A recent film “Minions” has caused me to reflect on a difficult aspect of a butler’s life, namely that of securing employment. The yellow creatures are driven by the need to serve a master and will not allow anything to deter them in their quest. And so it is with the butler who has a constant need to serve and live his or her vocation. However they are not yellow although it is possible that some may be a little one-eyed.
Upon entering the profession of butler, usually by having completed a training course, will begin the task of securing employment. The most common method is through the numerous agencies that are to be found in most countries with the largest agencies concentrated in large cities. Choosing where one would like to work will aid the search enormously with agencies having their speciality area i.e the Middle East, the South of France etc.
Agencies tend not to advertise many positions due to client privacy which means that one has to meet the agencies face to face to enquire about their available positions. The greatest obstacle for those new to the profession is a lack of experience and in most cases agencies will have a standard “5 years of experience” for all posts, meaning that they are quite often unwilling to entertain the newly qualified even for a meeting.
There are a few ways around this problem with luxury hotels offering a means of acquiring experience. Luxury lifestyle publications like Estate & Manor carry luxury staffing advertisements from private clients who perhaps prefer to have more control over the confidential recruitment process. High-end estate agents are another possibility as clients may often need a property to be staffed, on a temporary or permanent basis. Many newly qualified butlers may veer towards the temporary contracts offered by cruise-ship lines, secondary residences for the French Riviera season or indeed as chalet hosts/hostesses for the ski season.
What is important of course is the all important experience on one’s CV and having a principal to serve. Acquiring experience permits butlers to garner new skills but more importantly honing the sense of duty towards a principal whether for a week or a lifetime of service is what really matters.