You've decided that working as a governess might be for you but how do you go about finding the right job? When's the best time to apply? What questions should you ask?
Hopefully in this article we can answer these questions and more. If we don't manage to answer your question please ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll answer you personally and, if relevant, add the information to the article so you'll be helping out other future govies in the process.
When do roles get advertised?
The start of the school year in Australia is the very end of January/ first days of February. Most governess positions are advertised in the months leading up to this.
Some families and governesses like to forward plan and advertise much earlier, at the start of term 4 (September/early October). If you are a governess seeking work it is a great idea to be prepared and start looking early so that you get a good idea of what's out there.
Creating a free 'jobseeker profile' on outbackgovie.com is a great way to find out about potential roles. You can create a jobseeker profile here.
These profiles are now only visible to families who are actively seeking a governess through outbackgovie.com and we will not share your information with other parties.
Why create a jobseeker profile?
A jobseeker profile is not essential when looking for a governess role, it simply gives you more options. Families can contact you directly if they thing you would be a good fit for them. Our jobseeker template also allows you to convey essential information quickly to families. We will also inform you of new jobs as soon as they are posted.
Before you apply for jobs.
Before you start applying for jobs you need to think about the following:
How much time can you commit to working as a governess?
If you can only commit to six months due to visa restrictions or long service leave it's important that you make this clear in your profile and any job applications. It won't necessarily stop you from getting a job. Many families are happy to employ someone with the right skills and attitude for a shorter contract as long as they know from the start.
Never commit to staying for a year if you know that you will leave after six months. It's hugely disruptive for the family and children. Some children are fine with switching governesses halfway through the year but for other children it's more of a struggle and an unexpected change will have a negative impact on their learning.
Do you have a strong preference for the age of children you will be working with?
Think about where your strengths lie. If you dread the thought of working with kindy aged kids, singing songs, dressing up and generally acting like a bit of an idiot in order to make learning fun and engaging then don't assume everything will just work out. You'll be spending huge amounts of time with the children, you need to genuinely enjoy working with the age groups in whichever job you apply for.
What kind of additional responsibilities are you happy to take on?
Governess roles vary enormously in terms of responsibilities. Some families want you to focus on the school room and your hours will predominantly be limited to school-based activities whereas other families require more of an all rounder, someone who can assist with the schooling along with additional childcare duties (sometimes including weekend work), light domestic duties and light station duties (gardening and feeding the poddies for example).
Then there are families who only expect you to work in the school room but are happy for you to take on more hours helping out on the weekend with mustering, fencing etc.
Think about what you will be happy with and also make sure that you will receive fair compensation for the hours you work.
How would you prefer to be paid?
Generally you will be offered one of three ways to be paid.
Some stations offer an hourly wage. This is a good option for more flexible roles where you will be expected to work longer hours at busier times of the year.
A day-rate is another common way for stations to pay their staff. If you are offered a day rate make sure you have discussed the average number of hours you will be expected to work and keep a note of your hours to ensure you are not consistently working under or over the agreed hours.
Increasingly families pay their governesses through 'In Home Care'. This should be made clear in the advert or early on in the recruitment process. In order to be paid through In Home Care you are required to be self employed with an ABN and relevant insurance. There are other requirements such as an up-to date first aid certificate and a Working with Children check (WWWC). Families who pay through the In Home Care scheme should be able to support you with the process. Once again, it's important to make sure you are receiving fair compensation for the hours that you work. Also consider that you will be responsible for putting money aside to pay your tax at the end of the financial year.
Interviews and job offers
Due to the remote location of most stations it is unlikely that you will have a face-to-face interview. Most families conduct a phone or a skype interview.
It goes without saying that you should thoroughly check out a family before you commit to travelling across the country to work for them. Most families will be more than happy to put you in touch with a former governess. Take them up on it! It's a great way to put your mind at rest and ask all of the 'silly' questions that you were reluctant to ask the family.
Also see if the station has an online profile. Many stations contribute to the wonderful Central Station Blog (centralstation.net.au). This can be a great place to find out more about life on a station in general along with information on the particular station you are looking at.
If you are offered a job on the phone you do not need to accept it straight away. Take your time to think about it, do your research and go with your gut instinct. If you have further questions, ask them. If you are unsure don't accept until you figure out why. This is a much better option than backing out at the last minute leaving the family without a governess for the start of the school year.
You will generally be expected to pay for your own travel to the station, or at least the nearest airport to the station where you will be picked up.