• Work and Travel
Posted August 5, 2019

Framing Your Au Pair Experience

Practical tips for au pairs on the job hunt.

By Cultural Care Au Pair

As an au pair, the things you’re learning about yourself and the world, the people you’re meeting, and the places you’re seeing all amount to an incredible year (or more!) of growth.

 

And we’re not just talking about personal growth—we’re talking about professional growth, too! Often times, au pairs don’t realize that their experiences in the USA are making them valuable candidates for jobs after they return home. Why is that?

 

Well, it’s easier for au pairs to see the ways you’re growing personally—you’re becoming more independent, more confident, and more self-sufficient every day. Even the little things are helping you become more capable, like short trips to the Supermarket in America, or by organizing daily activities with your host kids. But through these same experiences, au pairs are developing marketable skills and a stronger sense of professionalism!

 

Cultural Care Au Pair is here to help you understand how to talk about your au pair experience in the professional setting once you’ve returned home, because we want our au pairs to succeed and continue growing long after your program year is over.

 

We hear, time and again, that au pairs don’t list their experience in the USA on their resume or CV—because they don’t, in the moment, recognize that they’re learning things that will help them in everyday professional situations.

 

The truth is: Moving to the USA to become an au pair is incredible work experience, and any employer would think so. Being an au pair is a really impressive thing to have on your resume. All you need are the tools and the language to incorporate your au pair journey into the next steps of your career—whatever it may be.

 

How to Stand Out in the Job Market

 

Au pairs can set themselves up for success in the job market by highlighting their transferable skills. Transferable skills are the general abilities you develop that are useful across a range of different jobs and industries. They’re a standout skillset that helps you grab the attention of hiring managers, and they’re a crucial part of a strong resume, CV and cover letter.

 

Being an au pair can set you up for a range of different jobs and opportunities after your return home—maybe they’re childcare-related, maybe they’re not! But the one thing every single au pair has in common is that through their experience as an au pair, they’re developing the transferable skills they need.

 

Let’s break down the idea of transferable skills into an even easier-to-understand way. There are two kinds of transferable skills that employers look for:

 

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

 

Hard skills are abilities that you’re taught—they’re often learned in school, through certifications or in previous work experience (like being an au pair!) Hard skills are specific to a certain job or role, and they are often the baseline skills a candidate must have to even be considered for an interview in a more specialized industry such as Marketing, Accounting or Analytics. Hard skills are also quantifiable, and their proficiency can often be measured.

 

Soft skills are traits that speak to your work etiquette and personality. These skills are non-measurable, subjective skills that aren’t specific to any one job or career. They help define how well a person adapts within a job—and how they interact with others, in a team environment, and how they manage and delegate responsibilities on their own.

 

The great news? As an au pair, you have likely developed—or are developing—both hard skills AND soft skills!

 

Hard skills you can develop as an au pair (whether it’s through school, life experience or immersion in American life) include:

 

  • Typing
  • Writing
  • Math
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Software Programs
  • Social Media Literacy
  • Foreign Languages
  • Photography
  • Computer Sciences

 

Soft skills you can develop as an au pair (through day-to-day responsibilities with your host children, working with your host parents to complete tasks or being independent in a new country and new culture) include:

 

  • Communication
  • Problem-Solving/Analytical Ability
  • Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Professionalism
  • Relationship-Building
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Maturity

 

Interviewing for your Next Job

 

When it comes to in-person interviews, people can understandably get a little nervous. But with the right tools and language, you can impress interviewers with your au pair experience! Sometimes, it’s just about framing your experience in the right light.

 

So, imagine you sit down for a job interview that you are really excited about, and they ask you this question: “So, you were an au pair in the USA? What did you do?”

 

There are a few different ways you could answer this. But the key is, in your answer, to highlight the hard and soft skills you’ve gained as an au pair! An example of a bad response would be: “I babysat for an American family and traveled for a year. I also took some classes.” That answer doesn’t get to the heart of what you did as an au pair—or what you learned!

 

So instead, answer with something like this: “I gained international work experience and improved my English fluency.” A statement like this shows that you were adaptable, mature and independent. Let’s look at some more bad reponses vs. good responses to that first question.

 

Question: “So, you were an au pair in the USA? What did you do?”

 

Bad response: “I mostly watched my host kids during the week and hung out with my friends on the weekend.” Why is this a bad response? Because it’s too passive, and not at all descriptive!

 

Good response: “I became an effective communicator and learned how to get along with different types of people.” This is a great response because it highlights communication skills and your talents at relationship-building.

 

Let’s try one more set of examples …

 

Question: “So, you were an au pair in the USA? What did you do?”

 

Bad response: “Well, uhhhh, I did a lot of things. It was a cool experience! Lots of fun.” This response won’t tell the interviewer anything about your au pair year—and you’ll come off as uncaring or apathetic.

 

Good response: “Taking care of four young children taught me how to manage my time, adapt to changes, and take charge.” This is a response that employers will love! Why? Because it shows you’re capable of time-management, adaptability and leadership.

 

As you can see, words matter. Both in an interview, and on your CV! They help shape the narrative of your au pair experience for potential employers, and paint the picture of what it meant for you to be in the USA, out of your comfort zone, learning every day.

Cultural Care Au Pair
Cultural Care Au Pair

Cultural Care Au Pair here! We believe that cultural exchange makes the world a better place – and so we’ve made it our life’s mission to help au pairs have enriching experiences in the USA. When we’re not helping au pairs travel, learn and grow in America, we’re probably eating candy from around the world and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

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