No Matter Where You Are...Enjoy the Break You Deserve!

No Matter Where You Are...Enjoy the Break You Deserve!

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Set Your Boundaries At Home

When you are not used to having staff working in your home, it can be hard to clearly define the boundaries. It's easy to mix business with pleasure, especially when your employees are working within such close quarters of your private life. However, we can't say this enough: set your boundaries at home! It is not to play the role of bad cop, but to prevent that from ever needing to be played in the first place. It is a tricky road to navigate, but the work/life balance is as important for you as it is for your staff. Our rules:

Keep a schedule. You are running late from work, your spouse has a PTA meeting, you were dying to get your haircut after work. Fine! But if your nanny is supposed to work 9-5, then your nanny is working 9-5. If you must ask your nanny to stay late, it is only customary to give proper notice and make sure they are ok with the extra hours. From our experience, most nannies do not mind picking up some extra hours here and there IF they are told in advance. Their time is just as valuable, and they too have worked a long day. 
Compensate accordingly. In line with the above: if your staff has to work extra hours than their regular schedule, it certainly shouldn't be for free. Does your housekeeper have to drive out of her way (and after hours) to drop a package off at Grandma's? Make sure she knows her hard work isn't going unnoticed. 
One word: Respect. This should be at the top of the list, and at the forefront of the mind, but one of the easiest ways you can show respect to your employees is by following these simple steps. 
Emotional dependence isn't the best medicine. Your personal assistant isn't (likely) a licensed therapist. Your housekeeper isn't an errand service. Your nanny should be respected by, not abused, by the children. By establishing boundaries, it is much easier to manage expectations and show that you respect their role in your home.
Leave a paper trail. By providing a clear job description on an interview, a list of rules and guidelines in a contract, and a confidentiality agreement, it is so important to demonstrate that you are treating this position as a formal job. Lay out their schedule, compensation & benefits, annual reviews, do's & don't's,  and you'll will both be clear on what to expect--just one more way to prevent those "he said, she said" moments from arising. And a confidentiality agreement is becoming standard in most domestic staffing positions because when you're working in such a personal aspect of someone's life, you should understand how vital privacy is to the family. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Summer Nannies

Playing at the park, enjoying the sunshine, swimming in the pool, chasing after the ice cream truck...

No, we're not just talking about kids! We're currently recruiting for Chicago & the North Shore's top summer nannies! What are we looking for? We're looking for teachers, camp counselors, college students, & tutors! While a summer nanny is most often responsible for the fun activities listed above, light housekeeping or errands may be part of the job description. Send us an email with your resume and why YOU should be one of Alter Ego Concierge's top summer nannies!

Visit us online at or send us an email at 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How To Find Supernanny

Is it possible to find Supernanny? Mary Poppins? Well, for starters: start preparing your interview questions. In addition to using an agency to prescreen for your ideal candidate, families must be ready to ask the right questions to get to know your new nanny. Many families don't realize that they should interview their potential nanny the same way they would interview ANY future staff member. This person will be working in your home, caring for your children, and often being your "perfect substitute" when you can't be there. Don't you want to know that you are on the same page with parenting philosophies, discipline, and their plans for the future? 

Here are some of our top questions to ask when interviewing your nanny:

1.) Why do you want to be a nanny? Do you see this as your long-term career? If not, what are your future goals?
2.) What are your views on discipline? 
3.) Tell me about a typical day when you would be working. What are some activities you would plan, places you would be comfortable taking our children to, etc?
4.) What is your ideal nanny position, and role within a family?
What are your long term goals?
5.) What did you like most about your previous position?
6.) What did you like least about your previous position?
7.) Are there any additional duties you will not be comfortable doing, such as light housekeeping or cooking?
8.) What do you think sets you aside from other nannies? Why should we pick you as our nanny?

These are just a few of our favorites. The advantage of using a nanny agency is that typically you will get a good feel of the candidate on the nanny's application, so usually this is an exciting process of deciding between several great candidates!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Your Resume Is Your Passport

The unemployment rate for Illinois was at 11.4% in February, which was up .1% since January! That makes selling yourself on an interview that much more vital. However, before you can even score the interview you have to get one--and your resume is your passport. Here are some of our favorite tips for writing a great resume:

1.) Take the time to tailor your resume. Seems easy enough, right? We can't tell you how many of our candidates make the mistake of sending in a "general" resume when they apply. This is a huge mistake! Everyone should have a great general resume--meant to BUILD on and tailor to your job search. Are you looking for a personal assistant position? Don't send us your resume with the objective geared towards working at a marketing firm. These extra steps take a matter of minutes, but they are your first impression and mean so much.

2.) Proofread, spell check, double check, phone a friend, and proofread again. You're interviewing and are trying to say you are detail-oriented, but there is a simple spelling error on your resume. You just gave them reason to question your abilities. Why start off treading water?

3.) Articulate your position. But don't get too cute. There are many people applying for the job, and your 3 page resume isn't appreciated. Point taken!

4.) Honesty is the best policy. Did you really manage a team of 10, or did you work alongside a team of 10? The truth will come out sooner rather than later, so it's best to honest from the start. It doesn't mean you won't get the position, but the employers want a realistic gauge of how much training will be needed.

5.) Are there gaps? Fill them in. Did you not work from 2002-2004 because you were volunteering in another country? Say so! If your positions at different companies were so short because they were contractual jobs, then say so! These gaps work against you--figure the explanations into your resume.

What are your favorite resume writing tips? Send them in and we would love to share them!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is A Nanny Really An Employee? What About A Housekeeper?

Clients and candidates alike often ask this question, especially when deciding whether to use a household payroll company such as GTM or Breedlove & Associates. We're glad to give you the simplest answer: YES! If you earn at least $1,600 and/or are working for a client in their home on a consistent basis, then you are considered an employee of that client. 

What does this mean for you? That depends. For most families, regardless of income level, child care tax breaks offset most, if not all, of the employer tax costs. For candidates, it is so important to pay on the books because it gives you proof that you are working and paying taxes. If you try to buy a home, a car, or apply for a credit card, it is very important to have proof that you are legally earning that money. Plus, your taxes contribute to your Social Security fund, Medicare taxes, and federal & state withholdings. What if you get laid off, and can't apply for Unemployment because you have no proof of your previous job? Food for thought!

Check out and for more information.

Meet The Organized You.

Hi & welcome to Alter Ego Concierge!

Finding the perfect substitute for yourself to help you manage your life. That is what we do at Alter Ego Concierge.

Everyone who hires a personal assistant or professional nanny or other domestic staff wants to find someone who is just like them - a second self that will be a perfect substitute when you can't be there. You need to trust that the job is done right....the way you would do it if you had the time. Whether it's full or part-time staff or simply someone you can call when you need an extra hand, we will put you in touch with your Alter Ego!

Our approach is simple: we believe in relationships. From the beginning, we believe that developing a strong relationship is vital in order to properly understand your needs, preferences, and to help you find the client or the candidate who is going to best suit your needs. We prescreen every candidate we represent, personally speak with all of their references, and our accredited background investigator performs a thorough check on social security, motor vehicle, and criminal history. After every successful placement, we believe in ongoing communication with our clients and candidates to continue to build on every relationship. 

Meet The Organized You: We Promise You'll Love It.