Are you tempted to spend a year abroad, but worried that a gap year may not look great on your resume and hinder your future career growth? Or are you convinced that embarking on your own au pair experience in the USA will benefit you, but not sure how to formalize it in professional settings, or write it down in a good CV? You’ve come to the right place: being an au pair in the USA is the best investment in your future that you can make, and we can prove it to you with no less than 10 new skills to add to your resume once you’re back home from your au pair year!
There are many ways that au pairs can grow from their adventure, and a multitude of skills that they can gain from their year abroad. Among these, we have identified for you the top 10 “transferable skills” that au pairs have been consistently gaining or strengthening through their experience. Also known as “soft skills”, transferrable skills are general abilities that are useful across a range of different jobs and industries. This means that your year as an au pair will not only be relevant if you wish to pursue a career in childcare – the skills that you will develop will be meaningful to the employers that you will be talking to, whatever the career or field you choose for yourself.
How? Keep reading to discover the top 10 soft skills that you will gain as an au pair in the USA and learn how to include these in your CV with our best resume tips to grow your career from your year abroad!
First things first: spending a year or more in the USA as an au pair is your opportunity to master English once and for all, through daily life and interactions with your host family and friends, but also through the classes that you will take at an American college or university. Most – if not all – au pairs come back from their experience in the USA perfectly fluent, which already makes them stand out on the job market, especially when this fluency stems from a long-term cultural immersion far away from home, not from long hours spent in a classroom or a quick vacation in an English-speaking country. Employers will love that your fluency will go beyond the English language to extend to American culture too, something that you can only gain from living for an extended period of time abroad. This true international experience will make you a more knowledgeable, open and efficient candidate, and therefore one that instantly stands out from the rest!
Adaptability is also what the au pair program – and any form of gap year abroad, really – is all about. Leaving your home, family and friends to live in a foreign country and embrace a new culture takes a great deal of courage but making this experience a success shows that you are capable of adjusting to any new environment, be it a personal or professional one. Also, this can only be the achievement of an open-minded and tolerant individual who accepts and welcomes difference and will never hesitate to go the extra mile when it comes to understanding new cultures, bridging the gap and finding a common ground with others. Does that sound like the dream coworker to you? Because it definitely does to recruiters across all areas of expertise! Another telltale sign of your adaptability to push during an interview? The network of friends and acquaintances that you will have built from scratch in the USA.
Do you know what else employers love in a strong candidate? Responsibility and independence, two traits that your au pair year will allow you to master too! Becoming an au pair in the USA means growing up both personally and professionally, as you take on new responsibilities, learn to navigate a new environment and live on your own, perhaps for the first time, in a country far away from your home, family and friends. Not only will you become a stronger, more independent and confident version of yourself, but you will also be entrusted with the huge responsibility of caring for your host children. All of this will contribute to making you a more mature person, which also means a reliable and professional candidate who’s capable of great things.
As an au pair, you will have to be on top of your own tasks, but also work with the schedules of your host kids and host parents – and make sure that everything runs according to plan! This can prove to be tricky, especially when there are young children involved. Your au pair year will therefore be the perfect opportunity for you to practice your organizational skills, which are among the most sought-after by hiring managers. After your experience, you will come back home knowing how to build a schedule, effectively manage your own tasks and make sure that they integrate well with others’ and address the unexpected with a rational mindset – and with a bulletproof practical sense! As you can see, all of these skills can be precious resources in any situation and in any field: don’t hesitate to list these in your resume and highlight them during an interview!
Another decisive skill for your future employment that your year as an au pair will bring you is leadership. A soft skill that you can only really learn from experience, your ability to take charge and effectively lead a team will help you throughout your entire professional career, especially if you have in mind big things that you want to achieve. As an au pair, you will be taking full responsibility for your host kids – and that means caring for them in every aspect of their lives, not only during play dates and fun times, but also supporting them, comforting them and taking action when they are sick, upset, or get hurt. It also means making decisions when your host parents are not around and making sure that your host kids follow the parenting and discipline that you will implement together with their parents. Your future positions as Manager won’t be any different, only you will be leading a team while making sure that they adhere to the directions given by the Head or Board of Directors of your company. Taking responsibility and being able to act as an efficient leader is a rare skill to have for young people – be sure to mention these whenever speaking with a potential employer, as they may make all the difference!
Not only will a year abroad as an au pair help you become a true leader, it will also strengthen your ability to build relationships, and with people from a different country and culture at that! Being able to show recruiters that you moved to a new country for a year and successfully started over there, making friends from around the world and connecting in depth with your host family, will further help presenting yourself as a true team player, and a great asset to carry out negotiations and bring people together. Having built your own multicultural network in the USA will also prove that you are able to work with people from different horizons and perceive difference as enriching rather than challenging.
Being a great relationship builder will tell recruiters more about yourself than you’d think. It will show them that you are a true team player, and you should give them a few examples from your au pair experience to support that, what better example of team work, indeed, than the collaboration that you will have implemented on a daily basis with your host family? Raising and caring for children is definitely no easy job, and you will have managed that as a team with your host family for a whole year or more. This will go to show that you are able to successfully collaborate with others to establish schedules and follow them, establish rules, implement a direction, solve problems and reflect on activities carried out to further refine your action – no matter the setting that you are in.
Not only will a year abroad as an au pair make you a better team player, it will also make you one hell of a communicator, able to efficiently get across a message in a variety of situations and cultures. During your stay in the USA, you will be communicating in a new language and a new cultural setting basically all of the time, with your host family, your friends, your teachers and classmates, and all of the people that you will meet in your daily life and travels! This is an incredible opportunity for you to improve your understanding of others, and work on making sure that others understand you. Effective, well-thought communication is key in virtually all jobs on the planet, so don’t pass up the chance to mention your advanced skills on your resume or when interviewing!
As an au pair in the USA, you will be having so much fun during your year abroad – but you will also have to face challenges that you may not have anticipated, and this in a new country and language. Working through these au pair challenges resourcefully will make you a more analytical individual, capable of reading through any given (and unexpected!) situation in order to come up with effective solutions – a set of skills that will come in handy for the rest of your life, in personal or professional settings. And what employer doesn’t love a problem-solving, resourceful team member?
Last but not least, your year as an au pair in the USA will be the opportunity for you to improve your professionalism, which will come naturally from your daily interactions with your host parents. Being an au pair is a truly unique experience: you will become part of the family whose kids you will care for but will still get paid every week for your childcare duties. Because you will love your host family as much as they will love you, you will want to put your best foot forward at all times and will come back home with a new attitude towards work that recruiting managers won’t fail to notice. You will also become more self-confident and mature, two qualities that will even further strengthen your professionalism.
All au pairs agree that their experience in the USA has changed their lives for the better and contributed to shaping their careers. As former au pair and TV journalist / author Tove Meyer puts it: “Being an au pair is a very good addition to your resume, because it shows that you work hard, take responsibility, and are brave enough to leave your country for a new culture”.
Are you ready to unlock new professional opportunities for yourself and have the time of your life in the USA? Take the next step for your career now!
Start your application today and get one step closer to becoming an au pair in the USA. Begin the next exciting chapter of your life!