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Hiring a Miscellaneous Care Provider

What Types of Miscellaneous Help Can You Provide?

You are wanting to find work in some sort of helping occupation, but you may not know what it is exactly that you can do to help.  Below is a list of jobs in this field.

  • errand-runner
  • personal shopper
  • transportation assistant (i.e., driving things or people around)
  • personal assistant
  • dog walker
  • housesitter (or other vacation services provider)
  • closet organizer
  • gardener
  • lawn mower
  • snow remover
  • handyperson
  • special events planner (aka party planner)  
  • relocation assistant (packing and unpacking, etc.)

A host of other helping jobs are available as well, but the above listed titles are the most common.


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What Can the Helper Charge?

Pay rates for the various helping occupations vary with the location, skill level, time commitment, work environment, performance expectations associated with the job, and job market.

Location.  Positions in metropolitan communities tend to pay more than similar positions in rural communities.

Skill level.  Positions that require greater skill tend to pay more than positions that require fewer skills.  For example, a position as a gardener (for which a person with a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture may be sought) will likely pay more than a position as a lawn mower (for which lawn mowing experience, but not education, is considered relevent).

Time commitment.  Full-time positiions tend to pay more than part-time positions.

Work environment.  Positions in difficult work environments tend to pay more than positions in comfortable work environments.  For example, a wedding planner position (which is typically a very stressful position) will likely pay more than a dog walker.  Similarly, a gardener position in an  intemperate climate will likely pay more than a gardener position in a more moderate climate.

Performance expectations associated with the job.  The greater the expectations associated with the performance of the job, the more the position is likely to pay.  For example, there are usually high expectations of a wedding planner.  People are usually less particular about lawn mowing.  Wedding planners typically earn more than lawn mowers.

Job market.  In each area, some jobs are more abundant than others.  Similarly, job seekers may be more abundant in some areas than in other areas.  When there are more jobs than job seekers, the pay rates will tend to be higher.  When there are more job seekers than jobs, the pay rates will tend to be lower. 

These are some of the most important factors in setting pay rates for the helping occupations.  Other factors exist as well, but the foregoing list details those factors that are most common.

To determine what you should charge for the specific services you plan to offer, you may wish to contact your local Department of Labor, Chamber of Commerce, or field-specific organization (if any) in your area to determine what the average pay rates are in your locale.


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Do You Screen the Miscellaneous Helpers?

Should you screen applicants for miscellaneous helping positions?  In a word, yes.  What screening steps you take will vary with the position, but some degree of screening should be used for all positions.

At a minimum, you should perform reference checks, regardless of the nature of the miscellaneous helping position.  This will tell you if the person is experienced in the type of miscellaneous helping position that you have available, how highly regarded the person is for his/her performance in this field, whether he/she has been honest with you about his/her experience, whether he/she has been honest with prior employers, etc.

Also, all employees, regardless of position, should have their eligibility to work in the United States verified.  This is accomplished by completing the federal Form I-9 on the employee's first day of employment. 

If a position will allow the employee unsupervised access to your assets or family members, credit checking, criminal records checking, and a check of records within the Department of Health and Human Services is warranted.

If a position will involve the employee transporting your assets or family members, a Department of Motor Vehicles records check is appropriate.

If a position requires specific educational credentials, contacting the school or college at which the candidate professes to have obtained the credentials is important.  (Not all candidates are honest.  Some will profess to posses a degree when, in fact, they do not.)

Interviewing candidates may be appropriate, as may other screening steps as well. 


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How to Hire a Miscellaneous Helper

You want to hire a miscellaneous helper.  What do you need to do?  The answer depends on what kind of miscellaneous helper you seek.

At a minimum, you will want to decide whether you want to hire an employee or use the services of an independent contractor, recruit potential candidates for your helper position, speak with those candidates, perform references checks on them, and then hire or contract the services based on a clear understanding of what work is to be performed in exchange for what pay or benefits.

A variety of federal and state laws govern whether your position, as you define it, is going to be that of an employee or independent contractor.  You may wish to speak with an attorney to properly designate your position.

Candidate recruitment can be via a help-wanted advertisement, a review of the service providers listed in your local telephone directory, contacting your local Department of Labor, listing your position on a jobs website, etc.

Speaking with your candidates may involve casual conversations about what the candidates have to offer or more formal, structured interviewing of those candidates.

Reference checking involves contacting prior employers or clients of the candidates you are considering and asking those prior employers/clients questions about their experiences with the candidates.  Did they work for the period indicated by the candidates?  Were they satisfied with the candidates' work?  Were there ever any concerns regarding the candidates?  Would they consider hiring or using the services of the candidates again?

If you have chosen to hire an employee (rather than use the services of an independent contractor), you will need to verify your new hire's eligibility to work in the United States.  This is accomplished by completing the federal Form I-9 on the employee's first day of employment.

If a position will allow the employee unsupervised access to your assets or family members, credit checking, criminal records checking, and a check of records within the Department of Health and Human Services is warranted.

If a position will involve the employee transporting your assets or family members, a Department of Motor Vehicles records check is appropriate.

If a position requires specific educational credentials, contacting the school or college at which the candidate professes to have obtained the credentials is important. (Not all candidates are honest. Some will profess to posses a degree when, in fact, they do not.)

Once you have chosen your top candidate, you will need to extend a job offer (be it through an employment or indepent contracting relationship).  It is essential that you are clear about what your expectations are about the work to be performed and what you are willing to offer (pay and benefits) in exchange for the work done.   This ideally is done through a formal contract, but it may also be accomplished through good verbal communication between you and your new employee or independent contractor. 


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How Do I Run a Background Check?

How various background checks are performed varies with the kind of background check and also if any employment or placement service is involved.

If an employment or placement service is involved, that service can typically perform background checks on your behalf.  All you need to do is contact the employment or placement service and request that the background checks be performed, and then review the results when the service delivers them to you.

If you will be performing the background checks on your own, following are the steps to follow to do so.

All employees, regardless of position, should have their references checked.  Reference checking will tell you if the person is experienced in the type of miscellaneous helping position that you have available, how highly regarded the person is for his/her performance in this field, whether he/she has been honest with you about his/her experience, whether he/she has been honest with prior employers, etc.   To check references, you will need to contact your prospective employee's prior employers, his/her professional references, and his/her personal references, to inquire about their experiences with him/her.  Questions you may wish to ask include the following.  What were his/her dates of employment with you?  What work did he/she perform for you?  What concerns, if any, did you have regarding his/her work performance?  Is he/she eligible for rehire?   How long have you known him/her?  Do you consider him/her trustworthy?  Do you consider him/her reliable?

All employees, regardless of position, should have their eligibility to work in the United States verified. This is accomplished by completing the federal Form I-9 on the employee's first day of employment.

If a position will allow the employee unsupervised access to your assets or family members, credit checking, criminal records checking, and a check of records within the Department of Health and Human Services is warranted.  All three forms of background checks may require that your prospective employee sign paperwork that allows the background information to be released to you.  You can contact your local credit reporting agency, courthouse, and Department of Health and Human Services for the paperwork that they require or prefer.  If your prospective employee has lived in a variety of counties or states, you may need to contact the courthouses in each county and the Departments of Health and Human Services in each state.

If a position will involve the employee transporting your assets or family members, a Department of Motor Vehicles records check is appropriate.  You can contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain the paperwork that your prospective employee should sign so that this background information can be released to you.  If your prospective employee has lived in a variety of states, you may need to contact the Departments of Motor Vehicles in each state.

If a position requires specific educational credentials, contacting the school or college at which the candidate professes to have obtained the credentials is important. (Not all candidates are honest. Some will profess to posses a degree when, in fact, they do not.)

These are the primary background checks and how to perform them. 
 


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What Types of Errands Can You Help Me with?

  1. Dropping off / picking up dry cleaning
  2. Picking up food from restaurants
  3. Grocery shopping 
  4. Gift shopping
  5. Gift delivery
  6. Household supply shopping
  7. Returning items to the store
  8. Emergency shopping (ex., diapers)
  9. Shopping at a hardware supply store or auto supply store
  10. Dropping off / picking up mail or packages at the post office or other carrier
  11. Getting photographs printed professionally
  12. and many, many more!

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What Are "Vacation Services"?

Different vacationing families will have different vacation services that they may seek .  A brief list of the most commonly sought vacation services are below.

  1. Periodically checking on the  house to make sure everything is ok
  2. Retrieving, sorting, and storing mail
  3. Retrieving and storing newspapers and any packages that have been delivered
  4. Attending to household maintenance issues (i.e., putting water softener salt in the water softener on the designated day, winding any clocks that are not battery-operated, etc.)
  5. Watering plants, removing any ripe fruits or withered flowers
  6. Watering the lawn (if not using an in-ground automatic sprinkling system)

Some vacationing families will prefer that their vacation services provider actually live in their home during the family  vacation so their home looks like it is (and actually is) lived in.  This is done to avoid having the home appear vacant and thus become a good target for thieves.


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What Does a Relocation Assistant Do?

A relocation assistant provides help in moving a client (a person or a family) from one residence to another.  Typical job duties include gathering empty boxes (from grocery stores or other sources), wrapping and packing items safely in the boxes, placing the boxes into a moving truck or other vehicle, unloading the moving truck at the new residence, unpacking items, and placing items in the new home per the directions of the client.

A relocation assistant can provide these same services to businesses and other organizations that are moving from one location to another.


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What Is "Gardening Help"?

Gardening help can be provided when a person or family is on vacation, when a person is too ill to attend to their own gardening needs, and for a variety of other reasons.  Typical gardening help tasks include the following:

  1. tilling the soil
  2. preparing the soil for a garden
  3. planting new vegetation
  4. watering a garden
  5. fertilizing a garden
  6. spraying a garden for insects
  7. weeding a garden
  8. removing ripe fruit, withered blooms, and browned leaves
  9. trimming a garden back in autumn
  10. trimming shrubbery
  11. pruning trees
  12. sweeping or otherwise clearing garden paths, decks, patios, and other walking surfaces
  13. cleaning and providing fresh water for garden fountains
  14. keeping outdoor furniture clean
  15. filling bird and squirrel feeders

 


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What Transportation Assistants Do

People hire transportation assistants for a number of reasons.  Perhaps a client is ill or aged and cannot drive.  Perhaps a client has never had a driver's license because his/her spouse always drove . . . but the recent death of that spouse has created a transportation problem.  Perhaps a client has had their driver's license revoked.  If you have a valid driver's license, reliable transportation, and valid auto insurance, you can likely be a transportation assistant.  Transportation assistants drive their clients for any purposes agreed upon between the client and the transportation assistant.  Such purposes may include:

  • driving the client to and from doctor's appointments
  • taking the client grocery (or other) shopping
  • taking the client errand running
  • taking the client for a ride on a beautiful autumn day
  • driving the client to / picking the client up from the airport
  • driving the client to / picking the client up from a social engagement
  • taking the client to / from an activity in which he/she may become unfit to drive (medical procedures, events at which alcohol will be present, etc.)
  • taking the client to / from events at which traffic is expected to be difficult (hence the client not wanting to drive him-/herself to / from the event)
  • driving the client's gifts to their recipients' homes or places of employment
  • shuttling property between two places on behalf of the client
  • and many, many more purposes

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What Is a Personal Assistant?

We've all been there:  stressed, overloaded, bogged down by tasks big and small.  Wouldn't it be nice to have someone who could attend to some of your tasks for you?  Someone to pick up the lovely anniversary gift that you ordered for your spouse, retrieve your clothes from the dry cleaner, sit at your house and wait for the cable company representative to come fix your cable service, etc.  Ohhh, wouldn't that be a dream come true? 

Sometimes, dreams DO come true.  Personal assistants are available to perform the kinds of tasks listed above.  Personal assistants can benefit time-pressed business executives, work-from-home (or work-at-home) parents, business people who travel for work, and so many more people!  

From where do you get your potential candidates?  You could place a help-wanted advertisment in your local newspaper.  You could hire an agency to place a personal assistant with you.  You could recruit by word of mouth among your friends and family members.  Or you could review the many qualified candidates who are listed on an Internet-based listing and information service such as Care4hire.com.

Once a group of candidates have been accumulated, you will want to narrow the field to those candidates who are best qualified for the position.  For example, if you will be needing this person to drive, you can automatically disqualify those candidates who do not possess a valid driver's license, reliable transportation, and valid auto insurance.

Next, it's time to interview the candidates you've chosen as qualified thus far.  Ensure that all your interview questions are job-relevant and legal.

Then, it's time for background checks.  For example, is this person's driving record clean?

Ultimately, you will find your one best candidate and extend a job offer to him/her.  Consider offering him/her a job description and an employment contract (including information on pay rate, pay dates, etc.) so as to ensure that you and your new personal assistant have the same expectations regarding this employment relationship.

Once you have your new personal assistant, you can delegate tasks to him/her, providing clear explanations of your expectations regarding those tasks, and voila!  You now have more time available to spend the way you want, reducing your stress, and making your day much more enjoyable along the way.


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