Wednesday

The Waiting Game

rant 1 After living in a college town for approximately four years, I recently began to see the childcare profession as extremely competitive. Parents need childcare, and there are providers everywhere you look-the daycare center, the stay-at-home-mom, and the nanny. Childcare options are everywhere. Out of the three types of caregivers, the most competitive I found was the nanny. Some parents prefer the comfort of a nanny inside their home, whereas others prefer their child to attend a daycare center, as they may not be able to afford the luxury of a nanny. In either case, I never thought that finding a nanny job in a college town would be so difficult. My competition? Twenty something university students with little experience in childcare.

That being said, I have applied for jobs listing the following qualifications: "must have experience with our child's age group, enjoy interacting with children, and own transportation. Early childhood education students encouraged to apply". I meet all the "qualifications": I exceed the experience with children, as I have worked with all ages, I love working with children, I have a car, and I am a student majoring in early childhood ed. Aha! I don't attend the prestigious four year university by choice. I am beginning to wonder if parents even read resumes-one family who listed these qualifications sent me a reply telling me they had over a hundred applicants and one was chosen. They signed the reply with best. I was livid. How could they list basic qualifications and send such a snotty reply? Did they really count every reply to the position, or did they look at my resume, understand that I exceed their qualifications, resulting in a feeling of fear that I am well-qualified to babysit their child, even though I am not a university student or grad?

"You have great experience and a background and we really like you. Unfortunately, you do not attend the university and are experienced, and therefore, we feel that you aren't qualified enough to work for us, based on the name of your school".

I can hear them saying this as I send my resume to prospective families in town. Most of the time, I don't even get a reply. It's rude, frustrating and childish. I am beginning to wonder if parents even know what a qualified babysitter and nanny look like. I am giving some consideration into building a website for myself, highlighting my background, experience, and education. I plan on opening a nanny agency within the next year, and I feel the website would be a great way to introduce me to the community.

Last week, I decided to apply for a nanny job because I am frustrated with my current job. That being said, I applied for a job with a family who is willing to work around my school schedule. From the way the mother was talking, she made it seem as though I got the job, and even discussed insurance with me via email. I sent her a reply about the insurance and mentioned I was looking forward to coming over Saturday to hang out with the kids, and haven't heard a response from her about that or a start date. She loved my work agreement, and wants a copy of it, however, I have reservations about sending something like that to her without a formal offer. I don't consider myself with a job offer until I hear back from her about a start date.

In the meantime, I guess I will sit patiently and wait until I find a family that is everything I am looking for....

19 comments:

Firefly said...

I would think the Mom is not going to extend a formal offer/start date until she has a copy of your proposed work agreement (contract?) in hand. That is pretty much basic contract negotiation, you can't hold an important document back and expect an offer.

I am not sure why you were so upset by the e-mail response you received telling you they received over a 100 replies and went with someone else. Why was this so rude and childish? Most people don't even bother to do this. Your imaginary thoughts about what prospective employers think of your school seem like pure projection on your part. Very few employers for nannies are looking for an Ivy League background, it is not like a law firm.

Realize that employers have the upper hand at this point in time. If a prospective employer wants a copy of something (that would affect her after all) give it to her! If you are so worried about it, trademark it through an inexpensive on-line company. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

Truth Seeker said...

You are right on about the Nanny profession being competitive. I remember three to four years ago, I could get Nanny jobs within weeks of looking. Not the case anymore. I am currently unemployed and have been since the middle of May. :( The economy is still in the tank no matter what anyone says and times are still really tough. Laid off teachers and other professionals affected by budget cuts are all waiting in line for these few Nanny positions and I feel like I will never get a job.

It is stupid that a family is looking at what college you are attending to decide if that makes you a great Nanny or not. How dumb is that?? For a corporate job, I totally understand and see why they would do this. But for a Nanny job?! Unfortunately, I see many families doing this. They are looking PURELY at credentials. What college you attend or attended, what degree you have from A.A. to Ph.D. It's as if an Ivy League Grad would make a better Nanny than say a Junior College student studying Child Development!! Education does not "teach" you how to be a good Nanny. A good Nanny has a loving heart, a patient demeanor as well as a very outgoing and fun personality. Many folks w/their Ph.D's do not posses these qualities by nature. I would rather have a youthful, bubbly and playful Nanny w/no college degree than an educated Nanny who does not GENUINELY enjoy the company of children by nature. Wouldn't you?

There is a agency in my area called "University Sitters" which stresses that you can get a great babysitter for your child(ren) since they can provide someone from a University to watch them. You pay a lot, but hey...you get someone who attends either a State or University school. Big Deal. Most of these girls are majoring in Science or Business and no next to nothing about children.

Truth Seeker said...

*know

MissMannah said...

I'm dealing with the exact same thing right now. And I have a little story of my own:

I had 2 interviews last week, one ended up offering me the job but it was my second choice, I told them I would let them know after I heard back from the other family. The 1st choice family said they had 3 other interviews over the weekend but were *definitely* making a decision by Tues and would *definitely* let me know either way by Wed. The mom stressed several times that she is professional and hates it when bosses leave her high and dry and never call back. So today is Thurs and have I heard back? Nope! I even called last night and left a voicemail stressing that I need an answer ASAP. So I emailed my 2nd choice family and accepted the position and I'm calling them tonight and I sure as heck hope they haven't given up on me and given the position away to someone else!

By the way, you said you have your own work agreement. I've never written my own, but I am going to for this family because I know that they are new to nanny world and have no idea how to write one out themselves. Do you mind telling me what all you have on yours? Sorry to take this post off on a tangeant.

Bostonnanny said...

Where are you? I find your whole idea that parents are turning you down because you don't go to ivy league is crazy and in your head. I live in Cambridge down the street from Harvard with Boston over the bridge and being one of the biggest college cities with top schools in education. I've always worked for parents who have graduated from Harvad, Yale and MIT. I went to community college before I transfered to a state school and have never ever had a problem getting a job that pays the standard if not more for my area.

A website will only take you so far and half the time parents don't look at it, I know I have one. What they want is referrals from friends and amazing references. You need to network! Make business card, flyers, and babysit a lot. Your cover letter and resume should be in tip top shape.

Finding a job should be your job and it's not gonna happen overnight. You are competing with former teachers, social workers and cheap labor. Set yourself apart, what is the one thing that none of them have that you do?

Wow said...

MissMannah...

You can go to nanny websites like
4nannies.com and care.com for work agreements, or Google "nanny work agreements".

Village said...

I have to say something about the idea of starting a nanny agency. If you can't or haven't gotten a job as a nanny, how are you going to start a business? It seems to me you will need families as well as other sitters, and you have neither.

The way to start an agency is to get so much work you can't do it all. This means working for more than one family, full time, part time, and single sits. When you have so much business you can't handle it all, then you hire someone to help you. Then when the two of you can't do it all, then you hire another. And remember, all the families are going to be trying to snatch your sitters out from under you unless you are really good at what you do.

From someone who once had an agency that made $300,000 year, while I was in school years ago, I suggest you get to work, and the agency will find you. That is what happened to me. I had so much work I eventually had six sitters working for me, but I checked on everyone during each sit, and made sure that were complying with the standards of the agency, which included specified housework. I think coming home to a tidy living area and a spanking clean kitchen was my secret to success.

Bostonnanny said...

Village,

I agree with you. Mulitple nannies I've spoken with have mentioned starting an agency. It's really quite funny because these nannies are the ones who are getting taken advantage of and can't seem to find decent jobs. They assume they can just start up a website for an agency and make a ton of money. I want to laugh in their faces. None of the ones I've spoken to can market themselves and i have no idea what makes them think they can do it for others?

I see it as them being insecure as a nanny and wanting to have a more prestigious title.

MissMannah said...

Wow, I looked at contracts nanny websites provide, but they are very parent-centric. (If that even makes sense). They all seem to imply that the nanny is under the parents' control. I googled some more contracts and took the best bits from contracts I liked and ended up writing my own, and I think it is fair and even-handed. Meeting with the parents tomorrow so hopefully they'll agree.

MissMannah said...

PS: This is only a concern for me because I didn't realize my last contract was so parent-centric. I was fired because I didn't agree to a drastic pay cut. I consulted a lawyer and she said that due to the way the contract was written the parents were well within their rights.

Bostonnanny said...

MissMannah,

I did the exact same thing, the contracts by those websites are bullshit. My contract that I wrote protects me and my employers.

Wow said...

I suggested those sites to look at the contracts as a base. Of course each nanny has to come to agreement with each family to pound out the details, based on what the family needs and what the nanny is willing to do.

I'm in agreement with you that the contracts are parent-oriented. In fact, the whole nanny industry is parent-oriented. Because of the origin of the industry, we have to speak up as professionals and change that by not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of.

MissMannah...

Good luck on your meeting with the parents tomorrow. Praying that it all works out well for you! Keep us posted.

OP said...

To answer a few questions:

I live in a Midwestern college town. The school in which I am referring to is UW-Madison.

As for what I have that makes me a good nanny:

Experience with all ages

High energy level (I was once asked if I was on street drugs because the mother was concerned about my high energy level)

Incredible patience, even with the most colicky infant

A sense of humor

Experience with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds

Ability to be a team player

Dependable and reliable

Yet for some reason, I am the overlooked person who parents seem to steer clear of when it comes to babysitting jobs and nanny jobs. It's like they want to give me a chance, only they are intimidated by my years of experience.

As for an agency, I was told by an agency owner that I would be good at running an agency. I am not looking to become rich from owning an agency, because I know it won't happen.

Bostonnanny said...

Are you asking for higher then the going rate? Are you talking to much during the interview, really trying to sell yourself(that can be a negative)? What do you consider years of experience? Do you have a detailed resume? How do you dress? Are there things you refuse to do as a nanny? There are a lot of smaller details that can affect the way parents view you. You need to sit down and really review how the parents acted during the interview, how you answered questions and if you even had any connection.

I dunno what it's like in the mid west concerning college but coming from an area with ivy league and about 20+ other great colleges all within 10miles of each other, I can't seem to grasp the idea that your only reason for not getting hired is because you don't go to a certain University.

Bostonnanny said...

By the way everything you stated about yourself is very generic. You need to express knowledge about how you know you are patience, full of energy etc, by using examples from previous experiences. People are not just going to take your word for it.

Truth Seeker said...

@Boston Nanny:
Great great advice. :)

another nanny said...

It's incredibly frustrating looking for a job, but I know that in this job market it is common for parents to get (at least) 100 responses to a job posting. Just because you meet their qualifications doesn't mean you automatically score an interview- are they really going to interview 50 people?

Bostonnanny gives some really good advice. I would add that with your "years of experience" you need to point out how you adapted yourself to various families. Families are sometimes afraid that a nanny has too many ideas about "the right way to do things" and therefore will not take direction well. You need to make it clear that meeting this family's individual needs is your top priority (IMO).

OP said...

Anon: I have been babysitting since middle school, and can walk into any daycare and get a job. I have spent the last thirteen years in daycare, so therefore, I didn't just enter the workforce.

As for CL, I found my previous nanny job and my current job in a childcare center there. It may be my resume, however, I did contact a nanny agency here in town about the issue, and she said the same thing. Parents here seem to prefer younger applicants. I asked her if she thought it was my resume, and she said she loved my resume. I respect everyone's opinion regarding this issue, however, if an agency owner sees the same thing I do and loves my resume, I am inclined to agree with the agency. I do think that my age and experience are intimidating to parents.

Bostonnanny said...

OP,
A nanny agency will tell you whatever you want to hear. A good majority are full of shit. Parents that I met prefer applicants that are older for various reasons. I would like to add that although childcare centers are great, a lot of parents are looking for employees who have been a nanny for years. Being a nanny is different then Working as a lead teacher. I personally think they are linked and very similar but a majority of parents don't see it that way. This is especially true for families who chose a nanny instead of a daycare because of quality of care. They my see you as needing supervision or set in your preschool/daycare ways.

And it is true that employers are receiving 100s of resumes through craigslist or childcare websites. They don't have time to look at everyone, so don't be surprised if your not called.

Also how much are you charging and what benefits do you expect? If your competing with college students who charge less, then money usually talks. Parents like cheap help.