27 May To the Manor Hired
So You Want To Be A Domestic Service Employee?
By Jennifer Lordly Stemes Home Staffing Network
Perhaps a Personal Assistant comes to mind. Maybe you’re in tune to be an Executive Housekeeper, Household Manager, Estate Manager, or skilled Butler?
-What goes into being in a service role? -Where can one learn more? -Is it rewarding?
To answer the last question first, absolutely! It can be the best and most rewarding lifestyle job you could hope. Ask anyone who has ever been in Domestic Service for the negatives and the positives and time and again the response will be; “There’s a negative to any employment, but largely, service is for the individual who believes the reward is in the doing and the financial benefits will follow”.
As far as the other questions, first and foremost, do your research. Learn what the true staff title means and then believe the single title for which you feel skilled and ready is likely only that – a title.
The true service professional has only one role and one position – SERVICE.
Where is the best method of finding answers? The Internet and a reputable agency and the library will all provide excellent resources. The agency can offer the most insight into this field and many offer a database of valuable tools for not only learning more about the industry but also list open job opportunities. With a good agent assisting you can ask unlimited questions and delve into the goals of the Principals as well as your own expectations.
When searching and thinking of your own background and skills to offer, don’t be swayed by the title of MANAGER or EXECUTIVE or ASSISTANT.One can seldom assume a title when one enters the realm of Domestic Service. Once you open the doors to the Manor, you are, in all reality, an “every person”. You may be the guest greeter, message taker, appointment setter, party planner, dog walker, childcare provider, vehicle maintainer and chauffeur, bathroom cleaner, dish washer, floor mopper, grocery and gift shopper, pantry restocker, ironer and handler of the most delicate of laundry, shoe polisher, bed changer, and all tasks in between, regardless of title. If one enters service believing the title is the job, one may be rudely awakened and could set oneself up to fail. To enter the Manor with the true “can do and will serve” mentality almost always guarantees success.
There are, of course, formal or structured Estates where one’s role is clearly defined and boundaries between staff and the Principals are etched in stone. These often require a deep background and training in the specific job and are tailored to the experienced.
More the norm is when you are likely to be “the manager, the executive, or the assistant” and carry other duties as well. You will often wear all those hats and others as the need arises. How rewarding the job will be depends on the negotiations at the beginning, best handled by a reputable agent, and the mindsets of the employer and employee throughout the employment term.
The second step, after becoming aware of the roles, is finding the best and most accurate job descriptions. Like a well-prepared resume where the prudent reader knows to discount by 50% the content due to the Candidate’s personality and experience “inflation”, one must learn the fine art of reading between the lines of the job description. Sure, the descriptive catch phrases we read are clear, we think. “Flexibility is key” “Employer has a particular style” or (gasp), “Principal is demanding” are words that if ignored, may render the new recruit speechless and feeling overwhelmed.
One candidate said to me, “I can be completely flexible”. My immediate thought is this person is applying for an acrobatic role with Cirque du Soleil. One needs to realize “flexible” in the minds of most employers is that one will respond well at any and all hours of the day for the most outrageous demands.
The employer who has “a particular style” could lead one into the home of a neat freak who knows precisely where things were placed yesterday and rages if off by a centimeter today. No style will be too outlandish and all employees must be prepared for exactly that – outlandish.
“Principal is demanding” is perhaps the most devilish of details. The Principal who is willing to present that trait in a job description is telling applicants loudly and clearly, “Do as I say, when I say, and expect I won’t like the outcome no matter what”. How does one handle that situation or employer? With tact, grace, and above all with a service mind, for after all, the Domestic Service individual serves at the pleasure (or whim) of the employer.
Take heart; there are bad employers, so sometimes one has to cut one’s losses and call it a day.
There is one reward from being in Domestic Service that is possibly the least recognized. That is the reward of strength. With the experience one garners while fulfilling a service role comes the strength of stamina. There is truth to the adage, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. If lucky enough to be in an emotionally and financially rewarding position, the satisfaction is evident. However, when a service provider can handle the tough relationships and be proud to say “I did a good day’s work”, then the reward is even greater.
What else can one do to obtain the most detail before taking on the Domestic Service career? Seek out the experienced agents who have truly been in the trenches that you are about to enter. Take advice to heart and always have pencil and paper at the ready to take notes. Research is vital, especially learning the likes and dislikes of the Principals; work with the experts. It’s easy for one’s ego to carry one forward, thinking “I can do it all” but if the proper preparation for duty isn’t done in advance it can be like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
To sum it up, when it comes to Domestic Service, we all realize we deal with wealthy, sometimes eccentric, individuals who are paying for service. Most appreciate the staff and reward good service with longevity, financial benefits, and respect – a very rewarding lifestyle career.