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Types of work include:

House Cleaning, Ironing/Laundry, Lawn mowing, Tutoring, Babysitting, Gardening, Cooking, Handy man, Pet minding and more.

For Hirers

So you want to hire someone but you don't know where to start? Here are some tips on what you need to know before you hire a helper:

1. Have a clear idea of what you want to get done

You need to have a clear mind on what you want to get done around the house. You also need to work out your budget. Having a clear mind will help you and the helper discuss and negotiate better. Without this preparation you may find yourself not knowing what to discuss with clarity.

Some Tips:

  • Write the list of tasks. Start by listing all the necessary tasks including your wish-to-do list.

  • Once you've finished listing then pick out the must-to-do tasks. These are your absolute minimum requirements.

  • Estimate the number of hours it'll take to perform the must-to-do list.

  • Allocate a rough budget based on the list.

  • Once you're happy with this you can always extend your requirements. Extend by adding tasks from your wish-to-do list based on your budget.

2. Communicate: Learn How to delegate work

2.1 Written Instructions

Can you imagine on your first day at work your boss left you without any explanation or instructions about the work involved? It is the same with housework. It is very important that the helper knows what is expected of her/him.

This might be daunting in the beginning but you'll save considerable time and frustration in the future. Every household has a personal touch or way of doing housework hence it is very difficult to achieve the desired results without clear instructions. Don't forget that if you don't get what you want then it may not be the helper's fault.

Clearly define responsibilities and tasks. This will give the helper a sense of satisfaction once the tasks are completed. This will also less likely to confuse the helper what is expected of her/him. It will create a mutual respect and a sense of professionalism on both parties.

Start by jotting down the very important things that need to be done. For example bathroom basin, shower, bath tab, floor, etc

The benefits of written instructions:

Do you remember the first time you bought your washing machine and how long it took you to figure out the settings?

It'll save your helper's time and your money if you leave brief instructions on what settings to use for different fabrics and how to start the cycle.

For Example:

Laundry manual - Washing linens:
  1. Add linens
  2. Add detergent
  3. Turn machine on
  4. Select cotton
  5. Select hot water
  6. Press start.

If you've specific setting requirements for your dryer, ironing, pool maintenance, etc then mention that too.

Do not assume the helper knows how you run your household without any guidelines. Every household is different no matter how experienced the helper is.

Detail written instructions vs simple written instructions:

You might like to decide on whether you would like to write detailed instruction or simple instruction. If you're particular on how you want things done around the house then detailed written instructions are needed. On the other hand if you don't mind how it is done as long the helper does a good job then simple instructions will suffice.

Detailed Instructions:

To write a clear detailed instruction start room by room and write each task in detail.

Living Room/Lounge Cleaning:
  1. Dust TV Cabinet, TV, Stereo
  2. Polish TV Cabinet
  3. Dust vase, picture frames, mirrors
  4. Clean carpet and rug
  5. Mop Floor using Green Wood Detergent
Master Bedroom Cleaning:
  1. Change bed linen
  2. Take to laundry for washing
  3. Make the bed
  4. Dust bed head, side tables, window
  5. Vacum and mop floor

Simple Instructions:

  1. Dust all items in all the rooms including book shelves, entertainment cabinet, etc
  2. Vacuum and mop all floor
  3. Toilet and bathroom clean toilet bowl inside/outside, shower tab, countertops and basins, mirrors
  4. Empty clean dishes from dish washer
  5. Do the laundry
  6. Do ironing

3. Hiring the Right Person

When posting a help-wanted ad, write as much information as you can about the job. This will narrow down the type of helpers that are qualified to do the job. HelpAroundTheHouse registration form allows you to put a detailed description of the job.

3.1 Do Your Research

Know about the different type of helpers. It's good to go through your priority requirements. For example if you're looking for someone to stay with your kids long term then you should note this down. A background check will indicate the stability of the helper. On the other hand, some helpers may leave a replacement when they leave so if you're okay with this you may not need to worry about stability.

3.1.1 Types of Helpers:

  • Professionals. These are professional housekeepers, child minders, lawn mowers, handy man, etc

  • Students

  • Stay At Home Mums (SAHM)

  • Others

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the different type of helpers:

3.1.2 Hiring Professionals

Advantages

  • As the name indicates these are professionals. They know and presumably enjoy what they're doing. They're depend on it to make a living. Most excel in their work.

  • Little or no training needed in the beginning.

  • If they're happy with you then they're likely to stay with you long term.

Disadvantages

  • Higher rate.

  • May have a choosing power. If not satisfied then they're likely to move to easier or better job.

3.1.3 Hiring Students

Advantages

  • Cheaper rate.

  • Most students offer a wide range of skills/services such as fixing computer, tutoring, etc as well as house cleaning.

  • If students have a year or more to finish off their study then they're likely to stay with you for that period.

  • Available after hours and weekends.

Disadvantages

  • May have little experience. You may need to invest more time in the beginning to show them how things are done around your house.

  • If the student is finishing his/her study their service might be short lived. Note that when student complete their study often they leave a replacement if the change is not an issue for you.

3.1.4 Hiring Stay At Home Mums (SAHM)

Advantages

  • Cheaper rate.

  • Long term.

  • They not only know how to do housework but they also know how to run a household.

  • Happy to take charge.

Disadvantages

  • Most SAHM are only available during school hours.

3.1.3 Hiring Others

This list include helpers who work full time in other industries but available to work after hours.

Advantages

  • Available after hours and weekends.

Disadvantages

  • May not be committed for long term.

  • May not have enough experience.

3.2 Screening

You'll need to do some screening before you invite the helper to your home.

Try to have as much communication as you can before you meet the helper. You'll save a lot of time by doing this. As mentioned earlier, there are a wide range of helpers out there with a wide range of experience and expertise. Explain to the helper all your requirements such as:

  • Detailed tasks. For example, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, ironing, etc

  • Availability. The date and time of work. This is very important if your time is not flexible.

  • The total number of hours per week or fortnight expected to work.

  • etc

Some helpers, especially students, and newly migrants have limited English so you may like to ask them if they can have a relative or friend that can interpret for them. You don't want the friend or relative to speak on behalf of the helper, you only want them to interpret. So the helper must participate in the conversation.

3.2.1 Sample Questions:

You might like to take notes for later referral here.

  • Do you have any experience doing cooking, home cleaning, pet minding, ironing work? If yes, then tell me about it.

  • How long have you worked as a cleaner, housekeeper, pet minder, etc

  • Are you available to work on Mondays at 7:00am? (If you're flexible skip availability as this will widen your success of finding a helper.)

  • Why did you leave your previous work?

  • If the helper is new to the country and doesn't have specific experience then ask about their background. Tell me a little bit about your background. Have you worked as a cleaner before?

  • Do you have any references?

    International students or newly arrived migrants may not have work references. International students often have a company or educational institute that act like references or guarantors. The same applies to newly arrived migrants. Ask if they can provide you with contacts. This can be a family sponsor, community, etc

If you've a pet you should mention this to the helper as some helpers may be uncomfortable with pets.

The communication can be through phone or email. Some helpers may not have access to their email on daily basis so telephone if you can't get in touch with them through email.

Try to create a two-way conversation. Ask question as well as encouraging the helper to ask you.

If the helper advertises for specific work such as babysitting it is not good to contact them for cleaning work. They may be pressured to say yes but they may not do a good job because of lack of experience or enthusiasm. Some babysitters may be willing to provide light housework but not a full duties as their main preference is to provide care.

You might like to do a quick simple background check here. Ask if the helper has a current police check. If the helper doesn't have a police check ask to get one and bring it with him/her to the interview. You may like to do more background checking later on.

Once you're satisfied with the above mentioned criterion it is only now that you should invite the helper to your house for interview.

Unless you're looking for one-off help to get you up to date with the housework, it is always a good practice to start with a clean and well organised home. A well-structured and clean house indicates your standard and your expectations. Chaos creates chaos so avoid chaos on first day.

If you're looking for one-off help to get you up-to-date with the housework then a pile of laundry, ironing, messy rooms, etc are predictable and perhaps acceptable.

If some reason beyond your control you couldn't get the house in order before the helper arrives then explain this to the helper otherwise they may assume that you are OK with a low standard of work.

3.3 Interview

If the helper you're interviewing is an international student or new to the country then you'll need to speak slowly and clearly. Most international students are good at following written instructions. So your written instructions will come in handy here. On the other hand if the helper is newly arrived to the country and learning English then verbal communication may be preferable, however you'll still need your written instructions for future reference.

Hiring Tips

  • As the saying goes, first impressions last. Often the first few minutes of the interview give you an idea whether you and the potential helper can get along or not.

  • Punctuality is important. This shows the reliability and dedication of the helper.

  • This is a good time to explain to the helper in detail about the tasks. Give the helper a quick tour around the house. Go through your written instructions with the helper. Give the helper as much opportunity to ask about the work. Make it interactive.

  • Take notes and encourage the helper to take notes if needed.

  • Discuss payment: number of hours and time.

  • Clarify who'll be responsible for providing whichever materials and/or tools that are required, e.g. cleaning fluids and vacuum cleaner.

  • If you're providing the materials and tools then make sure the right tools are ready ad available. The right tools will make the job easier and quicker.

  • You might like to ask if the helper has any tools or materials that he/she prefer to use.

  • You might also like to ask if there are any specific tools or materials the helper need you to provide them with.

  • Before the offer you may or may not like to do final background checking if needed. Ring your local police station for information.

  • Finally follow your instincts.

3.4 Follow up

Following the interview, be considerate and contact the helper to let them know about the outcome of the interview, whether they were successful or not.

4. Your Helper

Now that you have hired a helper what to do and not to do next:

  • It is good if you can be present on the first day. If you can't be available make sure you can be contactable over the phone to answer some questions.

  • A lot of hirers expect the helper to be perfect on the first day. This is unrealistic since every household is different it takes a while for a helper to be up to the speed.

  • Give the helper enough time to get used to your household.

  • Go through the lists of tools and materials you've provided. Explain how they work.

  • If you've valuable items on shelves it might be a good idea to explain to the helper and suggest that he/she shouldn't dust or clean the area unless the helper is very confident to do so. Accident can happen especially for time-pressed helper and you don't want to make the helper liable.

  • It is good practice to have a drink and some snacks available for your helper.

4.1 Feedback

Ongoing feedback is important in order to have a good relationship with your helper. Prepare to give feedback and develop a system for ongoing communication. If you are not at home while the helper is working, then have an ongoing phone or written communication such as email or a simple post-it note hooked on the fridge.

Some Tips on Feedback

  • Both negative and positive feedback is encouraged.

  • Address any issues/problems as they arise. Avoid leaving it to accumulate. By addressing the thing you're not happy with frankly and promptly problems are solved immediately and you and your helper get on with it. If problems are not discussed immediately then problems accumulate and the chances of you and your helper solving the issue is reduced.

  • Positive feedback is always appreciated. If you're happy with your helper performance then say so. Helpers want to please - that's their job.

  • Specific feedback is more productive than the general feedback. If you're happy the way your helper mop the floor then say I like the way you mop the floor it is nice and shiny.

  • Encourage feedback from your helper.

  • Ask if the helper is happy with the number of tasks that are given to her/him.

  • Is there anything particular that the helper is concerned about?

  • What would the helper like to see improved?

It cannot be emphasised enough how household and duties are a personal thing. If you don't like the way your helper is making the bed or folding your clothes then tell them so.

Make sure you have a system to continually replace used materials. Ask your helper to write you list of products that need replacing. Also make sure at no time the helper is left without the right tools and materials that they need to complete the job.

Always maintain professionalism. If you're continuously interrupting your helper for chatting and asking questions then don't get surprised if the helper didn't get the chance to finish the tasks. Maintain a friendly and professional environment.

Happy hiring and please tell your friends about HelpAroundTheHouse.


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