Hiring Household Help: An Agency or An Ad?

What You Need To Know Before Hiring Household Help

Recently my wife and I found ourselves in the situation of needing to hire a nanny/housekeeper. We’re both extremely busy and we thought it’d be a good idea to have someone come over for three to four hours a day during the week. Well, little did we know that our decision to hire household help would become one of the most overwhelming experiences of our life.

Why We Didn’t Go With An Agency

At first, we were going to go with an agency. It was the perfect plan. It’d be simple. We’d call them up, they’d send us one of their employees and we’d be good to go. Then, when my wife’s mother heard what we were planning, our perfect plan came shattering down around us.

See, it seems that the agencies aren’t always as reputable and honest as they’d like you to think they are. After a little research, we found out that some of them don’t even run background checks on their employees (even though they say they do). In fact, I wound up talking to two people who had used the service we were thinking of using. It turns out they had both had things stolen from their homes when the agency help was working there.

At first, I couldn’t understand why such a high-priced agency would be hiring people who would do such things. Then I found out that while we may be paying the agency a pretty penny, the people working for them are lucky if they get minimum wage. Well, there went that idea.

Placing An Ad

Our next step was t place a help-wanted ad in the local paper. I am not exaggerating when I say we got close to forty calls off of that one ad. Out of the forty calls that came in, my wife decided to interview seven candidates. She said it was pretty easy to narrow the list down, just by the way some of the people behaved on the phone. So we interviewed seven people.

The Hire

Out of the seven people we interviewed, four wouldn’t consent to background checks. Get real! We’re obviously not going to let someone take care of our kids if they won’t let us do a background check. We really liked two of the three people who consented to the background check and we wound up going with the one who happily tossed the ball our dog dropped at her feet (the other one kicked the ball away). I think we got someone who will fit in well with the whole family (including the dog) and for a lot less than what the agency was going to charge.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is this… If you’re going to hire household help, do it yourself. Yes, it’s frustrating at times and yes, you need to sort through a bunch of nut jobs to find the good candidates and yes, you also need to pay for a background check; but, if in the end it means you’re hiring someone you can trust and someone who will do good work, then isn’t it worth it in the end?


This old adage comes to mind: "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself". I see many instances of that from day to day.

Your articles are interesting and informative


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