There are plenty of metaphors around becoming a Private Service Professional, but the one that resonates most for me relates to samurai sword making. Strong PSPs are forged in fire by highly trained experts and tempered by experience to become extremely valuable tools to Principals. Being a PSP is unlike any job you have ever imagined. So is the process of finding a private service job. Since sweating in training saves bleeding in combat, here’s some painfully honest advice for your private service job hunt.
According to one study, “About 0.7% of the United States is currently in a federal or state prison or local jail. If this number seems unworthy of the term “mass incarceration,” consider that 0.7% is just shy of 1%, or one out of a hundred. And a little more context shows that this fraction is actually incredibly high.” Finding any job can be challenging if you have a felony on your criminal record, and perhaps more so in the Private Service environment. Why the difference? PSPs don’t work in an office but inside a private home. Everyone has a say over who enters their home, even if they are paid to be there. Don’t for a second consider leaving anything like a felony out of what you disclose to your potential employer. Discovery of something you left out is always worse than declaring something unfavorable up front, even if it jeopardizes getting the job. While something like a DUI from 7 years ago, may not eliminate you from consideration for a job – it will help me ascertain your intention about being transparent and honest should we find it during the background checks and interviews.
Divorce, debts, probate, and civil suits; there are any number of legal entanglements everyday people can find themselves in, but they can be easily explained away as long as they don’t involve a previous employer. Legal issues like debt or tax collections and civil judgments can impact your employer directly with orders to garnish wages. One of the worse things a Private Service Professional can do is to have a negative impact on the home, it’s counter to the core of what we do. So it stands to reason that adding a potential headache is not going to work in your favor. Take the time to get your affairs in order, then take another shot. You can always think of it this way – If you can’t keep your OWN affairs in order, how can I or your future employer trust that you are going to keep the Principal’s affairs in order?
Everyone believes they have good communication skills. But if you find yourself frustrated that it seems no one understands you, stop and find the common denominator. Good communication skills make everything in your life easier. Not only can you get your point across, but you can ask the right questions to help others get their jobs done. What’s the secret to good communication? Clarity and brevity. Say what needs saying, listen to understand, and never take anything personally. Remember, communications around getting things done help you in your personal and professional life. So get out there and practice. Watch communication experts on YouTube, one of my favorites is Julian Treasure. Take these skills as seriously as you would learning a technical skill for a tech job.
Background checks for work as a Private Service Professional are thorough, so expect questions and queries about your background, credit, and a good review of your social media accounts. Although nobody is trying to be the thought police, avoid negativity on a public forum. It is OK to hold educators, agencies, industry vendors, and associations accountable, but do so with decorum and positivity or in private. Private Service Professionals are an opinionated breed who stand fast in the perceptions of how something should be done. But remember, just like in the home, your way may not be the right way for everyone else. Our strong opinions and passion for the industry occasionally override our better judgment. I would be hesitant to work with someone who may drag my name through the mud, I have enough “haters”, and I don’t need to collect anymore, so I’ll just avoid the risk. Yes, we live in a wonderful country that affords us free speech, but one thing we’ve learned from the Cancel Culture, we also retain the right to judge someone for what they say. You can choose to post whatever you would like to on social media, but for every action the is a reaction that will either shrink or expand your job prospects. The internet has a long memory.
Pro-Tip: Never Take It Personally
PSPs work people-intensive jobs. Whether aspiring to become a Household Manager, Estate Manager, or Private Chef, dealing with a variety of people and personalities is part of the job. Every Principal, employee, vendor, or colleague will critique you, your management style, the way you mixed that drink, the way you set the tray down, the way you chased the raccoon with the broom when it was trying to eat the cat’s food. That’s why PSPs with a ‘thick skin’ are especially successful. So, what’s the secret to being ‘thick-skinned?’ Never take it personally. As a recent article from Psychology Today suggests, “Here’s an important rule for life: It’s not all about you. To develop a thick skin, you must first remember that you are not the center of the universe. Yes, sorry to say, you are not the fixed point around which the universe turns.” Best of all, this advice works on the job and off the clock. Critical feedback is a part of any job and getting sound advice or hearing feedback from the Principal from a recruiter is what makes you better and helps you grow. It’s imperative you learn to take feedback with grace and apply it so you can get the better position, the next job, or do your job better.
If you are especially sensitive to hearing hard truths about yourself, I recommend taking a look at this article from Forbes on Cognitive Dissonance.
Pro-Tip: The Bigger Picture
Personal sacrifice is a central tenet of being a PSP. Sometimes this means working when others would have time off, like holidays, weekends, birthdays, and some anniversaries. Also, suspending personal plans like family vacations because the Principal needs you to respond to an emergency is not uncommon. There is no such thing as a nine-to-five job as a Private Service Professional, clock watchers will forever be frustrated and fail repeatedly. So how do you cope with an all-hands-on-deck environment? See the bigger picture. Principals hire household staff to keep their lives running smoothly, and each PSP has their part to play in ensuring the minutia of life are taken care of so they can focus on their passions. Seeing your role, whether large or small, as an integral factor in the household’s happiness makes you a part of something larger.
A dear colleague and someone who exemplifies grace in leadership (Fitzgerald Heslop) shared this poem with the class at the end of a long weekend, and it is henceforth on my wall. Your job is important, as are those behind you and those in front of you. No matter how small the job, the impact is huge.
Becoming a Private Service Professional is unlike any other job, and so is the job hunt. But hearing the hard truth up front can help you prepare for what to expect, brush up on your communication skills, and understand never to take anything, especially rejection, personally. Then, you are on your way to a brighter future.
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