You’ve decided you want to pursue a job as a nanny — congrats! Being a full-time or part-time nanny can be a very rewarding profession. If you’re wondering, “What now?” don’t worry: You’re not alone, and we’ve got you covered.
There are many ways to find a nanny job, whether you tap into your network, look online or work with an agency. But before you launch your search, it’s important you have a few job-hunting essentials ready to go. Like with any job search, you’ll want to show off your best self and tap into multiple resources to find the right role for you.
Follow these steps for a successful search:
Contact references: Reach out to your personal and professional references, and ask for their permissions to be contacted by prospective employers. Make sure you have their most current contact information.
Update your resume: Now is the time to update all of the pertinent information in your resume. First and foremost, make sure your contact info is current. Then make sure to detail all of your applicable qualifications and work experience, like CPR certification or house cleaning gigs. Even if you don’t have years of work history, think of volunteer experiences or personality traits you might want to highlight.
Professionalize your online presence: We live in a digital world today, and one of the first things a prospective employer will likely do is look up your online profiles. Set anything you wouldn’t want your manager to see to private, and polish your profiles on professional sites like LinkedIn or Care.com. [Hint: If you’ve updated your resume, this last step should be a snap!]
Add to your skill set: If you really want to stand out as a candidate, consider taking relevant training courses to show that your job skills are up to date. This could mean getting a CPR and First Aid certification or taking a course on nutrition or child development.
Widen your search: You never know where that perfect household employer will come from. That’s why you should consider all options in your search. This means looking at online job boards and parenting sites, joining groups for local caregivers, tapping into social media and asking your friends, family and other professional nannies if they know of nanny jobs. The more you put yourself out there, the better your chances of finding the right job.
You’ll also want to take some time to consider what kind of job you’re looking for and what’s most important to you. Maybe you don’t want to commute too far or you want a role working with school-age kids. Write your ideal job preferences down and reference your list during your search to help narrow your options and keep your career priorities top of mind.
Remember to always take caution during your job hunt. Unfortunately, there are job scams out there designed to trick people looking for honest work, and professional caregivers seeking jobs get targeted, too. If a nanny job offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is, so make sure to familiarize yourself with common online scams.
If you’ve taken the time to update your online profiles and resume, and launch a full-blown job search, you’ll likely start to receive requests for interviews. Try not to think of job interviews as stressful. Instead, remember that an interview gives you a chance to shine and show your best professional self. It also allows you to determine whether a prospective family meets your career priorities.
Here are some interview tips:
Dress for success: Wear something professional, but also something that you’re comfortable in. Bring the goods: This includes your resume, training certificates and/or proof of education, a list of references and printed background check information (or permission to access it).
Come with questions: Job interviews aren’t just for the families doing the hiring. You’re there to make sure the job is the right fit for you, too. Come with questions, so you can be sure a job offers the hours and benefits you need, as well as fits your career goals and life priorities.
Be ready for tough questions: Some parents will ask tough questions about your past experience, your caretaking style or professional weaknesses. These are not to trick you but to see how you work under pressure — something that’s very important in a person who’s caring for kids. Come with specific examples you can point to that will help you answer these questions. Show off a little: Demonstrating how well you know and do your job isn’t bragging — it’s being a pro. Don’t be afraid to highlight want you think you’re good at.
You worked hard to market yourself professionally and interviewed like a champ — now there’s a job offer coming your way. You probably feel good — and you should! But it's also critical to not rush into anything. After all, this is a job you could have for several years. Take this time to work through all details of the role, including compensation and benefits, with the family to prevent issues arising later.
Getting all the job terms and agreements down in writing, preferably in a formal contract, will help everyone work through this process and provide you with something to point to if issues come up later. A nanny contract should include:
Take the time, as well, to familiarize yourself with the payroll and tax withholding processes involved when a family hires you to work in their home. Most of the tax work doesn't require any work on your part, but it’s still important for you to understand what you should expect when you’re hired and thereafter.
Starting a job with a new family can be exciting — yet nerve racking. With some preparation, though, you can start your first day off on the right foot.
Before you start, make sure you ask the family questions about logistics, working style, expectations and more, so that you have the knowledge to set yourself up for success. Be sure to discuss:
Before you know it, it’ll be Day 1 on the job and you’re standing with your new charge(s) in the family home, ready to say goodbye to their parents for the day. This is where the real work begins, and you will of course want to come prepared with your own structured plan for the day ahead. Between meals, naps and any other scheduled activities, have some fun icebreaker activities planned that can help you interact with and get to know the kids.
At the end of your first day, be ready to debrief the parents when they arrive home — that might mean taking notes, writing down questions or snapping photos on your phone throughout the day. Especially in your first week or so with a new family, it’s nice to provide details from your day with their child, so you can ensure you’re all on the same path to success.
Success on the Job: Professional nannies are always on the go. There’s little down time, and there are no true breaks until the parents come home. Having a structured plan will help you get through each day; just as important is knowing that the nature of child care work means that your plans will often be overturned. In fact, success on the job often means your ability to face and overcome a whole slew of unpredictable challenges that arise from the children, parents and even yourself. Being prepared can help you work through the sticky situations and setbacks that can get thrown into a nanny’s day.
Be prepared for child emergencies: No matter how careful we are, accidents happen, especially where kids are involved. Make sure you know the child safety basics and what to do, who to call and how to keep your cool in case of an injury or more serious emergency.
Know how to work through difficulties with parents: Inevitably there will be issues that arise on the job. Maybe the parents come home late night after night or perhaps they ask you to do extra work without offering compensation. For this reason, it’s good to be ready to have uncomfortable yet professional conversations to address these situations. Remember, communication is key, and talking through these scenarios will maintain a positive work environment and the proper care of the children.
Learn how to manage your own stress: If you don’t take time for yourself and the things you need in your life to feel content and balanced, it’s much harder to care for others day in and day out. Caregiving can take a lot out of a person, so self care must not be forgotten. Whether it’s learning how to say “no” more, or setting aside “me” time, different caregivers have different tactics for managing stress. Figure out what works for you, and be sure to stick with it.