When looking for a nanny job, keep in mind that you’re choosing the family just as much as they’re choosing you. Before you make any decisions about working for a family, you should invest some time into researching their background. There’s not one source of information that will give you a complete picture of who they are, but by using several different sources and putting the individual pieces together like a puzzle, you should be able to get a pretty complete picture of any potential employers.
Run a Google search. A simple Google search will turn up lots of information about a person, and usually will include anything from where she works to comments she’s made on online bulletin boards to community projects she’s involved in. This is a quick way to get important details about a potential employer. If you haven’t met a parent yet, a Google search can be one of the best ways to confirm identifying details, like where she works and where she lives, which is an important step in staying safe during your job search.
Talk to the family’s current or former nanny. If you’re not the family’s first nanny, ask to speak to their current or former nanny. Having the opportunity to talk with her about the family dynamics, the children, the parents’ employer style and the ins and outs of the job can give you invaluable information. You’ll get to hear about things from a completely different perspective and she can offer details about issues that the parents can’t. She may be a completely different type of nanny and person, but her insights will help you decide if it’s the right job for you.
Talk to the family’s housekeeper. Some families have never hired a nanny before, and sometimes even if they have previously employed a nanny, she may not be available to talk with you. Talking with the housekeeper can give you helpful insight into the family. There’s a good chance the housekeeper has observed the children with the parents or the former nanny and she can give you her personal impressions. As an employee of the family, she can also share how they are to work for.
Check out the parents’ Facebook pages. Most people have only limited privacy settings on their Facebook pages. Even if you’re not friends with your potential employer, there’s a good chance you can still access a lot of valuable information. Visit the parent’s page and read her updates and the comments and updates from friends and family. You may be able to learn a little bit about the kids, her work life, her home life, her personality and her interests. Browse through her photo albums, friends and things she’s liked on the web. By looking at all the different pieces of information, you can start to put together a picture of who she is as a person and an employer.
Don’t forget to look at the Facebook pages of both employers. The pages may share some of the same information, but each will give you clues about the individual as well.
If the parents have chosen the highest privacy settings, send one or both of them a friend request. They want to get to know you and they want you to get to know them, so there’s a good chance they’ll accept the request. Before you send it, make sure your Facebook page depicts you in a positive light.
Check out the parent’s Twitter feed. This is another social media tool that can tell you a lot about a person. People tweet about their kids, their jobs, their family, and their lives. They retweet things they think are important, funny or inspirational. People are surprisingly honest on social media networks. By reading what a potential employer tweets and retweets, you can get to know her in a new way. Checking out the people, businesses and causes she follows will fill in even more blanks. Because there are no privacy settings on Twitter, it’s a tool that’s available to everyone.
Run a background check. This can be a touchy issue to bring up, but if you feel it’s a necessary step before you agree to work with a family, talk with them about a background check. Each parent will need to sign a release before you can run the check, but it can give you very valuable information. This is especially important if you’re a nanny who brings her own child to work or if you’ll be a live-in nanny. You have the added responsibility of making sure your child isn’t around anyone who has a history of violence or abuse and that you have a safe environment to call home.
All these tools can help you learn things about a family that you can’t generally learn in an interview. However, even if during your screening nothing negative turns up, but your instincts are telling you there’s something not quite right about the job, move on. It’s essential that you feel safe and at ease when you’re working in someone else’s home.