3.) Prepare your referees.
A friend of mine missed out on a good au pairing opportunity.When she decided to try out au pairing, she did not think of contacting her referees, so as to let them know in advance, that she was very likely going to ask them for letters of recommendation. Consequently when an interested family came along, established some rapport and asked for her references, she spent three weeks trying to get in touch with persons she had worked for, as well as trying to find a character reference. After this long waiting period, the family politely explained that they had already found an au pair.
Moral of the story: Make your arrangements way in advance!
Once you make up your mind to venture into au pairing, first find yourself two character references. These are normally people who know you well and who can vouch for your good character and conduct. It could be a colleague at work, a former teacher and the like. Character references however do not include your parents, relatives and extended family members, husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend.
Second, get in touch with people (neighbours, friends) whose children you have looked after or the people in charge of institutions where you have worked ( nursery school, Sunday schools, primary schools...) and explain your plans. Find out if these two categories of referees would be willing to write you letters of recommendation when the time comes or whether they would accept to be contacted directly (on phone) by the prospective family.
It is preferable to provide the family with your referees phone number (and or fax if they have one) as well as their physical address.
E-mails are never a first choice. This is simply because anyone can register an e-mail address and provide a fake recommendation.
Lastly, avoid letters of recommendation that are addressed to "To Whom it may concern". Instead ask the interested family their surname and address and have your referees personalize their letters of recommendation.
Step 4: Virtual Au pair Databases or Physical Au pair Agencies ?