Tuesday

I want to rewrite the letter and then copy the signature...

Received Tuesday, April 15, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I just left my nanny position of 5 1/2 years on good terms because the family is finally self-sufficient and moving. The family had five children that included two sets of twins. I took care of each of their children from birth until school age. I can't count the times I've given up everything to help them. Everything was great when I left the position and we agreed to meet once a year to catch up. Then I received my "recommendation" letter. My employers and I agreed on the letter rather than calls for two reasons: they are incredibly busy with the move and I'm a male nanny. Although I have over a decade of experience, numerous references, and certifications; most employers don't even bother calling my references because I'm a man. The letters can be presented at a moments notice to try and help ease parent's concerns and give me a little bit of a chance. So you can see I was really counting on this letter. Now I feel completely tricked and used by this family. The "letter" was only five sentences long! It's awful! There is nothing in there about how long I've been working for them, how old the kids are, what I've helped with, taught the kids, or signs of appreciation. This comes as a shock because for years they have told me how wonderful I am and how they have no clue how they got so lucky. I'm so angry at them for leaving me high and dry.

I want to rewrite the letter and then copy the signature. They didn't leave a forward number and don't want to be contacted by cell phone for reference checks. So this letter is all I have to show future employers. How out of line am I to rewrite this letter? I wouldn't falsify any information; just include the things I stated above. These are business people and I thought they would know how to write a letter, but apparently I was wrong. Is it acceptable to rewrite the letter to include just the bare details or am I doomed to have a nearly 6 year gap in my employment history? Other nannies: have you had this problem, and what did you do? For employers of nannies: how would you feel if someone rewrote your recommendation letter?

Thanks for any advice you can give!
~Massachusetts Manny

37 comments:

Sandie said...

The problem I see is this: If I were interviewing you and saw the letter, I may still want to contact the family either via phone or in person to verify that it is a real reference.

Since you were with them for a long period of time, perhaps asking them to put the word our to friends/neighbors may help. They have a built in reference and it gets you past the first step.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Improve your letter by 50%, not 100%. Use compliments and things that you have heard your employer say to you. It's not like they are going to check the signature or have the new employer read the letter word for word.

Do tell your employer that if you find a job you are interested in, you will have to give their number. I would never hire anyone without confirming their reference, and sorry, but especially a male nanny!

mom said...

As long as the letter wasn't negative and you had such a good relationship, why don't you explain to them that in your profession you need a more detailed letter. Tell them what you need it to say, or even offer to write them a template that they can use (this may save them valuable time), and ask them to sign it themselves.
Writing your own and forging their signature isn't a good idea.

Sue said...

Of course you can't modify the letter. Just attach your resume to it and include all the things you say here.

marypoppin'pills said...

Oh "man", do I feel sorry for you!
(Sorry ... had to do it.)

How thoughtless of those Employers for not being more detailed in your reference, and for not wanting to give just a minute of their time to take a phone call to help you line up another job.
I hope their new house is blessed with termites!

I understand you needed this 'upper hand' from them because you are a 'manny' ... but don't feel too bad, male Nannies are becoming trendier - so it might not be as difficult as you think.

Forging the letter might go unnoticed, not that I condone it ... but the signature? ... um, not a good idea. If I were you, and you can still contact the Family, I agree with Mom, tell them you're worried it isn't detailed enough and offer to write a template and have them sign it.

Please let us know what happens, and best of luck to you! I hope you find a single mom with 2 boys who needs a male role model in their lives!

Massachusetts Manny said...

OP here. I've already started contacting new families and let them know that I have a letter from this family but they won't be able to contact them. The families seem to be ok with it. I have about 6 family references that I have worked for 2+ years each that can be called.
2:18-I just want to write in the basic facts not become Mike Poppins (although I've been called it). Also why "especially" a male nanny? That stigma is what is causing problems now. Plus look at the countless numbers of women nannies who have abused charges.
MPP's:
I was going to use all the original letter and add dates, duties, childrens' ages, etc. Then trace signature. Thanks for the good luck. Your comments have always been amusing and thoughtfull.
Thanks to everyone so far!

Anonymous said...

It isn't clear to me. Can you contact them at all? If you can you should let them know that the letter is not enough, and do provide a template that will help you.
If they are incredibly busy as you mentioned, maybe they simply overlooked it - it takes time to think you a letter, but if they were your employers for over 5 years, they should definitely feel responsible for helping you out.

Rebecca said...

Some of my bosses, and some of my professors, when asked for a reference letter have actually asked me to write it, or at least give them a detailed outline with what I want it to say. It just makes it easier for them - especially since a LOT of business people (some of my bosses, for example) are TERRIBLE writers. So I would contact them with a letter or outline/template and just explain to them that you really need something more detailed and that you've sent an example they can use or rewrite.

That being said, if I were hiring a nanny (male OR female) I would never hire someone without actually speaking to the references. It's pretty damn easy to write a fake letter - as you can see from the question you're asking - and prospective employers know that. How hard is it for your employers to talk to a prospective employer for five minutes? I never give out reference names and phone numbers until I have a firm offer that I'm planning to accept - that way my references only get one call. Check with your former employers and ask if they would mind talking to ONE person - maybe two. The should understand that it could make a huge difference on whether or not you'll get hired.

If ALL else fails - they won't rewrite the letter or let anyone contact them - then yeah, rewrite it. No one will know the difference anyway, since your lame employers won't be a reference for you. Not the ideal solution, but it's better than no phone call and a super crappy letter.

Hellcat said...

I definately would not rewrite the letter! That is deceitful and you do not want to be hired based on a phony letter.
I would contact the family and explain to them why you need a more helpful letter and what it should include.

Anonymous said...

These people don't understand how important a letter of reference is! They have no idea.

I have had three nanny jobs. One gave me a medicre reference after I honored the one year contract I had. I couldn't stay longer because they were too poor and always trying to cut corners, no food in the house, not paying OT, etc.

Then I worked for 2 very wealthy families. One I quit on them, but have them notice. One I chose not to move with them when they moved 3 towns away. Both of them told me to write my own references. Would you believe that in each case, I had to insist that THEY sign the letter. They told me just to write, sign it and leave them a copy. (!!!)

And it's really hard to write your own letter of reference. Because the whole time I am writing it, I am worried it is going to sound like it was written by me! So then I don't say nearly as nice of things as I think my emplyers should have on their own!

Anonymous said...

No, you can NOT sign their name to a new letter. That is considered forgery, is ILLEGAL, and if they ever found out about it, could land you straight in jail. At the very least, you can bet that they will tell everyone they can what you did, and what would THAT do to the reputation of all "mannys" out there?

Do what other people have already suggested. Contact them, explain that you really need something a bit more detailed, and then offer to write it for them. If they're too busy to have prospective employers contacting them, they were likely too busy to write a thorough letter, as well. Make it as easy for them as possible to get what you need, but please don't commit a misdemeanor to do it.

LindaLou said...

i can't believe you would even consider forgery as an option. it really speaks to your character that you'd even be seriously thinking about it. i don't think you have any business being in any position of trust. that being said, if you can still contact your former employers, you could ask them if they would write a more detailed letter or if they would be willing to sign one that you wrote yourself.

Anonymous said...

lindalou
I agree with you, but only partly. I wouldn't go so far as to demean his moral character because here you have a guy that's already got one strike against him because he's a male nanny. Strike two is the almost 6 yr. gap in his work history because there is no way this crappy, pathetic letter will do much good in helping to find him another job.

On that note, I do think what he wants to do is wrong, but I wouldn't say he is a bad egg for wanting to do it. He desperately wants to find another manny job, and his hands are sort of tied by his former employers laziness, carelessness, thoughtlessness -- and any other "...lessness'" you care to tack on here.

mimi said...

I would attempt first to get them to re-write the letter OR throw them the option to keep the letter but allow future employers to contact you. If that all fails

REWRITE the letter without thinking twice...

How dare they not take a half hour to type up a half decent one page reccomendation letter for a guy who has given them FIVE AND A HALF YEARS!!!! Not to mention you survived two sets of twins!!! Employers seem to forget that most nanny days you feel like your knee deep in the trenches. You had to be good at what you do otherwise it wouldn't have been so long of a job.....I wouldn't go so far as to boast or brag in your new letter. But I would give credit for any and all facts...like if you were on time, that you have experience with multiples,and things that you did above and beyond. I would state only FACTS not opinions that way if this ever does get caught by them...and really folks..how would it..especially if they won't take phone calls...then you didn't lie per say.....

But you deserve a good reff...do what you have to do...

mom said...

I say if you can't get them to budge on a new letter, go ahead and write up everything you think people would want to know about your last job...but DON'T sign your former employer's names to it! (Always do everything possible to keep your dignity and your good reputation firmly intact.)

Instead, attach it to their recommendation, and explain to any potential new employer that you thought they might like more detail than was given in the original reference.

I also think its kind of selfish of your former employers,if they were happy with you for all of those years, to begrudge you a few glowing recommendations by phone. A few minutes of their time for your many years of service is such a small thing to ask. If I were hiring you and you said, "I have this letter, but under no circumstances may you actually speak to these people, I would think it sounded really suspicious." That's not fair to you.

emily said...

OP: Why have you not told the family what you've told us? They may simply not understand the importance of this letter, or they may not know how to put into words what you have meant to them. It is somewhat understandable that this family isn't kean to have a bunch of strangers calling them while they're trying to resettle, but I absolutely cannot believe that you are unable to contact them with your request.

fng said...

I hate to say this but the letter without a person to be called to back it up isn't going to do much good. I wouldn't hire you based on a letter no matter how glowing or sparse because if I couldn't validate it, how could I be
certain it's real? After all you have done for them the least they could do is allow calls, perhaps on a certain day between the hours of x and x to give you a reference.

Good luck to you!

Elizabeth said...

Eek.
This is altogether a bad situation-- a 5 sentence long letter, unless they are truly sensational sentences, is pretty unhelpful. However, it is a very bad idea to create a false letter and copy their signatures. Not only is this illegal, but it is (in my opinion) immoral. If you were caught, it would be truly awful for your career.

If you can, get in touch with the family and ask for a more detailed letter. If you can't, give the families you are interviewing for the letter you were given, your resume, and all the other references you mentioned. You could also consider talking friends of the family, and asking them to be references for you, if they regularly saw you while you were working. It's really the best you can do!

Best of luck--

Anonymous said...

You worked for these people for 5 1/2 years, eventually caring for five children, including two sets of twins, and they can't take the time to write a decent letter, or speak with a potential employer?! Horrible selfish people!
I understand how desperate you must feel, but under no circumstances should you forge a letter. Write a template for them to either sign or use as a model, and tell them that you will not be able to get another job if they don't speak to potential employers. No responsible parent is going to hire a nanny/manny who says their employer of the last 5 years won't provide a reference by phone.
When I interview I provide letters of reference, and ask the parents to wait to contact my references until after an interview, and if we decide there is mutual interest. This saves my references spending time talking to numerous people, and shows potential employers you are considerate of your employer's time.
Good Luck
A Nanny

Anonymous said...

My guess is you worked off the books and they don't want to commit to anything that could get them in trouble with the tax man

Anonymous said...

If you are in contact with the family, explain the letter was not as detailed as the families you are interviewing with need, write a letter for them to sign and send it to them in soft and hard copy asking them to edit appropriately and sign it. Do NOT forge their signatures. It is dishonest and illegal.

shel said...

Potential new families are not going to go by reference letter alone. For all they know you COULD have written it. Most families want to talk to the previous employers via the phone as well as have copies of reference letters. This has always been my experience. I have a load of letters, but my past employers have always received calls.

Is there anyone else that knew you and interacted with you on a regular basis at that job? Can you get letters from them?

If you are in contact with the family, ask if you could get a more detailed letter from them and give examples of what other families want to read about. Also let them know that more than likely, people are going to want to talk to them.

Anonymous said...

Feels pretty awful to devote years of your life to caring for someone's children and then have them turn you out like so much trash, doesn't it? I should know, it happened to me.
I have no solutions for you, you cannot forge anything on a reference letter and since they refuse to provide phone references, you're screwed.
Best of luck with eveything in the future and remember: what goes around comes around...they'll get their karma, sooner or later. Everyone does.

Anonymous said...

Ain't that the truth!

kate said...

I would feel pretty awful if, during a difficult period in my family's life, I had written a reference letter for an employee I'd known and trusted for years and then come to find that, instead of coming to me and explaining that it was inadequate, he complained to a bunch of strangers on a website!

This guy is getting your sympathy for being lazy and considering fraud. I don't get it!

mom said...

kate makes an excellent point.

These people really might have no idea that they have left you high and dry (although the refusal to accept phone calls is definitely not nice.)

Maybe they work in an industry where flowery letters of recommendation are not the norm and they gave you the equivalent of what they see from applicants on a regular basis.

Call them, and don't think the worst of them until you have to. Maybe your call will mend not only the reference letter situation, but also the way you will think of the family that you spent the last six years of your life with. Seems like it couldn't hurt at this point anyway.

marypoppin'pills said...

Kate,
I guess the manny garnered a bit of my sympathy because I am surprised that after almost 6 yrs. of service, this Family is completely ambivalent and has cut him off without a decent reference.

Do I agree with what he's wanting to do? Absolutely not. I believe he should do his best to get in contact with them and work it out if possible, otherwise he is going to have one hell of a time finding another position.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can only imagine this busy, uncaring Family having better things to do than to worry about an ex-employee, and that is really too bad for him.

Anonymous said...

Kate, are you serious? They refused to speak with potential employers, that is unconscionable after someone has cared for your children for 5 1/2 years.
You are right about not forging a letter, but the guy is talking about his ability to earn his living here. I think some sympathy is called for.

Anonymous said...

Kate
Where does it say this family was having a difficult time? You mean the moving?? Ah - that's a time for excitement! I loved every bit of moving to a new home, including the stresses that went along with it.
This family sucks, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

... oh, and the lazy people?
NOT the manny, but these shitty employers that didn't want to take the time to scratch out a real reference or field a couple of phone calls!!

Anonymous said...

Do what many people in the business world do, write your own letter and ask them to read then sign if they agree. They may just not know how to do it and may be pressed for time. If you rewrite it then put their name without their knowledge you are commiting fraud and could be sued.

kate said...

I just feel that the OP is exaggerating his dilema. It's not so terrible for a family that's moving to not want to take a call while they're lives are unsettled from every single parent this manny may interview with. They've not been thoughtful, that's not in dispute, I don't think, but they've not really done anything more terrible than look after their own interests.

My opinion remains that the OP needs to look after his interests instead of whining on a blog and considering forging his employer's signature. It doesn't matter now how good or bad the family he worked for was, all that matters is his behavior. He can sit and feel bad for himself and vent to us or he can get up off his bum & fix his problem in a responsible way. His choice.

Anonymous said...

The OP says he worked for this family for five plus years. You don't keep a bad manny on or even a mediocre manny on for that long.
Letters of reference are very important for people in the childcare business. I am sorry but any nanny who is with a family for more than 2 years should get a great reference and any longer should get a glowing reference, otherwise the employer looks like a total asshole and negligent parent for employing this person for so long. I just cannot imagine allowing anyone I didn't love myself to be near my children, but I guess I'm a different kind of mother; the very involved, empathetic and street smart sort.

marypoppin'pills said...

Mr. Manny,
How about an update? How are you coming along?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Manny: I vote for 10:01's suggestion. Write your own factual letter (length of service, duties, etc.) and have employer sign, explaining you'll benefit from something a bit more detailed than what they'd previously provided. Please update us on what you've decided to do...Best of luck to you!

jennifer lecarlo said...

Sketchy. I don't understand who is going to hire a manny or nanny based on a letter of reference but sans verification. Most people I know are more thorough than that and with the advent of technology, it is now possible to check the reference's reference.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that someone would even consider the dishonest move of writing your own letter and tracing the employer's signature on it!
Perhaps these people don't want to give a better reference or be contacted because they weren't as happy with the manny's performance as he thinks they were. Perhaps they were relieved to be moving and rid of him because he was an okay manny but not a great manny. Lots of people keep their nanny much longer than they really want to simply because the next one may turn out to be worse than what they currently have. Just a thought...