The 10 Most Common Mistakes Made on Care.com
Whether you're a caregiver or searching for care, avoid these all-too-common slip-ups.
At Care.com, we know that the process of finding the perfect nanny -- or the perfect nanny job -- can be a little overwhelming. So, we want to make it as simple for you as possible. As more and more people turn to our site for help, we want to ensure that we're assisting you as much as we can.
Read through the following top 10 mistakes people make on Care.com, so that you can familiarize yourself with them and, ultimately, avoid them yourself.
You'll notice that each of the 10 mistakes is broken up into two sections: one for "Caregivers," and one for "Families."
- If you're a babysitter, nanny, home health aide, tutor, pet sitter, dog walker or housekeeper, make sure that you're paying attention to the "Caregivers" sections.
- If you're a family looking for help -- whether it's to find babysitters, nannies, home health aides, tutors, pet sitters, dog walkers, housekeepers or housecleaners -- make sure that you're paying attention to the "Families" sections.
1. Being Unaware of Auto-Renewal
- Both Caregivers and Families: Just like a gym membership, your Care.com membership is automatically renewed when it ends. We highlight this on our billing page, but realize that if you're focused on finding care or a new job, you may not see it right away. Most of our members are aware of the auto-renewal policy, but some don't always notice it and find it odd or a bit unhelpful (especially if it surprises you on your billing statement). But there is a reason behind it.
Care.com automatically renews our customers' memberships so that you don't lose any of the information you have gathered mid-search. Imagine communicating with a family or sitter on Care.com, and then the next day you can't find their email. The contacts and connections you made are now lost. We auto-renew our customers because we don't know what stage of the search process you are currently in. Everyone has different needs, and sometimes it takes time to find a perfect fit. If we stopped your one-month membership when it expired and you were still searching, you'd have to start over, losing the information you already gathered. By keeping your Care.com account going, you can still perform multiple searches and contact additional care caregivers, all without interrupting your process.
Don't worry though -- if you find someone and are finished with your search, you can always downgrade your membership to a free, Basic account. You don't have to completely close your Care.com account to stop the billing; just cancel your subscription and continue to be a free member. Canceling your subscription can be done at any time, until you wish to use Care.com's services again.
2. Omitting Important Details
We see it all the time. People want jobs, but their profiles are bare. And people try to find the right caregivers, but their job descriptions are generic and bland.
- Caregivers: A job profile is no time to be humble. Rave about yourself and be passionate about what you do. Are you a dog walker? Talk about the favorite places to go for a walk. A nanny? Talk about your favorite down-time activities. Mention classes and courses you've taken.
And read about the steps you need to take to have a completed profile in our article, 14 Ways to Get Families to Respond to You.
- Families: Create a detailed job description that explains exactly what you're looking for. It might take a few days to think about what you want and then put that into words. Share a little information about your family and its needs. What are your interests (hiking, reading, singing), the ages of your children, what they like to do for fun, what skills and activities you're trying to encourage, what your challenges are, etc. Also include qualities that you value, like organization or an ability to be silly. This way, the best applicants will respond directly to what you're aiming for.
Part of being a Fair Care Employer is being clear about the "must-haves" (non-smoker, has a car, etc.) and the "nice-to-haves" (speaks Spanish, enjoys reading, etc.). What should his or her personality be (neat-freaks only)? Encourage your kids to help with the hunt. Ask them what they want in a tutor or babysitter. Remember that adorable letter from Jane and Michael Banks in Mary Poppins? If (according to your kids) your nanny needs to play games, "all sorts", put that in the description too. Take the Fair Care Pledge.
Don't ignore your schedule, either. You may find the perfect nanny, but if she can't provide care when you need it, she's not a good fit. If you changed your work schedule to fit around a college student's classes, you may need to look elsewhere. Stay firm on the times you need; the right person will come along.
3. Ignoring Messages
People send so many messages a day via email and via text, that you can easily get overloaded by technology. But sometimes sending out a quick reply is a must.
- Caregivers: Ignoring or not responding to a message can hurt you while you are looking for a job. If a family messages you and you don't respond, your "response rate" score will be lowered. If you only respond to 64 percent of messages, a family may reach out to another caregiver who responds more regularly. Even if you receive a "No Thanks" email, always respond back to the family, thanking them for their time.
- Families: Try to close the loop with everyone who has applied to your job. It may be overwhelming, but no one likes to be left in the dark. By letting caregivers know that you are not interested, they can apply to other jobs without hesitation. Use our "No Thanks" button. By clicking on this option, a message will be sent to the applicant saying that you are not interested in them for this job.
To find out more about our "No Thanks" button, read 6 Things to Do When You're Not Getting Responses to Your Job.
4. Limiting Your Options
Whether you're a caregiver or a family on Care.com, there are lots of options to explore.
- Caregivers: Each profile is category-specific, with prompted questions in that field. For example, if you are filling out a pet care profile, you would answer a series of questions about pets. Your profile is geared towards a specific job-category and you can only apply to jobs in that category. A family may look through tutoring profiles to find a tutor for their child, as they need that specific service. But later, that same family may post a job for a nanny. By having multiple profiles for multiple services, you are allowing more families to find you...and potentially hire you for their different needs.
- Families: Make sure you are using the right job title. Do you think of your after-school childcare support as simply a babysitter? As Sheila mentioned in a blog post, sometimes using the term part-time nanny can get you more qualified job applicants. If you're looking for someone on a regular basis, with set hours you can always rely on, who can challenge, teach, tutor and plan fun activities with your children, try posting an ad for a part-time nanny instead of a babysitter.
And you know that you can find individuals to supply the care you need, but did you also know that Care.com has a directory of local businesses too? If you are looking for a housekeeper, you can find a person or look through businesses to see if there are local house cleaning services that can clean your home. Tutoring companies and child care companies are listed too. Inquire with both individuals and the companies -- you will have a better chance of getting the match your family needs.
5. Overlooking Background Checks and Safety Features
Care.com's Safety Center provides a lot of wonderful information about safety options. Although we do run basic background checks, we always encourage members to complete standard background checks in addition.
- Caregivers: Run a background check on yourself. By having a background check already on your profile, you are increasing your chances of being hired. Families won't have to request a background check. Keep the information current by running one on yourself every year.
- Families: You have access to safety features, so don’t forget to use them. With your premium membership, you can purchase a background check on any caregiver you are considering to hire. If you expect to run multiple background checks, you can purchase an unlimited background check package for an extra monthly fee.
6. Neglecting References, Interviews and Reviews
Do your homework. It's a rule in school and a rule we recommend on Care.com. Remember, when setting up an interview, choose a neutral location. A library, a coffee shop or an ice cream parlor are good places to conduct an in-person chat.
- Caregivers: When applying to a job, give families as much information as possible. List references so families can check them. If you have worked for other families on Care.com, ask them to review you. Treat interviews like you would an interview for any other job. Show up on time and be professional. If you have to cancel, don't do so at the last minute. People's schedules are packed, so be respectful of their time and try to reschedule as soon as possible.
For more tips on interviews, read how to interview for child care jobs.
- Families: Make sure you conduct a thorough interview with the caregiver (phone or in-person) before hiring them. (Some people skip this crucial step.) This is the time to ask important questions to see if they are the best fit. Care.com has compiled interview questions for nannies, senior home aides, pet sitters, tutors and more, so look them over before you interview your next candidate.
Request references and reviews if they aren't available. If someone has reviewed a potential candidate, reach out to them and ask more questions. Call past employers (including families and businesses) and dig for more information. Ask about strengths as well as weaknesses. Ask if the reference would hire her again. Ask them to explain their relationship. Look for details and examples of why the candidate is responsible, mature, a healthy cook, etc. Don't just call the references the candidate provides. Ask for a former coach, neighbor, boss from a job outside of the nanny industry. If your candidate can't provide more than three references, it's probably a bad sign.
7. Not Realizing All That Care.com Does
We can't tell you how many times we hear, "Oh, Care.com -- it's that babysitting website, right?"
- Families: Well, that's true, but it's not the whole story. Care.com can help you find babysitters, nannies, pet sitters, dog walkers, tutors, special needs caregivers, senior care, housekeepers, personal assistants and camps, too.
Wow, that's a lot. Companies can offer Care.com as a benefit to their employees (be sure to check out our Workplace Solutions program) and local businesses can be listed on Care.com too. So, next time you need to find help, think beyond just a babysitter and check out Care.com.
- Both Families and Caregivers: Beyond helping families find care and caregivers find jobs, we provide free, educational resources to the public. Have questions about potty training? We have articles giving you tips. Looking to add a pet rabbit to the family? There's an article for that too. We even provide information on how to calculate the pay for caregivers.
Our articles, resources and tools are completely free. Feel free to share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you want to post any of our articles on your website or personal blog to share them with your readers, go for it. And of course, if you have any feedback about any of the resources, don't hesitate to leave a comment.
8. Failing to Upgrade
Whether you're job hunting or looking for help, being a premium member on Care.com definitely has its perks. We encourage members to explore Premium membership to see if it's right for them. There is an extra fee, but whether you are looking for a job or looking to hire, it allows you to do a lot more on Care.com.
- Caregivers: Read our article about our Premium Provider membership for more information.
- Families: The premium membership offers complete access to Care.com, including care caregiver contact information and references, plus the ability to access background checks. Our subscription options are one month, three month and one year.
And don't forget, all subscriptions are automatically renewed until cancelled.
9. Maintaining Out-of-Date Profiles
We're all busy. People move, changing jobs, schools and towns. In the midst of all the chaos, it's easy to forget to update information. On Care.com, out-of-date info can mean not landing a job or still getting applicants for a filled job.
- Caregivers: Keep your contact information (email and phone) as current as possible. Maybe when you started on Care.com you were still in school. Update your profile to reflect that you earned your degree. If you now have access to a car, update the distance you're willing to travel for a job.
- Families: If you have moved to another town, update your profile and job description so you get responses from nannies who are nearby. After you find the perfect match for your family on Care.com, be sure to "close" your job. Our caregivers are very persistent and if they see an open job, they'll apply. By closing the job, they won't apply to a position that has already been filled.
10. Forgetting to Include a Picture
A picture is worth a thousand words -- and it helps your profile come alive.
- Caregivers: If you're signed up to be a caregiver on Care.com, it's important that you include a profile picture. We have a great article that provides tips on how to get your profile approved.
Take some time and read Is Your Profile Picture Hurting Your Job Search?
- Families: By having a picture of your family next to your job description, this allows caregivers to put a face to a name. It reassures them that an actual family is receiving their application. It also helps a caregiver know who you are if they are meeting you for an interview at a local coffee shop.
At Care.com, we strive to help our members and we work hard so they have a great experience on our site. If you have a question, be sure check out our FAQ page.