This is a really busy time for parents. The summer is winding down and back to school season is looming. You're trying to get all your memorable summer moments into the last few weeks while also buying school supplies and planning car pools, after-school activities and creating an after school care plan.
My son hasn't picked up a book all summer, so of course there's also that last-minute cramming, too!
These days are also really busy for Care.com. With so many new and returning members coming to find babysitters, nannies and part-time nannies to help make the school year flow as fluidly as possible, it occurred to me that it might help to learn some tricks to finding the perfect care match. We've been around for almost 6 years now, and getting better with age. So here is what we have found are the most common mistakes made when finding a caregiver, especially if you only want to go through this process once!
Not making a detailed job post.
I often tell people that a job post might take a few days to draft. This is the chance to really explain the exact candidate you want. What his or her personality should be (neat-freaks only, please!), the interests and skills (must play soccer, be crafty and speak Spanish), the experience level, age, access to a car, etc. Take a day or more to write down what your ideal candidate would be like. Then include this description in your job post. This way, applicants with these traits should only apply.
I also suggest you share a little about your family. Maybe even upload a picture of yourself. Talk about your interests as a family (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. This way, the best applicants will respond directly to what you're aiming for. Is one child learning to read? One candidate might explain her teaching process in her response. The more you give, the more the sitters can connect with you in their response.
Using the wrong job title.
Often we like to think of our after-school childcare support as babysitters. It might be because they're only needed part-time, or because a nanny sounds like Mary Poppins. Who knows? But as I mentioned in a previous blog, sometimes using the term Part-time Nanny can get you more qualified job applicants. If you are 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.
Looking for the wrong qualities.
Sometimes applicants look great on paper. The resume is outstanding, the education is exactly what you want, the experience is perfect. But after you hire her, you realize she isn't organized. Or, she isn't silly with the kids. Or, she's a Type-A personality like yourself. And these things keep nagging at you. She just isn't the perfect fit. She isn't doing what you'd be doing if you were home with the kids. She isn't leaving the toy room pristine and teaching the kids to clean up after themselves.
Remember, if this person is going to be in place of you, you want him or her to share the same qualities – and doing similar things (if not cooler things!) while you're not there.
Not calling references.
Make sure you call past employers, whether your candidate worked for a family or at a business – and dig! Ask about strengths as well as weaknesses. Ask if the reference would hire her again. Ask her to explain their relationship. Look for details and examples of why the candidate is responsible, mature, quick on her feet, fun, a healthy cook… whatever is important to you.
And 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 3 references, it's probably a bad sign.
Trying to be too flexible.
Sometimes when we are looking for an ideal person – and think we've found her – we'll try to fit our lives around her schedule. I've seen it before with parents who hire college students and suddenly they are trying to change their work schedule to fit around the nanny's classes. Don't get me wrong, I love college students as nannies, but don't rearrange your life around your nanny's schedule. Ask your college caregiver to commit to a predictable schedule, and if not, just keep looking. The right person will come along.
I'd love to hear from you as well. What are the tricks you've learned to hiring the right nanny or babysitter for your family? What have you learned the hard way?
See a full list of the most common mistakes made on Care.com >>