9 Important Steps in Hiring a Nanny
1) Clarify Your Family’s Needs
The first step in hiring a nanny is understanding exactly what it is you need and the type of person who would fit in well with your family. I strongly suggest making two lists. One list would be more logistical: what days and hours do you need care, what responsibilities do you want them to take on (do you want them cooking and cleaning?), what daily activities are important to you, etc. The next list should focus on the type of person you are looking for: what personality traits would be compatible with your child(ren), their philosophy of education, thoughts on discipline, and so on. Remember, it’s not always good to have a carbon copy of yourself. Having someone who is slightly different than you can help introduce varying perspectives and teaching styles into your children’s lives.
2) Decide on a Budget
Before you start advertising your position, you need to have a grasp on what you’re able to afford. Remember, a nanny isn’t a babysitter. Frequently nannies will have professional backgrounds in education or childcare and might even have advanced degrees. In many households, a nanny position is a full-time job and caregivers will be treating this as a profession and not a weekend hobby for extra cash. If your budget is lower, keep your expectations in check. You’re not going to get a nanny with a master’s degree in education and 20 years experience for cheap. If the amount you are willing to spend is on the lower side, don’t be afraid of someone with a shorter resume. We all have to start somewhere, right? I have seen many highly skilled and fabulous nannies who are younger and in their first nanny jobs. Try not to be scared off by a thin resume. You may have a more affordable hidden gem on your hands.
3) Use Your Network
Once you’ve curated a list of what you’re looking for, the type of personality that might be the best fit for your families’ needs, and decided on a budget, you want to focus your energy on your nanny search. Before heading to Care.Com or another outside source, consider checking with people you know. As families move, kids get older and need change, a nanny in your network might be available. If you can find an experienced and trusted professional used by someone you know, you are already starting ahead.
4) Interview Your Top Choices
Before introducing any candidates into your home and to your children, meet for an initial interview. Pick a public place to hold this meeting. They do not know you as much as you don’t know them and this should help put everyone at ease. When preparing for the interview, make a list of essential questions. Jot down general questions as well as specific queries that might pertain to your child’s age range (i.e. bottle temperature, etc.). Don’t immediately jump into your list though. Spend some time getting to know the person and who they are. You might hit on some really important things about their personality or interests that can help you with your decision. It is also important to remember that interviews can make people extremely nervous. While the interview is important, don’t put all of your hiring process eggs into this basket.
5) Value Diverse Interests and Hobbies
On your list of non-negotiables might be things such as a background in early childhood care, 5+ years experience, and ample availability, however, don’t forget to consider your nanny’s extracurricular interests. We all want our children to be well-rounded and understand the importance of educating the whole child. Having a candidate who participates in local theater, plays soccer, or has an interest in robotics can really bring a lot of extra value to the table. Keep this in mind when reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates.
6) Ask For References
This may be one of the most important steps in hiring a new nanny. Resumes are often inflated or don’t give enough credit to a person’s skills. Some people just can’t do interviews. However, having a conversation with previous employers and character references will help you get a more well-rounded understanding of who your top candidates are. Even if someone has never worked for a family before, you can check with a past employer, old teacher, or other community members who can vouch for who they are.
7) Don’t Skimp on Safety
The most important part of this process is guaranteeing you are leaving your child in a safe environment. You must conduct a background check of any candidate on your shortlist. Some nannies may already have one available that they have had done to help market themselves. You will also want to make sure anyone you are seriously considering has an updated First Aid and CPR training certification. Although the hiring process can be stressful, please do not let these important factors slip through the cracks. A professional and experienced nanny will be fully willing to comply.
8) Offer a Trial Period
While the interview is a crucial step to narrowing down your top candidates, there is nothing that will replace gauging the in-person chemistry and interactions between your new caregiver and child(ren). Offering a one to two week trial period is a great way to extend the interview process before drawing up a more permanent contract. The first few days, have a strong presence in your home. Allow the nanny to shadow you as you change diapers, locate clothing, run the laundry and prepare meals. We can’t just expect someone to pop into your house and know where to find everything and understand what is on and off-limits. A few days of shadowing will help you clarify specific expectations while clearing up logistics for your candidate. These days will also allow you to get a feel for the chemistry between your child and the new person you have introduced into his/her life.
As the day’s progress, start fading into the background by working part-time and then full-time. If you are not available to be at home at all during the trial period, consider seeking the help of a family member or friend or doing the shadowing process in the evenings or weekends. You are essentially leaving your child with a stranger, and these first few days are critical to allow for a smooth transition and building up that relationship with the family.
After this trial period, you will have a more comprehensive understanding of whether your new nanny is punctual, reliable, trustworthy, and charismatic. Also, understand your child is interviewing this person too. Make sure your child seems happy and comfortable with his/her caregiver. Don’t forget to check in with your new nanny as well to make sure he/she is feeling just as content with the arrangements.
9) Consider Using an Agency
If the above list seems at all daunting, consider investing in a professional nanny service. While you will ultimately need to test the chemistry between your family and the caregiver, a nanny agency can help alleviate much of the initial grunt work. An agency will oftentimes have a pre-hired pool of candidates who have already undergone an initial interview, background, and reference checks, etc. Additionally, many agencies will offer CPR and First Aid training to their nannies. One of the main things these agencies do is interview both families and nannies to gain a better understanding of who they are and what would make the best fit. They then match their families to the nannies who they think would best align. While using an agency costs, you might find that it is worth the investment.
By Jennifer Belcher
Jennifer Belcher has been an educator for over 12 years. She has experience in public, private, and International schools. Jennifer has served as an elementary, middle and collegiate level teacher. She has lived in Jersey City for over 3 years. Currently, she is a private tutor, freelance writer and social media manager.