Should you care about domestic worker recommendation letters?
One of the most frequently asked questions by employers who opt for direct hire is that: how can I know the candidates’ work quality when there are no recruitment agencies screening candidates for me?
Employers who want to hire domestic helpers with proven track records can rely on recommendations from previous employers. A recommendation can let you know that a helper’s work was appreciated and can tell you a lot about her strengths and weaknesses.
The merit of recommendations
During the recruitment process, a recommendation letter gives you an idea of what to expect from the domestic worker. In a recommendation, a previous employer may share the main duties of the domestic helper and if you are lucky you get to read/hear about the cooking skills of a helper or how great she is with kids.
You have an overall idea of how happy the previous employer was. If the recommendation is not good, you can take this into account in your overall decision.
Contacting previous employers
Some employers prefer to speak to the candidate’s current or previous employer to better understand the domestic worker’s previous performance. But before seeking recommendations, you should decide what skills your ideal domestic helper should have.
When calling the employer, be specific with your questions to find out more about the domestic worker:
- How did the domestic helper play with kids and how did she discipline them?
- Does she cook from recipes or does the employer give her the freedom to choose what to cook?
- Which household duties might the domestic helper need to improve on?
- What does her usual workday entail?
However, it is not always easy to get hold of previous or current employers. Some employers may not want their domestic helper to share their contact details, or the domestic worker may be worried about what the employer will say. If a domestic worker decides to leave her employer due to ill-treatment, that employer may be upset and could give her a bad recommendation.
Some employers have found that the references were completely different from the reality and wonder why the previous employer wrote such a glowing recommendation. Bear in mind that a relationship is a two-way street: what does work for one family may not work for yours.
The recommendation should work as a plus. In the end, it is you who decide on what you feel comfortable with. A domestic helper’s skills, work experience and her attitude during the interview should be more important – trust your gut. If you find recommendation incredibly important, then insist to have one. If you don’t find it crucial, don’t let it be a deal breaker because others say so.