Tips and Tricks

opinion 1
I am new to being a nanny and I was wondering if you all could offer some tips on setting up a portfolio, resume, and contract for interviews. I've been in childcare for 4 years (3 in daycare and just this last year as a nanny/sitter with temp jobs) and I've always let the family decide pay and duties. I know with my next job I'll need something more consistent as far as salary goes. Is it out of bounds to have a weekly minimum salary and they pay me even if they decide to take a day off? Something like $13.50/hr for 40 hrs a week, so $540 gross between set hours.


Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I have read about nannies asking their families to be paid even if they do not work and it seems to be the norm to me for them.

Personally, I never have been paid if I didn't work. I would like to, but usually the family will let me know ahead of time that they won't need me on such and such a day, and I just have to plan ahead with my finances.

This isn't ideal for me, but I deal with it because jobs are scarce now.

Others thoughts??

Anne said...

I don't know where you are located, and you don't need to tell me, but your weekly wage might be too low to meet your needs if you're trying to do it on your own. It might also be to high for your area to get hired.

I expect to be paid even if the family decides they don't need me that day or week. My bills don't go on vacation with them. It's not like I can take another job easily to cover that lost income.

For past interviews I dress nicely, bring references, and a resume with a brief description of childcare experience.

My last few jobs have been by word of mouth so the interviews have been a bit less formal.

Welcome to the field!

Jaqueline said...

Have references.
Have questions about the family and children. Gear the questions towards the development and ages of the kids.
In your contract outline what days and hours you are expected to work. Salary, time off, benefits, duties etc

MissMannah said...

On interviews, I always tell parents that if they request I not work then I will still be paid. However if I request I not work then I will not be paid. Sometimes parents go for this, sometimes they don't. If they don't, that's my way of weeding out the cheap people I don't want to work for. I don't do sick pay and I very rarely take vacation time and most of the time I find that the parents will go ahead and pay me for the one or two days I am on vacation.

I never set my own pay, but I always go in with a general number in mind. Around here, if you can get $10/hr, you're considered lucky. This job I'm about to start, the mom is from out of town and didn't know that, so when I asked her "How much were you and your husband thinking as far as wages go?" She said "Well, we really can't afford $20 an hour..." and I almost fell out of my chair laughing. If the parents try to low-ball you, come back with "That could work, but I usually don't accept much less than $x per hour, but maybe we can do..." Make sure $x is a little MORE than you would want, so you can be willing to come down a bit.

You mentioned resume and portfolio. I know some nannies bring all sorts of fun stuff to interviews, but I don't. I have a one-page resume and I attach my letters of recommendation to it. Try to get ahold of some of your babysitting jobs and ask them to write up a (signed) letter for you. Those things are gold! One of my former employers notoriously does not answer his phone or return calls so if I didn't have his letter I would look like a big fake by putting him down as a reference.

In the interview itself, come prepared with questions pertaining to the job and the children. Ages, development, discipline styles, family rules, work hours, need for flexibility, anything you can think of. The parents will appreciate it.

Nanny S said...

I don't think a portfolio is necessary. For your resume, you can buff up your experience as a nanny/sitter. I "nannied" three hours per week for a family for the past three years. The mother is always a glowing reference for me. I never mention that it's only three hours per week when giving her as a reference, and the families never ask/care. Families don't really care if you're working 60 hr weeks or 3 hr weeks, so don't mention that.

For the interview, have the mindset that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Ask them to describe how their ideal nanny would best fit into their family and how they would function alongside the parents. I am weary of parents who do not say something like "We support and enforce whatever the nanny says 100%, little Johnny knows this and knows there will be consequences if we hear he is misbehaving." Talk about parenting styles and their perspective, their child's development and anything pertinent to knowing the child as a person. Ask them what they expect from their nanny, and DEFINITELY ask them about their past nannies and how long they've stayed, etc. I am personally VERY weary of first time nanny employers. They don't really seem to "get it", and by it, I mean they seem to think the nanny is overpaid and lazy, and don't really feel the responsibility of being an employer, so if you're interviewing with them, proceed with caution.

As for the contract, I usually preface the discussion by saying that everything is negotiable for me, except for respect and that shows in many different ways, and before the parents suggest anything I ask them to be mindful of if the situation were reversed, would it be okay for them? For example, if a mother would not appreciate me calling 20 minutes before I was due to arrive and tell her I was taking the day off, please do not call me on short notice and tell me that I am not needed that day, without full compensation. I have only been a part time nanny so my contracts have been very brief, only including duties and pay, no sick days or health insurance, etc. The only thing I suggested in my contract that they agreed to was that if their child was sick, I would not come in. I put this in because I am currently a full time student as well as have a part time internship, so I cannot afford to let the repercussions of a sick child spill over into those other areas. If I were a full time nanny without other obligations, I think I would be less hesitant.

For salary, I think the best situation all around is to be paid hourly with a minimum weekly salary, as you said. If you're paid salary, then the nanny usually feels the parents abuse it and come home late, or the parents feel the nanny is leaving too early. Hourly plus an agreed upon minimum avoids that situation while still providing financial stability to the nanny. Some families don't like this. If you don't like it, that's up to you, but I personally would never agree to a full time position where hours being cut leaves me without salary. The parents I work for need to realize they are my employers and I depend on them just as they depend on their jobs. If I don't feel that respect, then they're not the employers for me. For taking a day off, you could set a minimum notice--like a month or a week's notice you will go without pay, but anything less, you won't.

For your hourly rate, have a minimum in mind based on your area and experience, and don't be afraid to walk away.

I think this was a lot of information, and if I sound very direct and firm it's because when I first started nannying I was a complete doormat and parents took advantage of me. At one point I was taking care of four kids and cleaning a three story house for about minimum wage. I learned how to be assertive the hard way.

OP said...

Thank you all so much for the tips.

I've been emailing with one family, and I liked them at first but now I am having second thoughts. Seems like they might be a bit pushy. Would be boss, didn't seem to like that I would need to give 2 weeks notice if hired. I am working part time for another family and that's what we a greed on when I started if I were to find a full time job. We don't interview until after Christmas so we'll see how it goes.
I am nervous negotiating the contract if it comes to that.

MissMannah said...

Always listen to your instincts with families. If they seems pushy over email, they are going to be a million times worse in the long-term. If you get a "weirdo" vibe in an interview, don't try to ignore it and give them the benefit of the doubt, 9 times out of 10 they will turn out to be weirdos. I have met some really strange people over my career but I've met some really lovely people too.

"Ask them to describe how their ideal nanny would best fit into their family and how they would function alongside the parents."

Nanny S, that is a great idea!

MetTheFamily said...

So I met with the family, they seem nice, abd their expectations sem reasonable. I still have concerns about the time issue.