Submitted by Martina Keyhell
Getting into the nanny business is not as easy as you may initially think. Perhaps you’ve raised your own children and feel qualified to help others raise theirs, or maybe you’ve been laid off from work and think working as a nanny is a quick way to earn an easy buck.
The reality, however, is that many parents and placement agencies will only work with nannies that have several years of documented childcare experience. So while landing your first job isn’t impossible, it’s definitely going to take a concentrated effort.
So you’d like to secure your first nanny job. Now what?
Step 1. Gain childcare experience. To be considered as a viable nanny candidate, you must have some prior experience working with children. If you’ve done limited babysitting, consider expanding your client base and doing more. You could also gain experience by working as a “mother’s helper” or as an au pair. If you are not yet 100% confident in caring for children on your own, consider volunteering as an assistant in your church nursery or preschool, or connect with other organizations that service young children. There you’ll likely have experienced role models to learn from.
Step 2. Expand your training, knowledge and skills. If you aren’t yet CPR and first aid certified, make getting so a high priority. Consider taking early childhood education courses at your local community college or participating in a distance learning program especially for nannies or childcare workers. Attending conferences geared towards early childhood educators can also help you acquire knowledge and strengthen your skills. Read books on child development, subscribe to parenting magazines and educate yourself on best practices for nannies. Joining a local nanny support group or professional nanny association, like the International Nanny Association, can provide you with nanny specific resources.
Step 3. Secure letters of reference. As you gain childcare experience, either through volunteering or working, gather letters of reference. Keep a childcare journal and be sure to document the hours that you spend caring for children, along with the dates of care, parents contact information, children’s ages and your specific duties and responsibilities. In addition to childcare related references, secure a written character reference or two from a reputable member of your community that knows you well.
Step 4. Create a resume and portfolio. Put together a resume that outlines your work history, educational background and child care experience. Include a letter of intent that states why you wish to work as a nanny. In your portfolio, include any certificates that you have earned and letters of reference that you have gathered. You may also wish to include some photos that show you interacting with the children in your care (with their parent’s permission of course), as well as photos of any special projects you and the children have done.
Step 5. Use all available resources. Once you are ready to secure your first nanny position, let the world know. Tell your friends and family members, create a profile on eNannySource.com, contact your local placement agency, and put flyers in places where parents and children frequent. Not every parent will consider hiring a nanny that doesn’t have nanny experience. Cast your nets wide to find the parents that will.
Like with any career, getting your foot in the door is always the hardest part. Once you secure your first nanny job, provided you excel at it, getting future ones shouldn’t be so hard.