Comments 7 Tough Questions Nannies Should Ask Parents

Getting to know the parents who might be your employers can be a little intimidating, even for nannies who have been in the industry for years. It’s intimidating because, amid all the basic questions and answers and conversation, it’s necessary to ask some tougher questions to make sure you’re really compatible with the parents. You aren’t applying for a typical job, and your position consists of far more than just punching a clock. You’re going to be an extension of a family, and that means that success is dependent upon your ability to establish trust and learn all you can about the parents to do your job effectively. If you find yourself stuck on what to ask — or if you just don’t know how to phrase it —use these questions as a guide:

“What’s the worst discipline experience you’ve had?”

There might be other ways to ease into this, but ripping the Band-Aid off is probably for the best. As a nanny, you’ll need to know exactly what you’re getting into with the children you’ll be caring for, and that means learning about their worst moments, not just their best. It’s important here to get specific examples, too. “Johnny gets upset at bedtime” is vague and predictable; “Johnny knocked over a store display in the midst of an epic tantrum, and as a result we took the following steps” is what you’re after.

“How many nannies have you had?”

This might seem innocuous, but it’s actually a gateway question that lets you discuss a number of vital and potentially touchy subjects. Discussing how many nannies the parents have had lets you know what their turnover rate (if any) might be, and it can also be the starting point for conversations about what happened to those nannies, what did or didn’t work, and why. Remember, the point of all these questions is to establish a foundation of trust, so it’s imperative that you get plain answers here. Ask how long each nanny worked for them, what issues led to her departure, and so on.

“How do you plan to support me when I discipline your children?”

Kids learn to divide and conquer at a young age. That’s why parents figure out early on that the only way to make discipline work is to present a united front when teaching their kids what to do and when doling out necessary punishments. However, their united front only matters if it’s the same as yours. Part of your job — a big part — will be dealing with the children when they misbehave, and in these situations it’s crucial that the parents support your actions and don’t send the subliminal message that the children can override you. It’s not just enough to make sure you and the parents share the same beliefs about discipline; they have to be willing to support you when the time comes. If not, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.

“Do you offer healthcare?”

Healthcare is a deal breaker for some nannies. Many look for or expect a certain amount of their healthcare premium to be paid by their employer. A 2012 survey from the International Nanny Association (based on data for 2011) showed that 16% of nannies had 100% of their health costs covered, while 10% reported that half their premiums were covered. That’s a lot of nannies with built-in expectations of healthcare. Don’t be afraid to bring this up with your employer, especially if it’s an important matter for you. If the parents don’t offer health insurance or if they attempt to make up those payments with extra salary or perks that’s their call, but be sure to go in with a clear understanding of what you will and won’t get.

“Have you ever used physical discipline?”

Physical discipline, aka corporal punishment, is problematic when it comes to solving behavioral problems. To make sure you and the parents are of one mind when it comes to discipline, you need to ask them how often and in what way they’ve disciplined their children physically. This is an area that needs to be discussed frankly and honestly by all parties to make sure there are no expectations of the nanny to dole out physical discipline and to give the nanny an understanding of the methods parents use to facilitate cooperation so she can determine if her caregiving style will be a good match with that of the parents.

“What’s your rate for emergency or overnight duty?”

It’s OK to feel a little nervous bringing up money stuff in an interview, and ideally it’s a topic that should wait to be discussed until at least the second interview or until the parents broach it first, but if you get the sense the job is going to require tons of overtime and overnights, you’re going to want to know how much and what the compensation is up front. You’re coming into someone’s home to perform a specific and demanding set of tasks, and you have the right to know how you’ll be compensated if your hours suddenly balloon during an emergency or overnight situation.

“What’s the one thing you’re really looking for in a nanny?”

Again, press for real, concrete answers here. Parents are (hopefully) going to have a good idea of what they’re looking for in a caregiver, and the best way to know if you and the parents will be a good fit is to discuss in detail what it is they want from a nanny. This question opens the floodgate to gathering that information.  You’ll also want to know if their previous nannies fit this bill. Why or why not?  And what’s been their biggest challenge in finding a nanny? This is an important topic, so don’t shy away.

How to Verify a Nanny Reference is Real

When you’re in the process of hiring a new nanny, there are several things that you’ll want to check in order to ensure the person you hire is the best possible fit. For starters, you’ll be looking for an educational level that’s comparable to your desires and a certain level of experience and competency as a childcare provider. In the age of the Internet, it’s possible to run background checks to verify a lack of criminal activity in her past and a clean driving record. With all of these checks and balances in place, it’s not uncommon for parents to feel that the checking of references is an outdated waste of time. In reality, references are your nanny’s most valuable asset and one of the only ways to determine just how much experience she has and what type of performance you can expect. The same technology that can make some people feel that references are obsolete, however, can be the very thing that helps you ensure that they’re real. Falsification of references used to be a relatively easy task; all that an applicant needed was an accomplice willing to assume a false name and give a glowing recommendation. Today, there are a variety of ways that parents can make sure that the references they receive are real.

Turn To Your Favorite Search Engine

There are an assortment of search engines on the Internet, and they all have one thing in common: they can help you locate people and find out more about them. Plugging the name of your candidate’s references into the search field can help you verify that some of the basic contact information is accurate and truthful. Look for social networking profiles, blogs or professional biographies that verify the name, contact information and personal information your candidate purports to be that of a legitimate reference. If she claims that she left her last post because the family moved to another city and a Facebook page implies that they didn’t, it may be a red flag that the reference has been partially or even completely falsified. If you keep coming up with nothing in the way of search engine results, it may even be an indicator that the entire reference is from a person who doesn’t actually exist.

Compare Letters of Reference and Resumes or Applications

One major red flag that a reference isn’t what it seems is that the contact information on the letter of reference doesn’t match that of the candidate’s resume or job application. Last-minute panic over the prospect of a less-than-favorable review might cause a nanny to impulsively provide the contact information of a friend or family member, rather than a former employer. If she hasn’t thought the decision to fake a reference through, these obvious mistakes can leave a trail that points to dishonesty.

Use Reverse Look-Up Services

There are companies that provide reverse look-up services that allow you to enter a phone number and obtain the name attached to the account. While not all wives change their last names and not all phone accounts are joint accounts listed under both names, discrepancies between the name on the reference and the name of the account-holder may be a sign that the person at the end of the line isn’t actually the person they’re pretending to be. Before accusing an applicant of creating a false reference, however, it’s wise to make sure that you’re not mistaken about that reference’s living situation.

Look at Listed Salary Rates

If the nanny applicant in question listed the salaries she received at previous posts, make sure that they’re realistic. Faking a reference and listing an inaccurate salary can be an effective method of both securing a post and a driving up the salary for savvy nannies who are dealing with parents that aren’t quite so cunning. Make sure that the salaries listed are comparable to the going rate in your area for nannies of similar experience and education levels.

Listen Carefully

A former employer who loved her nanny and is eager to help her find a new post will be enthusiastic and may even gush a bit, but she won’t sound quite like a friend or a family member who’s posing as a reference and hoping to sell you on hiring someone they care about. Follow your instincts and be observant; you may be surprised by how much you learn about your nanny candidate.

By checking the timeline and taking advantage of the many resources at your disposal, you should be able to spot a falsified reference with reasonable expectations of reliability. While it may seem like an excessive amount of work, realize that you’re interviewing people that are going to be left alone with your children and charged with protecting them and maintaining their safety in your absence. With a bit of extra effort, you can enjoy an increased level of security and peace of mind when the time comes to leave a new nanny alone with your bundles of joy.

Interviewing for a Nanny Job When You Want to Bring Your Child to Work

One of the biggest perks of working as a nanny is being able to bring your child to work with you. Not only does it save you childcare costs, but it allows you to care for your own child rather than outsource the job. To nannies, that is a key quality of life issue. Most can’t imagine caring for other people’s children and not being able to provide the same care to their own. So how do you find a family that will allow you to bring your child to work with you? Here are some tips for finding that right match.

Make sure the family’s really on board. To some families, having their nanny bring her child to work is a great idea in theory, but not a great idea in reality. Talk candidly to each family you’re interviewing with about how they view this benefit. Have they thought through all the different situations the arrangement will bring up? Are they doing it because they feel it will be good for their child or simply because they feel it will be good for you? Are they truly supportive of the idea or just tolerating it to make you happy? Look for a family that’s fully on board with you bringing your child to work with you.

Decide on your rate. While some nannies are able to charge the same rate when they bring their child to work, most aren’t. Parents see this as a benefit they’re offering and usually expect the hourly rate to reflect that benefit. This doesn’t mean that you have to drastically cut your pay to land one of these jobs. However, you do have to look at the benefit as you would any other benefit, like health insurance, and factor that in when setting your hourly rate. Look at what other nannies who are bringing their children to work are charging in your area and then factor in your education, experience and skill set to come up with a competitive rate. Be ready to negotiate with the family. They may have a different idea of what a fair hourly rate is. With a good attitude and some work, you can decide on a rate that will make both of you happy.

Decide on the ground rules with the family. When you’re interviewing for a job where you can bring your own child to work, you have to add a new section to the nanny/family interview. In addition to your normal questions, you need to talk about how the logistics of bringing your own child will work. Sickness is the number one question that comes up. What’s going to happen when your child is sick? Will you be expected to find back-up care or will you be allowed to stay home with him? How sick is too sick to bring him with you? What’s going to happen when your charge is sick? Are you comfortable exposing your child to whatever she has? Prioritizing activities is also an important issue. If the children are in different age groups, how are you going to structure your day? Will the kids get equal attention or will you prioritize your charge’s needs over your own child’s needs? How does this balancing act make you feel? Asking smart questions about the many issues that may come up will help you decide if your expectations and the family’s expectations line up.

Make sure the kids get along. If both your child and your potential charge are babies, you have to rely on luck when it comes to them getting along as they grow older. But if they’re older, make sure to have a few play dates together to see if their personalities mesh before jumping into the position. These children are going to be together for several hours every day, so it’s essential that they truly enjoy each other. If the children don’t get along, it can seriously jeopardize your job. Unlike sibling fighting, your employers have a choice in this relationship.

Put everything in writing. There are a lot more details that go into a nanny contract when the nanny brings her own child to work. Make sure you talk about all the details during the interview stage, and outline all those details in the nanny contract once you’re hired. Issues will come up during the employment relationship. When those issues have already been addressed, it makes working through them and keeping things on track so much easier.

If you find the right family, bringing your own child to work can be a great situation for both you and your employer.

Job Interview Red Flags Every Nanny Should Know About

When you’re interviewing for a nanny job, it can be easy to think that it’s all about you: your experience, your goals, your capabilities. After all, you’re the one looking for work, right? There’s more to it, though. An interview is a two-way street, and just as it’s a chance for a family to get to know you, it’s also a chance for you to learn more about the family and see if you want to work for them. You are interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you, so it’s important to keep your eye out for these warning signs during the interview. If you see one (or more) of these signs during the interview, it can indicate a red flag that you and the interviewing family might be better off going your separate ways.

The Family Brushes Off Questions About Previous Nannies

“Honesty is the best policy” is a cliché because it’s true. If you can’t get someone to talk honestly with you about the job you’re applying for, you might want to avoid it altogether. If a family hasn’t hired a childcare provider before, then this becomes a non-issue, but if they dodge your questions about their former nannies — if they become vague or self-contradictory, or if they just ignore or negate your questions — it’s reasonable to wonder if they’re hiding something awkward or unprofessional that they don’t want to talk about.

You and the Family Can’t Agree on Certain Terms

Being clear about duties is crucial to your success in any nanny position. If you and the family can’t agree on certain responsibilities, though — or worse, if they refuse to define those responsibilities — you could be in trouble. For instance, many nannies perform certain housekeeping services as part of their work with children. However, what exactly falls under the umbrella term of “housekeeping” can be up for debate based on who’s doing the hiring. If you offer one level of cleaning (say, services directly related to the kids) and the family wants another (broader cleaning of the home), that could be a deal breaker. And if the family sticks to a general term like “light housekeeping” but doesn’t want to be more specific, it could be good to walk away. Vague catch-alls are an opportunity for some families to try and get more out of a nanny than they originally asked for.

They Don’t Respect You

How does the family act toward you during the interview? Do they listen to what you have to say, or do they interrupt you to talk about their own needs? Do they engage in conversation, or are they more about instructing? Do they take an interest in your history, or do they disregard your experiences? Personal respect is the basis for any successful working relationship, and it’s important that you find a family that wants to hire you, not just a warm body to watch the kids.

They Have a High Turnover Rate

Sometimes, turnover isn’t an employer’s fault: people adjust their goals, redefine their passions or get better job offers and decide to move on. That’s natural. Other times, however, high turnover can be a sign of a bad working environment, whether that means it’s unhealthy, rigid or just professionally limiting. If the family has burned through a string of nannies in a short time, that might bode poorly for you.

You and the Parents Just Don’t Get Along

Sometimes, there might just be a difference of opinion that you can’t get past. This often happens when a nanny’s personal approach to childcare — the passions summed up in the mission statement of a nanny resume — clash to a degree with how parents think their kids should be raised and handled. There’s not necessarily a bad guy in this situation, either. Differences of opinion don’t have to be tense or uncomfortable. If you and the employer realize early on that you aren’t a good fit, you can still part amicably. It’s possible they might even know another family who could use your services.

Red flags like these don’t happen all the time. Most job interviews are totally normal, not horror shows. The best thing you can do in an interview is be prepared, be alert and know what matters most to you in a family and in a job.

7 Tough Questions Parents Should Ask Nannies

Hiring the right nanny for your family means doing your homework. It means checking references, comparing work histories and conducting multiple interviews. But getting to the heart of the matter means asking the kinds of tough questions that force someone applying for a nanny job to give honest, thorough, revealing answers. It’s not about embarrassing them or causing them to trip up; this isn’t an interrogation on prime-time TV. Rather, it’s about getting them to think outside the box and talk honestly about their successes and failures. Once you have that information, you can then use that knowledge to start building trust and determine whether a particular nanny is the best fit for your family. Here are some questions to guide you:

“Have you ever suspected that one of the children in your care was being abused?”

This is a blunt question, but it checks for a lot of things. Primarily, there’s the awareness of problem situations, and how the nanny learned about them. But it also explores how the nanny deals with major crises, particularly those that could have emotional, financial and legal fallout. Dealing with emergencies is par for the course as a nanny, and questions like this one cut to the heart of the matter.

“Are you willing to submit to a background check?”

Nanny background checks are a good way to collect information on criminal history that people might not be willing or eager to talk about in a job interview situation. Yes, you should ask about their past in the interview, including work history, where they’ve lived and so on. But you should also ask them if they’re willing to sign off on a background check. A check is really win-win: it lets them disclose their past without having to go through it in detail in person, and it gives you a good base of knowledge when making your hiring decisions.

“How do you discipline children? Can you give specific examples?”

It’s crucial that you find a nanny whose style and beliefs are compatible with yours, especially when it comes to discipline. As such, it’s important to ask how the nanny carries out disciplinary actions and get specific examples. Those examples are key here, since job applicants in any field (not just childcare) can easily slip into vague conversational tactics that strive to just tell the interviewer what they want to hear. Set the nanny at ease and say you’re really looking for their experience and opinion, and that they should speak freely and candidly.

“How do you feel about our beliefs?”

This isn’t the kind of question you’d expect to ask (or be asked) at a corporate job interview, but nanny job interviews are anything but typical. It’s important to phrase this part of the conversation carefully because, while you should make it clear you don’t want to force a particular belief system or worldview on the nanny, you do want to hire someone who will respect those beliefs and allow for their practice (and who won’t disparage them in front of the children). For instance, if you and your family adhere to a certain religion, then your attitudes and discipline will probably be based in that religion’s teachings, so you should find a nanny who’s OK with that.

“What kind of education have you received?”

Again, a seemingly innocuous question that actually deals with a host of vital issues. It’s important not just because a nanny’s education level and relevant certificates will tell you about her training, but because it tells you how highly she values education and if she’ll be able to help you pass those values along to your child. Did the nanny study childcare? Have they received any educational or safety-related certifications to bolster their experience? Is this something they just kind of fell into? How much importance do they place on education? These are all great avenues to pursue.

“What’s the worst childcare experience you’ve had?”

Ask for specifics here, too. Every nanny’s probably got a horror story (or several) about childcare or discipline gone awry, and it behooves you to hear about it. You’re not trying to get them to tattle on anybody or throw former employers under the bus, but it’s worth hearing about the bad experiences to learn how nannies handle pressure and adapt to crisis situations.

“What if my kid doesn’t like you?”

There could be any number of reasons for a child to develop a dislike for their nanny, and sometimes it might mean the nanny isn’t a good fit. This question, though, is designed to put the nanny on their toes and see how they think outside the box when presented with an issue that they might not have previously considered. How do they build trust with the kids in their care? How do they win over the difficult ones? How would they react if the child started complaining about the nanny? It’s for everyone’s benefit that they’re prepared for any eventuality, so don’t be afraid to quiz them on the tough stuff. Remember: hard questions now save you personality conflicts later.

How to Handle Awkward Moments With Your Boss

In any career field you choose, you will be faced with the occasional awkward situation with your employer. From differences of opinion to payment disputes, the nanny industry is no exception to that rule. Handling those situations as a private, in-home childcare provider can be a bit trickier than in other jobs, though, because the relationship between a family and the nanny that runs the household in their absence is, by nature, a bit more personal. Tackling the awkward and uncomfortable with your boss might not be the most exciting item on your to-do list, but it’s an inevitable part of mounting a career.

Be Direct and Honest

On the surface, it’s more appealing to beat around the proverbial bush than to dive headlong into an uncomfortable situation with your boss. Whether you’re addressing feelings of burnout, a claim that you’re being unfairly paid or the looming specter of job creep, it’s very important that you come into the conversation with a direct and honest attitude. That’s not to say that you can’t be gentle and understanding, just that you’re doing no favors to yourself or your employers by making vague allusions to the situation or being less than honest. Your boss needs to know if you’re feeling stressed or on the verge of burning out due to job creep, or that you’re thinking of finding another post because you don’t feel that you’re being paid fairly.

Skip the Confrontational Attitude

You absolutely should be direct and honest with your employer, but that doesn’t mean that you should be abrasive or confrontational. It’s entirely possible to handle a prickly situation without being more forceful than is warranted, and it’s important that you find that balance. Regardless of how you feel at the moment, your employer is still the one that signs your check, and it’s best to approach them accordingly. Remember that respect is key, even when you’re taking the bull by the horns.

Keep Your Temper in Check

Feeling angry or hurt when you discover an undisclosed nanny cam or aren’t being paid fairly is a natural reaction to the situation, but it won’t do you any good to approach a conversation with those attitudes apparent. Even if you’re seething, keeping your temper under control is imperative.

Accept Responsibility Gracefully

There may be times over the course of your career when an awkward situation arises over something that you’ve inadvertently done wrong. It’s never easy to hear that your employer is unhappy with your performance, but it’s important that you handle these situations with grace. Remember that it’s probably just as uncomfortable for your employer to approach the situation as it is for you to hear that feedback.

Know When to Keep Quiet

Some of the most uncomfortable situations in a nanny’s career arise when she finds something of a personal nature over the course of her work or overhears a sensitive conversation. Unless you feel that the children under your care are in danger or have proof of illegal activity, it’s usually best to let these situations pass without remark. Learning that your employers are planning to divorce or are dealing with a similarly painful situation is awkward, but ultimately falls under the heading of “none of your business.” Your employers may feel that it’s appropriate to approach you with further explanation if they’re aware that you’ve overheard them, which would be the only acceptable time to discuss it.

Be Brave

Hopefully, you’ll never encounter a situation in which you feel personally threatened or harassed by one of your employers. If you do find that you’re in one of these rare predicaments, it’s usually best to address it as calmly and matter-of-factly as possibly. Don’t be intimidated into accepting such treatment, especially if you know that the other half of your employer team would benefit from being fully apprised of the situation.

Notifying your employers that you’ve chosen not to renew your contract at the end of your term can also be daunting, but this is another awkward situation in which you’ll need to be courageous and proactive. They’ll need ample time to find a replacement, so it’s important that you give them as much notice as possible of your decision. Putting off the unpleasant conversation might buy you a bit of time in which you can act as if nothing has changed, but will ultimately make everything more complicated when your employers feel betrayed by your lack of notice and stressed about the prospect of finding a qualified replacement on short notice.

9 of the Strangest Requests Parents Have Made of Their Nannies

Working as a nanny can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career. It can also be one of the most draining and difficult, especially if you’re working for particularly demanding parents. While most of a nanny’s duties are fairly run of the mill, there are those that come out of left field on occasion. The next time that you’re dumbfounded by an odd request or two, just remember that they’re probably nowhere near as strange as those fielded by these nine nannies.

  1. Let’s Get Really Personal – Sometimes the odd questions come before the job. According to a section of SF Gates called the Mommy Files, a New York couple put an ad on Craigslist hoping to find a nanny. They included a questionnaire in their ad. Among the questions was, “How often do you bathe?” Their ad has shown up for ridicule all over the Internet.
  2. Can We Also Have Your Eggs? – The Huffington Post reported on a story where a nanny was offered $30,000 for her eggs. The spouse of a New York City financier was unable to have any more children, so she allegedly offered a small fortune to the childcare provider in exchange for a healthy ovum or two. The woman was also expecting the nanny to remain working in the household after the birth of that child, which would leave the nanny forced to look after her biological child in the role of a caretaker. Needless to say, the nanny decided to find a less demanding position with another family.
  3. Can You Handle the Laundry for the Entire Household? – Most nannies are used to doing the children’s laundry, which is a duty that often shows up in many contracts, but doing the parent’s laundry is something else. Nannies don’t have a union to look out for their interests, and as a result may end up doing considerably more than they are getting paid to do.
  4. Can You Work an Extra Twenty Hours? – It’s far from uncommon for employers to abuse their nanny’s free time, but some really take the cake when it comes to making unreasonable requests regarding working hours. The problem is so widespread that the Huffington Post ran a full feature article about laws enacted in New York to combat overworking to protect the rights of domestic workers.
  5. Will You Promise to Never Use Our Facilities? – One nanny tells of a situation in which a constipated charge finally let it all go. Unfortunately, the incident was a nightmare to clean up and she ended up with the mess in her very long hair. After putting the youngster down for a nap, she used the shower to wash her hair. Breaking with the usual routine, her employer, who previously had never come home during the day, happened to come for lunch and had a fit after learning that she had used the shower. The expectation was that the nanny would call the parents and one of them would come home while she took the twenty minute drive back to her own home to clean up, then drive back to finish her duties for the day.
  6. Would You Like to Be My Mistress? – According to a nanny who wrote in to “I Saw Your Nanny”, some employers also have no difficulty making advances that amount to workplace sexual harassment. She worked with a family for a few years before the family ended up moving to another city. After a couple of years, she wound up moving to the same city and reconnected with the family and the dad resumed his mildly flirtatious comments. It wasn’t until she asked about an ad he had placed on the local website that she discovered his true motives. She was inquiring about an ad that she thought would be good for her boyfriend, but it turns out that dad actually placed two ads: one for the worker position and another for a mistress. When he found out that she was asking about the worker position, he asked her if she would be interested in the mistress position instead.
  7. Can You Do Double-Duty as a Nanny/Secretary? – Nannies are regularly asked to go over and above the job requirements of typical childcare providers by overzealous parents. When in this position, many of them acquiesce because they feel that it could cause animosity if they declined. One nanny writes of a situation where she was asked to do all kinds of chores unrelated to her job, including chauffeuring an adult around, organizing a craft room and picking up dog excrement. She’s also had a family ask her to return calls from the family business while the kids were sleeping.
  8. Can You Share a Room With Our Child? – It should go without question that if you have a live-in nanny she should have a room of her own. According to Reader’s Digest, sometimes nannies are asked to share a room with the child they are caring for, and every now and then parents will expect the nanny to share a bed with the kid. Nannies need their own space.
  9. Can You Be a Living Nanny Cam? – The nanny’s job is to take care of the children, yet in a post to Nannysupportgroup.com a nanny writes about her experience of being asked to do more than her job description plus a little more. Apparently the parents are in a volatile relationship and the nanny has been asked by the mom to report on what the father does or does not do. Spying on the spouse is not usually included in the job duties.

Biggest Mistakes Nannies Make When Writing Their Resume

Your nanny resume is your introduction to both nanny placement agencies and families looking for their next nanny. For this reason, it has to make a memorable first impression in order for you to be able to make it to the next stage in the hiring game. Although there’s no such thing as the perfect resume, here are the biggest mistakes you can make.

You have grammar and spelling mistakes. This one seems like a no brainer, which is probably why it drives agencies and parents crazy. Proof your resume to make sure it doesn’t have any grammar or spelling mistakes, then check it again. It’s always a good idea to have a friend or two look over it also because a fresh set of eyes may catch a mistake you missed.

You try to be too creative. Creativity is a great trait to have as a nanny, but it doesn’t serve you well on your resume. Your resume should be easy to read at a glance, and using different fonts, adding eye catching borders and other creative touches like these just make it harder to find the needed information. There are lots of ways you can show off your creativity outside of your resume design.

You don’t include your full work history. Because you’re applying for a nanny job, it might be tempting to include only your relevant work experience, like other nanny, daycare or childcare jobs. However, agencies and parents want to see your complete work history, even if that includes fast food or retail positions. Readers are looking for gaps in your employment, how long you’ve stayed at each job and the type of non-childcare positions you’ve held. It’s essential that you are honest and provide a complete work history.

You’re still using a generic objective. It’s pretty clear that when you create your nanny resume, your objective is to find a nanny job. It’s best to leave the objective off altogether or use it to state specifically the type of family you’re looking for.

You don’t leave enough white space. Your resume should allow readers to quickly scan it for information. When you cram too much information onto the page, it becomes a jumbled blur. It’s better for your resume to expand to two pages of relevant, well thought out information than to keep it all on one page by sacrificing spacing and borders. Of course, it shouldn’t be too long, but if you have an extensive background and skill set, two pages is appropriate.

You don’t include the ages of the children you have cared for. Parents are usually looking for nannies that have experience caring for a specific age group. If they’re unable to find that information quickly on your resume, it might end up in the rejection pile. When you’re detailing your childcare jobs, make sure to include how old the children were during your time. If you worked with a group, include a general range, like toddlers or preschoolers.

You fail to highlight your uniqueness. Because most nanny jobs have similar core job descriptions, many nannies describe their responsibilities in similar ways. For parents, this means that after just a few resumes, all the information begins to blur together. To avoid that, find ways to highlight what makes you unique. What do you bring to a job that others don’t? What education, experience and skills do you have that others are lacking? By highlighting your uniqueness, you’ll be more likely to catch the attention of potential employers.

Your information isn’t relevant to the employer’s needs. Although the basic information will stay the same, your resume should be customized so the details speak to the job you’re applying for. That could include highlighting your experience with a particular age or with children with special needs, or highlighting a specialized skill set like a foreign language or advanced cooking. When you tailor your information to a specific job description, it tells the employer that you have the right qualifications and that you care enough about landing the position to put in some extra effort to customize your approach.

You ignore transferable skills. Being a successful nanny isn’t just about childcare experience and training. There are lots of other skills you’ve learned in non-childcare jobs and through life experience that are very valuable to nanny employers. Spotlight those skills throughout your resume. Being a well-rounded caregiver is a big plus in today’s competitive job market.

No resume is perfect. However, with some thought and planning you can create a resume that really connects with agencies and parents and reflects all the things you will bring to your next nanny job.

Tricks to Selling Yourself During a Nanny Interview

In today’s competitive nanny market, your interviewing skills can mean the difference between landing and losing the job. Whether you’re just starting out as a nanny or you’re an experienced veteran, you can always improve how well you interview with a family. Here are some tricks of the trade that will help set you apart from your competition.

Focus on connecting with the family. The primary purpose of the interview is selling yourself to the parents. However, if you focus on the selling aspect of it too much, you run the risk of sounding too much like a used car salesman. Instead, focus on just connecting with the family and talking about the things you’re passionate about. Take the time to really listen to what the parents are saying and what they really need. Get down on the floor and play with the kids. If you can build a connection with the parents as a person they’re going to be more receptive to you as a candidate.

Bring a copy of your resume and most recent reference letters. Even if you’ve sent the parents the information before, bring it with you to the interview. Parents are often overwhelmed during their nanny search and appreciate help in connecting the dots about your background and experience.

Be on time but not too early. Punctuality is a key quality that nanny employers are looking for. If you’re unable to make it to the interview on time, that doesn’t give parents a lot of hope that they can count on you to make it to work every day on time. They also don’t want you to show up 30 minutes early. They may still be talking to another candidate, they might be involved in a family activity or they may just be enjoying some down time. Arriving 5 minutes early is the best timing formula.

Stay positive when talking about your current or past jobs. The question of why you’re leaving your current job or why you left previous jobs will come up in the interview. When answering, be honest but don’t talk badly about your employers. Find a way to state your reason in neutral language. If you talk badly about your current employer, the parents you’re interviewing with will assume that there’s a good chance you’ll talk badly about them in the future. If you can’t find anything good to say about your current situation, simply focus on the core reason you’re leaving. A short positive answer is much better than a longer, more negative response.

Talk about how you can help the family. The family is hiring you because they have certain needs they want met. Focus in on those needs and show them throughout the interview how you can meet their needs. Use examples of similar things you’ve done in past jobs, especially if you’ve faced many of the same challenges that the parents are or will be facing. If you have solid experience with a specific age or behavior challenge, talk about your approach and how it has worked in past jobs. Reassure the parents that you’re confident that you can meet and exceed their expectations. The reason that experience counts so much in the nanny world is that parents find comfort in hiring a nanny they feel has the know-how to handle what their job requires.

Connect with the child. Sometimes nannies get so caught up in selling the parents that they forget about the child. The child, however, is the focus of any nanny job. If you’re interviewing with a family that has an infant, make sure you wash your hands before asking to hold or play with him. With older kids, bring something to capture the child’s interest and spend time focused just on him. Not all children warm up to strangers quickly, so you never want to force a child to interact with you. However, it’s important that you show parents you have the interest, skills and personality to connect with their child, even if it’s just a small connection.

Ask smart questions. You’re interviewing the family just as much as they’re interviewing you. Bring a list of questions that show you’ve really thought about their position and what it would entail. Don’t grill the parents, but ask the questions you need to in order to make a well-informed decision about the job. They will appreciate your interest and you’ll have the information you need to know if it’s the right job for you.

The nanny interview can be intimidating, but with the right attitude and a good strategy, you can easily put your best foot forward.

10 Things Nannies Do That Turn Off Parents During the Interview

Your sterling resume, glowing letters of recommendation and impeccable list of references are all valuable tools when it comes to landing the perfect post, but they’ll only get you so far. After you score an interview, the impression you make on your prospective employers will have a major impact on your likelihood of walking away with the job. These are ten of the things that nannies do in interviews that immediately make them less attractive candidates, and reasons why you should avoid them.

  1. Dress Inappropriately – It’s easy for younger nannies with less experience to fall into the trap of dressing inappropriately because they simply don’t know what is appropriate for an interview. Modest, business-casual attire that isn’t too tight, too short or cut too low is the best choice for an interview. There’s no reason to wear anything revealing. In your attempt to be appropriately conservative, however, don’t reach for baggy, ill-fitting clothing that looks unkempt or needs ironing. You’ll want to present a clean, pulled-together image.
  2. Arrive to the Interview Late – Arriving to a job interview thirty minutes early puts your prospective employers under pressure and makes them feel rushed to accommodate you before the scheduled time, which can leave a bad taste in their mouths. On the other hand, showing up late speaks volumes about your reliability. In an age of Internet map services and smartphones with GPS, there’s very little excuse to be late.
  3. Chew Gum – Chewing gum is a great way to relieve some nervous energy, and to make sure that your breath is fresh as a daisy before you meet the family that will be interviewing you. Make sure that you dispose of that gum before the interview starts, however. Snapping, popping and chomping on a mouthful of gum is distracting and can make you seem juvenile.
  4. Ramble – Job interviews are stressful situations, so it’s easy to lose your train of thought. Rambling on incessantly not only makes your prospective employers lose interest in what you’re saying, but also makes it more difficult for them to decipher your meaning in a sea of senseless verbiage. Keep your answers concise and too the point, and squelch the urge to launch into a long-winded anecdote about your last post.
  5. Submit a Bad Resume – A wrinkled, badly-formatted resume that’s clearly outdated shows that you’re not all that invested in the image you project, and can make it difficult for an employer to take you seriously. If you’re meeting a family through an agency and are bringing the first copy of your resume over, take the time to make sure that it’s up-to-date, cleanly formatted and in good shape.
  6. Resort to Questionable Jokes – Risqué humor is a great icebreaker at a bar, but it will almost certainly fall flat at the interview table. Unless you want to be greeted with the chirping of crickets and a disapproving expression on the face of your interview, keep the commentary G-rated.
  7. Speak Poorly of Former Employers – You may have the worst employers in the history of the world as your last reference, but speaking negatively of them will put your interviewers on the defensive immediately. If you’re so eager to share your scathing assessment of their characters and ability to parent properly, what’s stopping you from saying the same mean things about them in your next interview? It’s okay to gently allude to differences of opinion, but never share specifics and always keep it professional.
  8. Clam Up – Focusing on not rambling your responses to every question can make you uncharacteristically terse, projecting a grim and unfriendly image. Make sure that you’re not trying to hard to avoid rambling that you clam up altogether, as it will almost certainly make your prospective employers nervous.
  9. Focus on the Financial Particulars – Yes, a nanny post is a job that you perform in exchange for financial compensation. No parent wants to think, though, that their nanny is only in it for the money. Approach the subject of compensation carefully, and never let it become the focus of the interview. There’s enough time for negotiation after you’ve received an offer; the interview is a preliminary step in that direction and may be your last stop if you make the conversation all about the money.
  10. Bring a Cell Phone – Unless you have a pressing family emergency, there is no excuse for bringing your cell phone to a job interview. Turn it off and leave it in your purse, or better yet, in your car. If you have to carry it on your person, make sure that your interviewers never even know it’s there.

Interviewing well is a skill that can be honed, but it will take a bit of practice before you master the art. If you tend to fidget or stumble over your words out of anxiety, it may be wise to explain to your prospective employers that job interviews make you nervous, and that interviewing is not in your particular wheelhouse. After sharing that information, however, try to let the anxiety go and do your best. Don’t fall into the trap of a self-fulfilling prophecy, crashing and burning in the interview just because you believe that you will. Smile, be confident and let your awesome personality shine through!