refusal?

    What would you do if my child made a big mess eating crackers and there were crumbs all over the floor?

    Are you willing to work to teach the kids to clean up after themselves, even though it is sometimes more time consuming than just doing it yourself?

    [Can you tell I have school-age kids?]


    *************

    Once hired, I made it very clear to my helper that we would not tolerate my kids speaking to her disrespectfully.

    I explained the discipline methods we use (sitting on chair in corner, sending to room for 1 minute, denial of being taken out to the playground, etc.).

    I used a naval analogy to explain it to her.

    "My husband and I are the captain. You are the first mate, the kids are the crew. When we are gone, you are the "Officer on Deck" and the kids should do as you direct them. If not, they are in trouble." (I also explained this to my kids).

  2. #10
    armstroe's Avatar
    armstroe is offline Registered User
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    Pokfulam
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    HI Loupou

    I fully agree with your point about compromising on certain aspects to having a helper. Although the way I feel at the moment, I don't know what I would compromise on. I feel we compromised too much over the last few years.

    While I was working our daughter was the priority, so housework became a very distant second. Now the housework is important, because I'm at home for the kids (one school age, the other a baby). One of the very key things is having someone with a pleasant disposition, my husband particularly just wants someone to smile and say hello when he gets home! (yes, I know I should do a better job!!!)

    And how do you know you are going to get a happy helper? I'm very depressed about the search already.

    Thanks again for your tips about the agencies.

  3. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    USA
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    11

    Finding & interviewing a helper

    The following may be a bit long winded but hopfully it will help with all your concerns.

    Many first time home help employers may choose to use the services of an agency and this can minimize complications if the agency is a reputable one and adequately screens candidates prior to your meeting them. However when hiring someone who you will have to trust with your child or your personal life, you owe it to yourself to interview the candidates thoroughly yourself. If you do not feel you need the services of an agency to find candidates, placing or answering an ad in a local newspaper or doctor’s office notice board, is a good way to start, but you should always ask for references and trust your instincts. Success often comes from asking friend’s who are happy with their helpers, if they know of anyone experienced and reliable who is looking for a job. Some of the most successful home helpers are not always qualified or highly experienced, and if you are prepared and able to offer some training and guidance, it is best to choose someone you feel you can trust over someone you are not sure of but stacks up well on paper. This is one time when the rules are personal and not business.

    Plan ahead. Before you begin looking for a helper, take the time to clearly identify yours and your family’s needs, and prioritize them. Make a work plan of daily, weekly, biweekly and monthly tasks that you would like your helper to be responsible for

    Make a list of personal qualities you would like to see in your helper; maturity, gentle disposition. Skills such as cooking, first-aid and laundry care are obviously important however without references confirming skills, even years of experience may not necessarily translate into superior performance so be prepared to do a little training to get things done just as you like them..

    Create, copy and complete a check-list, for each candidate. Using your work plan and priority list as a base, think of relevant questions with space to make notes of observations. (See example below)

    Get personal. Asking personal questions that do not have an incorrect answer will help the candidate to relax. This person is going to be living in your house, primarily responsible for your most personal and precious things and you have a right to know if they are married, have children, have a hobby, are in good health, like movies, church or dancing etc. Avoid being too intrusive, but don’t be bashful either. Asking for three qualities they like about themselves will give you great insight into a candidate’s maturity, confidence, personality and level of independence. To help you recall them and introduce them to other members of the family, you may consider taking a polaroid snap-shot or digital picture of them to attach to your check list. (Remember to ask permission prior).

    Give a small but significant practical test. For example, if laundry would be a big part of their job, hand the candidate an item of clothing and ask how they would clean it. If they are able to follow the laundry instructions on the care label you know they are experienced in clothes care. Or give a children’s book and ask them to read a few pages to you. You will immediately find out if the candidate can read English and whether or not they would be capable of helping your child with reading.

    Give yourself a time frame in which to make a decision. Allow enough time to interview several candidates, remembering that many will only be available for interviews on weekends. Never make a snap decision, even if one candidate appears to be everything you want. Sleep on it and see several candidates before you offer the position to any one.

    Remember the candidate is there to decide if they would like to work for your family too. Be prepared to walk them through the house, show them their living quarters, introduce them to any children or pets they will be responsible for and ask them if they have any questions for you.
    If you are prepared to pay over the minimum salary for specific qualities or qualifications, tell them. Take this opportunity after they have answered most of your questions to spell out the personal, ethical and moral qualities you expect from someone living or working in your home. This will let the candidate know you will not tolerate being taken advantage of. Discuss days off, expected work hours and any other expectations or terms of employment such as health insurance and salary. Remember, unless you employ them on a purely contractual basis, you will be responsible for with-holding tax etc. just as you would if you were the owner of a business employing office staff. (More on this subject covered in Chapter 14 “Home help Handbook”.) As labor laws differ from state to state, it is advisable to check with a lawyer before committing to compensation terms.

    If you like the candidate fix a date and time when you will contact them if they have been successful. Remember to ask if they are interviewing with anyone else and if so, ask them to contact you if they are offered another position prior to your confirmation date, this will help to avoid loosing a good candidate to another employer.


    CHECK-LIST - (SAMPLE)


    Name:……………………………………… ……….…… Age:……… Contact #:………………………………………… …………………….


    1. Where are you from?……………………………………… ……………..………………

    2. Have you brought any references with you? ………………………………………… ……………………

    3. Tell me about your last job? ………………………………………… ………………………………..………

    4. Why are you looking for a new job? ………………………………………… ………………………………

    5. Do you like cooking? …………………What kind of things did you have to cook for your last employer?

    6. Have you looked after children before? ………… What ages? ………….

    7. Do you like looking after children? What ages best? ………………………………………… ………….

    8. Are you married? …………………………… Do you have children…………………………..……… ………

    9. Do you have brothers and sisters? ………………………………………… …………………………….…..

    10. And your parents?…………….. ………………………………………… ………………………….……………

    11. Would you wish to live here with us full time or do you have a home you would like to return to in you time off?

    ………………………………………… ………………………………………… ……………………………………

    12. Tell me three things (qualities) you like about yourself. ………………………………………… ….………..

    13. Tell me three things you think you are good at. ………………………………………… ……………………

    14. Have you ever been seriously ill? Yes / No With what?…………………………… When?…………....

    15. Would you be happy to have us send you to a Doctor for a physical exam before you start? Yes / No

    16. What do you like doing in your free time? ………………………………………… ………….…………………

    17. Do you have any hobbies? ………………………………………… ……………………………………

    18. Have you ever done a first aid course? Yes / No ………………………………………… ……………………

    19. When would you be available to start? ………………………………………… ……………………………….





    SUMMARY

    Personal qualities:
    Punctuality, Early On time Late
    Maturity, Good Fair Poor
    Gentle disposition, Good Fair Poor
    Independent thinker, Good Fair Poor
    Artistic, Good Fair Poor
    Grooming Good Fair Poor
    Ease with children & pets Good Fair Poor
    Self confidence Good Fair Poor
    Skills:
    English Good Fair Poor
    First Aid Training Qualified Some None
    Cooking Confident Unsure Inexperienced
    Childcare Confident Unsure Inexperienced
    Elderly-care Confident Unsure Inexperienced
    Laundry Confident Unsure Inexperienced
    Practical Test: Confident Unsure Needs training



    Comments and observations……………………………… ………………………………………… ………………………………………… ………
    ………………………………………… ………………………………………… ………………………………………… …………………………………
    ………………………………………… ………………………………………… ………………………………………… …………………………………
    ………………………………………… ………………………………………… ………………………………………… …………………………………
    Julie Jacobson
    Author of Helper's Helper Tips and advice for employers and their domestic helpers.

  4. #12
    Join Date
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    Sorry if I confused you a little with the "State to State" and "withholding tax" references - I have just got back from a trip, I am a little tired - and the section I posted is from my new book for the US - although the advice is the same!
    Julie Jacobson
    Author of Helper's Helper Tips and advice for employers and their domestic helpers.

  5. #13
    armstroe's Avatar
    armstroe is offline Registered User
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    thank you thank you thank you!

    Julie, this is a great help. And a big thank you to everyone else for their suggestions too.

  6. #14
    aldougie is offline Registered User
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    Elizabeth - why don't you give Helen a call - she may still be in the country and has recommended her helper highly on our notice board at work - not sure what salary she will be looking for but might be worth seeing if she's still available. Send me a PM and I will give you her contact details.

    Alison

  7. #15
    Graham's Avatar
    Graham is offline Registered User
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    Hi, I'm new here (although not new to HK).

    Could somebody tell me where I can buy Julie's book 'Helper's Helper'?

    It sounds just the ticket, as we have our first ever domestic helper and first child both arriving soon.

    Thanks,

    Graham

  8. #16
    rani's Avatar
    rani is offline Administrator
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    Graham Welcome to GeoBaby!

    Helper's Helper is available through our online store

    http://www.shopinhk.com/product.php?productid=1510


    Rani
    Last edited by rani; 01-28-2007 at 10:03 AM.

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