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January 28, 2013

How To Narrow The Nanny Search

I’m so excited to have Leslie join Care.com. She is a Vice President of Marketing for our provider membership, which helps position our website as the best place for the wonderful nannies, babysitters and caregivers in the world to connect with families. She just started here – and had a care crisis – she needed a new nanny. Here’s what she learned from the experience.


Blog-ideal-nannyDid you hear about the family who asked nannies a 65-question survey before even meeting candidates – all for a 2-day a week job?

I was recently in a similar frantic nanny-search boat. I had just started my new job here at Care.com and suddenly found myself without care for my 18-month old daughter, Ella. I hadn’t looked for a nanny since I was on maternity leave and quickly found that starting a new job, caring for my daughter and looking for a nanny was way too much for a mom to handle! I couldn’t think of the important questions to ask, let alone 65.

Okay, so where to even start. That was obvious. I had just started working here.

So, I posted a detailed job description on Care.com. I was very specific about what I needed in the hopes to get just a few, very qualified applicants.
I said things like:

  • "Must have 5+ years of experience (with at least 2 different long-term positions)"
  • "Must have a very flexible schedule" since I work full-time and travel a bit
  • "Must have experience with all ages of children – from newborn to school age"
  • "Must cook, do laundry and light housekeeping"

Do you know that I still had 95 applications?

Clearly, I live in an area (Manhattan) where there are a lot of nannies! But this was pretty overwhelming. The good news? I found someone terrific within 4 weeks. But I figured I could help other families find their ideal nanny – without having to ask a long list of questions. Here are the 9 things that helped me find my nanny – and I hope can help you find yours!

  1. Clear Responses. In my Care.com inbox, I immediately wrote "No Thank You Notes" (a Care.com feature) to the candidates who weren’t well-spoken and deleted them from my inbox. I kept each applicant who had personality and clearly explained why she wanted to work for my family.
  2. Quick Sales Pitch. When I called to touch base, I only set up interviews with the nannies who treated our phone chat like a job interview.
  3. On-time Arrival. Is she on-time for our interview – or early? Late is not acceptable.
  4. Family Nearby. It always makes me feel better when the nanny has a family of her own to go home to. However, I also needed to make sure if the nanny herself had young kids, someone could take care of them or stay with them if they got sick.
  5. Interests. What does the nanny like to do in her free time? This is a question that helps me connect as a person. It can get us talking and start a conversation. Yes, we will have an employer-employee relationship. But this person will be in my home and with my child. I want her to be a teammate. So I want to know her interests. (Here are more nanny interview questions you can ask)
  6. Emergencies. Has she had experience with an emergency before? And do I get the sense that she could be cool under pressure. I like to throw some "if this happened.. what would you do?” scenarios too.
  7. Limited technology. Is she willing to be off her phone throughout the day – unless I want pictures of Ella updated to Karoo of course :)
  8. Specifics. How would she handle my picky eater? What would she do when Ella threw a tantrum? Does my crazy schedule bother her?
  9. Chemistry. The final check is the good ol "gut check" and the chemistry between us. Will I enjoy seeing this person show up each morning and bond with my child? If so, please join our family!

For each interview, I had my laptop and I took notes. And I’d check what they said against what their references (later) said to make sure it all lined up.

Finding a new nanny is really hard, but what I realized is, it should be. This is your child – or children, and you’re not just leaving them with anyone. But, if you really think about what is important to you in a care provider (and write everything down), it can be much less daunting! Good luck and I'd love to hear about your nanny search…let me know how it's going – and tell me the tips you have below!

 

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Comments

Taira

Hi, how early should we start looking for a nanny? We are expecting twins in June. Probably won't need the nanny until July or Aug. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks

Deborah

I really loved reading this and I could totally relate to your experience in finding a nanny. My experience was quite similar. I had a million questions I wanted to ask but in hindsight it came down to the 9 important things you outlined. Believe it or not, that is exactly how I found a nanny for my 20 month old, at the time, daughter. We have a great nanny whom my daughter adores and I am always sharing my experience and tips with friends and acquaintances who are interested in finding a nanny but they are afraid or do not know how to get started. Great article, thanks for sharing! It feels good knowing I was not going overboard in screening candidates.

Miriam Salas

Re: 95 applicants - it's due to the economy, to the lack of jobs. People are looking for work(!) and they turn to areas which they wouldn't have previously. Here in Chicago I posted an ad for a relatively few hours ( while grand babies were in town for the holidays) and was overwhelmed by the response.

Leslie

Hi all - Thanks for the comments.

Taira, I'd recommend a 2 month lead time to find a nanny. You can always post a job once you get the babies home and then start reviewing/responding to applications as you get time. You may also consider having the nanny start a little before you go back to work so that you can train her and get comfortable with her. Good luck!

~Leslie

Mickey Mixon

This is so helpful for parents out there.

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