This is a busy time for a lot of families who are looking for more help at home. Senior Managing Editor, Katie Bugbee polled her mom-and-dad friends who use the site for their tips on finding the right fit, fast.
There’s something about January.
People want a break. They decide to go out more. To work out more. They need some time away from the house and the kids. They may even decide to change the nanny who wasn’t the exact fit.
January brings a whole bunch of change. Promises to improve. Energy to make it all happen. And Care.com sees a surge of job posts this time of year. So because I want everyone to have a successful experience – and not ditch their resolution – I created this roundup of Care.com advice. I’ve asked all my friends who have used the service recently to share their tips on finding their perfect person. (Read my “7 Lessons Learned When Hiring a New Nanny” piece I wrote last year)
The number one piece of advice? Act fast. Your favorite people get jobs quickly.
Here are some other ways they suggest you find “The One”:
When You Have Too Many Applicants
Seems like a good problem to have. But too many applicants can actually be overwhelming and make people give up on their search. The more specific your job post, the narrower your applicant list should be. Try this:
- Make Your Title Specific. Limit the number of responses by putting more details in the headline. What’s better than “Babysitter Needed”? Try: “Friday Night Babysitter Needed from 6-10pm” or “Nursing Student Needed to Babysit Tuesdays and Thursdays for an Infant.” Clear details will limit the people who send mass responses.
- Make Your Post a Q+A. Use your job post to ask 5 specific questions that you want people to answer. One mom of three said this is the best way she gets a quick sense of each applicant.
- Bait Your Post. If a caregiver responds without mentioning any of your specifics, move on. One dad said he needed to hire a sitter for opening night of Star Wars. He baited the post with all sorts of Jedi references. If a sitter didn’t take the bait, he moved on. And a new mom requires all responses to include three references. If sitters don’t include them upfront, she doesn’t read their response. (Sitters, take note – take the bait!!)
When You’re in a Rush
Everyone is in a rush. In fact most date nights happen last minute, and hiring a nanny always seems like a hair-on-fire moment. Here are some ways to expedite the process:
- Direct Mail Your Post. One mom of three said she creates a job post and reaches out to sitters directly. Not wanting to wait around for responses, she searches the site and messages specific people to see they’d be interested.
- Skype first. Use Skype instead of the phone. It’s a great way to have your first real face-to-face interview, ASAP (and treat it like an interview with a quiet space and questions ready). (The video chat feature on the Date Night app lets this happen in one place.) The next step should be to call references, run a background check, and then test with the kids.
When You Don’t Want to Pay the Monthly Fee
While there is an expense to find a sitter you love online, there are also some ways around it. Try these:
- Use the DateNight App Instead. This is the first transactional service from Care.com, so you’ll pay the sitter through the app and can hire someone you love without a monthly service fee. Download the app here.
- Talk to HR. You or your partner just might have Care.com as an employee benefit. The options range from free online service, pro-rated back-up childcare and senior care, personal Care Assist agents to help find the right nanny and social workers who specialize in finding you the right senior care service. Learn more about this company benefit. #Askforit
- Use the Promo Code. Here’s how to get 20% off of a Care.com membership.
When You Just Can’t Find “The One”
If your gut keeps saying “not it” it’s important to keep looking for your ideal care pro. Here are some things to do:
- Re-post and Check for New Members. One mom said she checked daily for "new" members and re-posted her job description every week. And each time she’d get a flurry of new people responding. But it was crucial to take time and go through them immediately and contact the favorites right away.
- Re-think Your Must-Haves. Sometimes what we think is a big deal, doesn’t have to be. One mom of three girls said she first posted for nannies within a short commuting distance because she was afraid a long commute would make the nanny hate the job after a while. But once she expanded the radius, she found her ideal candidate. Turns out the nanny was used to commuting.
- Show Flexibility. If you have it. One stay at home mama knew she needed a break from the kids two days a week to get stuff done, but realized she could be flexible when she didn’t find the right fit right away. When she re-posted the job, she made personality traits the highlight and said she’d work around the sitter’s schedule.
When People Get Hired Away from You
- Work Faster. If you’re fast, the process can be very quick. People applying for your job want to be hired ASAP, so leaving them hanging just creates clutter in your inbox. Every parent I talked to said that if you like someone you should meet/Skype them that day. Then start calling references, Google their name, and make an offer contingent on a clear background check.
- Be Honest. It’s important to be upfront with a great candidate and let them know that you’re really interested, if you are. If an interview is great, say something like, “I would really like to move forward with hiring you” and then talk payment, ask if she’s interviewing with other families, and work fast.
- Advertise Paid Time Off and Benefits. Going to offer paid vacation days, nanny taxes, health insurance and any other employee benefits? Tell them in the job post. Being a supportive boss will make your job stand out. Here is a list of 12 nanny benefits to consider.
- Sign the Fair Care Pledge. Show candidates you’re committed to being a fair employer. Learn more about “being fair.”
When You Want to Start off on the Right Foot
There’s nothing worse than finding someone you love and then losing her after a few months over a miscommunication. The number one complaint from nannies: no paid time off. Here are some ways to create a great work place.
- Create a Nanny Contract. Send this document to her before she starts and ask for her feedback. It would be something you both agree to and will outline how holidays, vacation and sick time will be paid (and how vacation weeks will be selected). You will also want to cover your house rules and parenting philosophies. See our Sample Nanny Contract.
- Set up Payment. As professional place to work, you’ll want to pay professionally off-the-bat. One mom of two advises that emphasizing nanny taxes and creating a payroll shows you’re in this relationship for the long-haul.
- Show Your Appreciation. Yes, she’s your employee, but she’s also your parenting-teammate and biggest helper. Show your respect and admiration, especially if a day has been tough. And reward her every once in a while with a gift card or an early night off (paid, of course).
Good luck! And if you need help along the way, reach out on our Facebook page.