Managing a large household in the private sector takes a certain type of person to make it a success. It requires hard work, commitment, long hours, and the ability to manage multiple projects and tasks at once. In the latest episode of Life in Private Staffing, our host Phillipa Smith sat down with Iona Pirtac, who has managed to have a successful career in household management.
There are multiple routes you can take if you’re interested in household management as a full-time career. You could move from managing another estate or office to a household, or work your way up in a specific household. Iona chose to work her way up, first at a five star hotel, and then in a private home where she eventually landed the role of household manager.
Iona first worked at the Bvlgari Hotel in London as a maid, and worked her way up to a position that included training other staff members. Working in a five star hotel is a fast-paced environment, as she describes it. You need to maintain the high level of cleanliness and presentation that people expect when they visit such a high-end establishment.
While Iona was working at the hotel, she recalls how they would have inspectors every six months who would check in as regular guests. There was always an expectation that you were professional, polite, and hard-working in everything you did. This was to ensure the reputation of the hotel was always protected.
When she moved to a private household for a Russian family in Central London, they asked her to work on a trial basis for a few days. This is not uncommon in private staffing, as the family wants to know whether you will fit into the household seamlessly and work well with the other staff members. Of course, Iona did a great job during her trial and was given a full-time position.
From there, she was able to work her way up. Now, she manages the household and is in charge of recruiting all other staff members. Her favourite role to recruit for is a nanny. She enjoys testing how people will fit in with the children, whether they will have the right mix of strictness and leniency.
As Iona is heavily involved in recruiting, we asked for her input on some of the key questions that our candidates often raise. When it comes to CVs, she prefers them to be short and to-the-point. She finds that longer CVs give too much information upfront and the message can be lost along the way. Shorter CVs leave enough room for discussion in an interview, where she can really get to know the candidate.
As much as she dislikes this part of the hiring process, she does insist that photographs are necessary with a CV. When working in a private home, presentation is very important, even a small tattoo or a green streak in someone’s hair can be an issue. Being presentable at all times is simply part of the job.
When hiring, Iona always looks for commitment, open-mindedness, and honesty. Commitment matters because she doesn’t want to go through the process of recruiting someone and have them move on to a new job in six months. When staffing for a private household, employee turnover can be jarring for the family.
She finds that open-mindedness is vital because you are working in someone’s home. You can’t judge the family, and have to be open to doing things their way and making them feel comfortable in their own space. Honesty is crucial in any job, but especially so when you’re working in a home.
Watch the full episode
Working in a private household isn’t the ideal job for everyone; you need to be uniquely suited to working within a home. If you think you have what it takes to join this interesting and rewarding sector, contact the team at Silver Swan for advice and support.
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