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"It gives me great pleasure to highly recommend HEA! The workers are very professional, work harder than any other agency I have used and most importantly, a pleasure to be around. HEA has helped us staff in the Hamptons, NYC and our boat — and had applicants available to interview the same day we inquired. Hands down the best in the business!!!"

— Kimberley Hatchett

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Domestic Professionals book
How to Find, Hire and Keep The Right Domestic Professionals

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Household Staffing > Successful Domestic Hiring

Developing a Clear Picture of Your Ideal Household Staff Member – the Key to Successful Household Staffing

Successful staffingOne of the most valuable things that you can do to find the right household employee for your unique needs and preferences is to carefully think through exactly what you're looking for at the very start of your employee search. This single factor — clearly defining what you're looking for for the domestic position at hand — is, perhaps, the key element that leads to successful household staffing.

As simple as it may sound, the failure to properly define what and who is needed is one of the leading causes of frustration, unnecessary expense, and failed employer-employee matches. By being clear on your household position's requirements and the type of domestic employee you want, you will massively increase your chances of finding a great person who will stay with you for years to come.

For example, if you have a primary and a secondary residence, and you're looking to hire a House Manager who will travel to your secondary residence and work there seasonally on weekends, then you would want to find someone whose profile includes a willingness to travel  between residences and a willingness to work on weekends. A House Manager with otherwise great experience but obligations or preferences that preclude travel and weekend work would not be a good fit for the position at hand. While this may seem like an obvious point, it is more common than one might think for details such as those just described to be improperly covered, especially during initial interviews.

Key Household Staffing Job-Related Questions to Ask Yourself

So, what exactly should you do to get clear about who and what you need? Hiring and Keeping the Best People by Harvard Business School Press offers sound advice on what questions to ask yourself to successfully gain clarity. Since Hiring and Keeping the Best People is focused on business hiring, I've modified the questions to make them applicable for domestic hiring.

  • What are the main responsibilities and tasks required for the household job?
  • What experience, skills, abilities, and education are necessary?
  • Which personal characteristics are you seeking? Do you need someone who is hands-on, detail-oriented, classically trained, etc.?
  • How would you characterize your household's culture? Is it formal or informal, structured or more open?
  • What is your personal management style (e.g., authoritative, consultative, participative, etc.), and what sort of person would be able to work best in the job given that style?

Three Strategies to Help You Determine the Household Employee to Hire

The late business staffing expert Robert Half recommended a number of sound strategies in his book, Robert Half on Hiring, and I believe his ideas apply equally well to domestic hiring.  Three of the most powerful strategies to help you determine who would be best suited for your household job are listed below.

  1. Identify two or three characteristics that you believe are most essential to a candidate's ability to do the job well. By determining in your mind the key characteristics required, you'll help yourself to stay focused on what's most important during the domestic hiring process.
  2. Identify two or three negative aspects of the job, and then think about what sort of individual could best handle them. Examples of what might be considered negative aspects (at least for some candidates) include a requirement for occasional night work; a requirement for six-day work weeks with long hours; and the need to travel to multiple residences throughout the year.
  3. Think about past high-performers. If you were happy with the last household employee (or the last couple of people) in the position you're looking to fill, then it's a good idea to determine what, specifically, led to their good performance. Then, note these characteristics at the top of your requirements list. Of course, it's important to guard against trying to find a clone of a successful former employee; you may be left searching for a replacement for a long time.

Super Predictors of On-the-Job Success

Assuming the domestic candidates on your shortlist each have the core experience, skills, abilities, and intelligence required for the job at hand, what factors should you look at most closely to optimize your chances of making a great, long-term hire? With the myriad factors available for assessing candidates, wouldn't it be enormously valuable to know which ones you should think about most? Fortunately, current research can point us in the right direction.

Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology, a firm which uses predictive data and other current technologies to help employers make smart hiring decisions, identifies four "Super Elements" for assessing candidates in his 2017 book, The Best Team Wins. These Super Elements are attitude, accountability, past-related job success, and cultural fit. If a candidate rates favorably on each of these four measures, you can expect there to be high odds that they will do well in the position at hand. 

Cultural fit is especially important:  it's critical that a new domestic employee has similar, shared values to those of your household. Household culture can be a bit of a gray area, but it makes sense to try to think about your household's core values before you meet with applicants. Whoever you hire must be able to work well in your particular environment and with the other individuals in the environment, including the principals and their family, managers, and other domestic staff members. Sometimes candidates who may seem like superstars on the face of things would be better suited for employment elsewhere because the cultural fit is simply not there. Carefully consider how much authentic interest an applicant shows in your available position. Remember, similar values + real interest in the job = a high chance of successful domestic match.


Looking to learn more about today's best practices for hiring household staff?  Take advantage of our special offer below!

Domestic Professionals book

Principals, Managers & Assistants – Now you can request a complimentary copy of the newly released book for household employers by Hamptons Employment Agency, Inc. Founder and President, Aleksandra Kardwell…

How to Find, Hire, and Keep the Right Domestic Professionals

The Household Employer's Guide to Hiring Great Employees Who Will Stay for Years

Request your complimentary copy today by clicking here or on the book image at left. 

Or, contact us today for a free, no-obligation, privacy-assured phone consultation. Give us a call at one of our four locations listed below. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your domestic staffing needs.

Hamptons Office:  631-204-1100
New York City Office: 212-521-4373
Boston Office:  617-800-4701
Florida Office:  561-866-2633

Or, use our brief and easy online Staffing Inquiry Form.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding your Household Staffing needs.