The first step any employer makes when she or he is looking for a new hire is to write up a job description that lists the ideal candidate's qualities and outlines the duties and responsibilities of the position. As the CEO of your family, the same steps can be applied when it comes time to find the perfect babysitter for your family's needs. Not only will you end up with a finished product that can be posted to help you find the most qualified candidates, but you'll also have a clearly defined list of responsibilities for the sitter when you settle on the right person for the job. Essentially, this description will save you some much coveted time. Here's how to get started.
1. Start with the job title. While this may seem like a no-brainer, a clearly labeled job title on the description's header will help candidates looking for jobs know if they should read on and apply. Do you need a full-time babysitter or are you looking for someone part-time? Is this a seasonal position, like a summertime sitter, or are you looking for a flexible sitter that you can call on when you need to run errands or enjoy a date night?
2. Get to the gist. Once you have your title set, write a few sentences that outline what the sitter's overall responsibilities will be. An example might read: A reliable, part-time sitter needed to watch two kids, ages 3 and 5, for a few hours on nights and weekends as needed. The purpose here is to paraphrase what you're looking for so that candidates can easily identify whether or not your needs fit their availability and interests.
3. List key responsibilities. Make a bulleted list that outlines all the things your babysitting job will entail. Things to consider here might include driving to and from play dates, making dinner, putting the kids to bed, providing some light housekeeping, creating structured activities or even helping the older kids practice playing their instruments. Hey, as long as you're hiring a sitter, why not let someone else take a crack at helping to perfect the tunes of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on that oh-so-melodic recorder?
4. Outline must-have qualifications. While the responsibilities list what the job is all about, the qualifications outline what characteristics your ideal sitter should have. This is the meat and potatoes of your job description, so take some time to consider what kind of experience, education and values you'd like the person who will be watching your little ones to have. Your desired qualifications will depend on many things, but will likely align most with the age of your kids and the responsibilities of the sitter. For example, if you have really little ones or a child with special needs, you may want to employ someone with CPR certification or who has a background in early childhood development. Conversely, if you're the proud (and stressed-out) mom or dad of a tween, a high school senior or college student who can both relate to and keep up with the kids might be a bigger priority for you.
5. State the terms of the sitter's employment. This section includes the "business-details" of the job, like pay and expected length of employment. If you're not quite sure what's appropriate for payment, check out a babysitter calculator to gain an idea of what's acceptable for your needs. It's also perfectly fine to list the pay as "depending on experience," or to include a salary range. This may actually grant you access to a wider pool of applicants, and allows candidates to recognize that you may be willing to pay more for caregivers with stellar qualifications. You can later select an amount from that salary range according to the experience and background of those applicants you like, adjusting upward or downward based on what sort of compensation both parties find acceptable.
6. Ask for references. Again, this may seem like another no-brainer, but it's fairly common for people to leave "references available upon request" on their resumes. Asking for those all-important references up front upon submission of the candidates' resumes can once again save you some serious time. You may also choose to run free background checks on each candidate before interviewing them in person.
Michael Francis is a freelance writer in Atlanta, Ga. His work can be found here.