Success Stories – placements that last

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Sipping my coffee this morning, I paused and wondered why some placements work and others don’t.  Over the 20 year of private service staffing, we have had many long term placements where everyone reports in how happy they are – both employer and employee.  Then there are the others…

For some reason it is a bit harder to staff a private home. There are many reasons; no one to train the new hire, grandfathered staff that isn’t helpful or hinders out of fear, too many layers of management where no one is in charge of anything and each hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, or multiple layers of staff where no one can even get any information in fear of compromising the confidentiality agreement, principals whose lives are so busy they can’t spend time with their new hire and basically they are dropped into the shark tank – it is not productive.

After all the time, effort and money you put into finding the right match of attitude, experience and skills – you would think you would want success – but instead you get a rotating door of people that can’t assimilate with the team or comprehend your high standards.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with a household/estate or family office that has demands, they just need to be shared, reminded and not chastised if they are not “picked up” quickly. A good manager will be gentle, kind and appreciative of your efforts but will also share the right way to do something again and again until you do remember. I once read that it takes a human 7 times to learn something new.

Just because they have done the job before, YOUR house/estate is new to them.

No one, even A++/Rock Star candidate/employee can be dropped in a job without an integration period.  The best situation would be if the exiting employee were to train them but even better is if the principal themselves sat down and worked with the new hire for the first few months to get them to understand the flow and needs and systems and where to find everything!!!

Notes to the new employee; be good to yourself, give yourself time to learn.  Make mistakes, learn from them.  Write down everything your boss/employer tells you, take pictures of systems of organization so you can refer back and then write it out again, put it in a binder, read it daily – until you memorize it.

The estate and home will grow and change weekly/monthly/yearly as the family’s life elevates. Be the flexible, open, warm and understanding service provider. That is why you got into this business in the first place – right?

Now let’s go find the job openings where they have someone to train you for success!!



Job Interview Questions to ask a little differently than you might want…

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5 Questions To Avoid Asking On A Job Interview—Unless You Rephrase Them Like This

Now isn’t the time to ask point-blank about the work hours, but here’s how to get a sense of them.

5 Questions To Avoid Asking On A Job Interview—Unless You Rephrase Them Like This

You’re in the middle of a job interview, and after running through your qualifications, now it’s your turn to ask the interviewer about the position. You’ve come prepared. Without hesitation, you launch into a series of questions that you think are well thought-out. There are a handful of things you’re hoping to learn about the company and the role, and you’re pretty sure you’re phrasing your inquiries the right way.

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How Private Service Professionals Should Protect Themselves…

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We like this article and believe that you should stand up for yourself. Our only comments would be to get it in writing and if the employer doesn’t honor what they agreed upon in the first pay period; leave.

Article in the NY Times:

Isabel Escobar is a housecleaner, a board member of the advocacy group Arise Chicago and a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

Chicago — For eight years, I worked as a housecleaner for a millionaire who lived in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. I took the bus across town three times a week, often to work in an empty house because my employer was frequently away, traveling for business.

That also meant I got paid only when I saw him — in lump sums, often months apart. At first, I didn’t mind this setup, but soon, months would pass. By the end of 2008, my employer owed me $10,000 — and had stopped returning my calls.

I was frantic. It wasn’t just that these were wages for weeks and weeks of work I’d already done, but I had bills to pay and my son’s tuition at a special high school.

I went over to my employer’s place one day, hoping to confront him, and finally found him home. I asked when I’d get paid what I was owed. He didn’t answer, but instead offered a one-off payment of $1,000 to settle the debt. When I refused that, he told me to leave and, obviously assuming I was undocumented, threatened to have me deported. (In fact, I had legal status as a permanent resident on grounds of political asylum.)

It wasn’t the first time I’d been treated like this. I’d been a housekeeper for more than a decade, after coming to Chicago from Guatemala in 1989 to escape the civil war. In general, the work wasn’t bad, though it was hard on my joints as I got older. I often felt I was learning new things, and I always took pride in maintaining clean and tidy homes for people.

But I soon found out how some employers tried to take advantage of an immigrant with the broken English I spoke at the time. One woman wanted to pay me $60 for two full days of work — after we’d previously agreed on a higher amount. Another employer liked to leave pornographic magazines lying around after I started working for him.

In any regular workplace, this type of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. But for domestic workers like me, who do their jobs in the privacy of people’s homes, there isn’t much we can do. If we say something, we get fired.

Which is why the Gold Coast millionaire probably thought I would just go away. But he was wrong. I took him to court.

When I filed my wage theft lawsuit, I was shocked to learn how few rights I had under Illinois law. There are about two million domestic workers in the United States — people like me, who clean homes or care for children and seniors. Many of us are minority or immigrant women, and many work for less than minimum wage — either because domestic work is not covered by the federal labor laws or because domestic workers are also excluded from state protections and benefits.

Fighting my lawsuit gradually turned me into an activist, and I began to speak out about my case. The more I did, the more I met other domestic workers who told me their stories; many had suffered worse mistreatment than I had. Taking inspiration from efforts in other states like California and New York to pass laws that protect the rights of domestic workers, we began campaigning for similar legislation in Illinois.

It took awhile, but we won. In August, Illinois became the seventh state to adopt a law to protect our rights, joining Massachusetts, California, New York, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut.

Under the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, more than 35,000 housecleaners, nannies and home care workers in Illinois are fully covered by labor and human rights laws for the first time in the state’s history. Whether you’re paid in cash, or are undocumented, as a domestic worker you are now guaranteed a state minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, a meal break in every shift and a day of rest each week.

The day of my final court date, my employer met me outside the courtroom and tried to make a final settlement. He raised his offer to $1,500. I said no, out of dignity for myself and for my work. Fortunately, I was vindicated because, a few minutes later, the judge ruled in my favor. But it had taken five long, grinding years to get justice. No one should have to go through that.

That was why the day that Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the domestic workers bill into law meant so much to me. Housecleaners and care workers will no longer have to live in the shadows, enduring abusive situations, in Illinois.

Employers will know that our work deserves respect, dignity and protection. And workers will know that the law is on our side.

My job now is to see that every state in the country adopts a bill of rights like Illinois’.

Donna Shannon’s -7 Deadly Modern Interview Questions

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Donna Shannon has crafted a well thought out article on how to best prepare for your interview. As we know, in private service we cannot do research on the principal we are meeting but we can know more about the job and how it relates to our past experience. As always, Feigon Hamilton wishes you much success in your job search. If you ever have any questions, we are here to help as well. FH

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7 Deadly Modern Interview Questions
May 31, 2016

Throughout the history of job interviews, some have earned a reputation for being difficult questions to answer. However, many of these such as “What is your greatest weakness” or “Where do you see yourself in five years” have been so overused that most people have a canned response to them.

The latest trends in interviewing are hatching a new breed of interview questions. Instead of approaching the interview like a fencing match, companies are trying to determine a candidate’s personality as well as their abilities. With the modern emphasis on workplace culture, it’s no surprise that they need to figure out what makes these applicants tick. null&midToken=AQH1si7QeCKUaA&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=0U8gdWKUEaEng1

Salary Negotiation Tips from Forbes – Liz Ryan

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To Private Service Providers:

To those of you that either work with a recruiter or search on your own, you will invariably come across a potential employer that will readjust the salary that is originally offered or posted. Instead of tap dancing your way through the process, it is a good idea to be prepared with some ideas that will make you look intelligent – you have done your research and can explain why you feel the position is a certain value, considerate – you have empathy for the employer’s situation but still believe the position is worth X amount of dollars, and finally you display the proper protocol – always be positive and upbeat.

Do not think they did a bait and switch, many times this is coming from an area that is not your business such as a financial loss, reassessing their payroll expenses, speaking to their friends and colleagues to find out they were way above the mark when they posted the job – and more.

Whatever you do, make sure it is in writing when you finally come to an agreement (if you take the job).

We at Feigon Hamilton are your advocates and are here to assist you through this process.

Wishing you much success with your job search! FH

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Nothing excites us more than a successful placement. When both the employer and the new employee express their happiness. Yes, happiness! Sounds so simple but in the Private Service industry we sometimes miss this part due to the formality of the job.

So what is this story you might ask; trying to get me to the punchline….well a lovely candidate of ours spent several years working as a day cleaner but was ready for the next step into executive housekeeper. Big jump yes but with the assistance of the estate manager, a good support team AND with her positive attitude, she is humming along or whistling while she works.

I have to say, her attitude was the best. She is cheery, open, aware, cognoscente of her surroundings and not afraid to roll her sleeves up to get things done. More so, she also sees what is not necessary but takes it upon herself to bring a little touch of service to areas that might not normally require that extra attention. But guess what? Everyone was ecstatic when she brought drinks out to the working crew that I heard about it. When it gets back to the staffing agency, you know they are happy!

I won’t say more due to confidentiality, but just had to share good news once again in an industry that tends to not give many accolades.

Don Turner featured in Estate Manor Magazine: Being a Male Celebrity Assistant

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Our friend and colleague Don  Turner has been in the news lately. He is enjoying sharing his knowledge and insight on our private service industry. This article was originally posted in Estate Manor Magazine by Andrew Tilston:

There is a certain gender stigma attached to specific industries within the workplace. To the lay person, a Personal or Executive Assistant is usually seen as a female;both television and cinema often depict a successful business mogul having his or her own female assistant. The reality is that the role of an assistant has become a lot more varied in its nature which has opened up many doors for males to gain a foothold in this exciting and rewarding industry.

Meet Don Turner, an esteemed estate and lifestyle manager to some of America’s most successful, intelligent and talented individuals and families. With Don’s experience as a multi-unit luxury estate manager, celebrity assistant to a Grammy award winning artist, bi-coastal executive assistant to a successful company CEO and as a lifestyle manager to a prominent philanthropic family, he is certainly up there with the most high-profile of global assistants.

At a very early age Don always had an intrinsic desire to be of service and to assist others. He found joy and fulfillment in the simplest of places; even when delivering newspapers with the utmost care and attention as a paperboy. During his school years, Don was the president of multiple extracurricular clubs to aide his schoolmates in realising and unleashing their potential and natural ability. Up on graduating, Don’s passion for leadership ushered him through a variety of management and support functions across diverse industries and then a natural progression into the health and fitness industry. For over a decade, Don had a very successful career – firstly as a trainer, then into the sales department and finally into management.

With the management side of things he was able to amalgamate his leadership qualities and his desire to help people improve their daily lives. It then dawned on Don that he wanted to be of service to the world on a large, universal scale.

“One day I was approached by one of the members who was the president of a successful bi-coastal investment firm.   He mentioned he had an assistant position available and asked me if I would be interested. I immediately said ‘no, that sounds awful’ along with a big chuckle.  But he was serious and asked me to at least have a meeting with him to discuss it in further detail. We actually ended up meeting few times and the more we talked about it; and he made it very attractive financially. Something inside of me said YES.”

“That YES would eventually make sense, however, I started the new job terrified that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Ironically I found myself enjoying it right away and even more so as each work day passed – and I was fairly good at it!  But I still needed to wrap my head around what it meant to be an ‘Assistant’ and then once I figured it out, would it be fulfilling enough for me? At that moment I found my YES!”

Changing careers can be a daunting prospect for many, it involves a lot of self-auditing to enable you to identify your attributes and skill-set which can determine suitable industries in which to take the plunge into. Don’s leap from health and fitness management into the world of lifestyle management and assistance are not worlds apart as they both involve an inter-personal level of service which is fine tuned towards the preferences and desires of the client – but in an industry which is unequivocally dominated by females, it is interesting to understand the male perspective when moving into the world of personal assistants.

“I must say ‘over 40, male assistant‘ doesn’t read really well on paper, especially in the corporate world.  I’ve seen that perception change a few times, but that’s if you can get to the interview stage.”

“To some, there is something very attractive about a young, bright, fresh out of school tech wizard. However, others may equally value experience, intuition and wisdom. I found that the majority of assistant positons, were looking for a female.  I’d be lying if I said the Mrs Doubtfire or Tootsie route didn’t cross my mind more than once or twice.”

“Not everyone will agree with my view on this, but I feel if you hire an assistant, especially one that works in your home, you should have exactly the type of assistant you want – being PC goes out the window, it doesn’t apply here.   If you are more comfortable with a female, then you should have a female.  If you want an older/or younger person in the role, then that’s what you should get.”

“It’s very easy to make this industry about us –’my goals, my skills, my perfect role,’ – but that’s not coming from a service heart. The Client needs to feel comfortable working with Assistant closely in their private home.”

We all have influencers in our own specific niche, our personal ‘heroes’ help us in terms of our methods and strategies when approaching business and building relationships, as well as acting as an inspiration for us to go on and achieve greater things. It is always interesting to know the influencers who are constantly pushing boundaries and increasing the profile of the private staffing industry.

“There are many people who inspire me for different reasons. Because of the discretional nature of the industry along with the fast paced, long hour workdays, I’m constantly inspired by those individuals who still find the time to share, network, support and teach.”

“I’m a huge fan of the of the work of Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans who provide training, tools and inspiration for those who are at or want to be at the top of their field.  I’ve taken their Ultimate Assistant Course four times and numerous individual coaching sessions. Victoria Rabin for her tenacity and entrepreneurship. The magnanimous Andrew Lowrey for championing service excellence, the grace of Susan Feigon and Taly Russel as well as ‘superheroes’ such as Nicky Christmas, MJ Lupton, Brooke Stone and Brian Peele.” ….

Continuing reading at source:

How Time Change; New Domestics NYT article

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Dylan Leonard Brown is all of 30, with a master’s in psychology and an expansive résumé that includes three years working as an estate manager for a former ambassador and overseeing a household staff of 12, along with three properties, one yacht, numerous automobiles and a multimillion dollar annual budget. Mr. Brown also planned around 100 events every year, including a three-day colloquium on human trafficking and an orchestral concert. (The ambassador was an amateur composer, so Mr. Brown hired an orchestra and choir, auditioned soloists and hired street canvassers to hand out fliers at the Gay Pride Parade in Boston to drum up interest.)


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