10 Things I Wish Nannies Knew About Online Profiles

Photo by Victor1558 via Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo by Victor1558 via Flickr Creative Commons.

by farrah haidar

It happened. The inevitable. “Sorry, but my last day is going to be in two weeks.”

It’s enough to send any mom into full-fledged panic mode. Not only are you losing a person who has become a part of your family, someone your kids will miss, but now you have to find a replacement. The dreaded nanny search has begun.

Why dreaded? Some of the reasons are obvious: the anxiety of bringing someone new into your family life, the guilt of the sadness you expect your young children to feel, but mostly, it’s having to weed through dozens of applications and profiles trying to find the right fit. Going through the process after my nanny recently decided to move on, I found myself itching to fix the online nannying profiles to better showcase nannies who, unintentionally, were driving me away from contacting them. Nannies, it is my pleasure to provide you with these top tips to keep in mind for when you’re putting together your online jobseeker profile. Follow my tips and watch as even the most finicky and discerning parent employers flock to you.

Tip #1: Your target market isn’t any family.

It may seem counterintuitive, but spend some time really thinking about who you want to work for. Really sit down and imagine your ideal family; write down all of their characteristics. Now write your profile as if you were speaking to your dream family. Think of it like a courtship. Would you go on a dating website and say, “I’ll date anyone with a pulse!”? Not unless you wanted some really creepy replies. It’s the same for employers. I want to feel like I made a decision that is right for my family. And that’s not anyone, that’s someone who is going to take my nature-loving kid outdoors and lovingly soothe my sensitive six-month-old baby. Do this right and you’ll spend less time screening families and more time being hired.

Tip #2: Your profile shouldn’t be about you.

This sounds confusing, I know. After all, isn’t your profile supposed to talk about you? No, it’s supposed to talk about what you can offer me. This is often a matter of tweaking sentences. For example, if you’re an established yogi, don’t say, “My passion is yoga and I hope to become a certified instructor one day.” That makes me think that being a nanny is just a temporary situation and you’ll abandon my family as soon as possible. Instead, say, “As a practicing yogi, I incorporate physical activity and stretching into my charges’ lives.” Yes, much better.

Tip #3: Your picture matters.

It instantly tells me a little bit about you. Are you the grandmotherly type who is going to nurture my six month old? Or the active type who is going to keep up with my energetic four year old? You don’t have to be decked out or looking your best; just be casual and natural. And please pay attention to what is in the background! No late-night after-work drinks with slot machines in the background. (Yes, this is from a real example.) No pictures of you with your boyfriend (it just makes me wonder if he’s going to be in my house while I am out). Finally, be careful about including children in your photo unless they are your own. Although not all parents care, I am super sensitive to pictures of my children being posted online. When I see a nanny who has a picture of her and her charge, I always make a note to ask about whether she will be taking pictures of my kids.

Tip #4: Evaluate how you mention your own children.

I am sure the thought process is something like this: “I have young children, that makes me experienced”. Yes, it does, and, yes, it’s relevant. But what it really makes me wonder is where your children are going to be while you watch my child. If you are looking for an arrangement in which your kids can come along, say so upfront. If not, explain who is going to be watching your kids or where they are going to be when you are nannying for me.

Tip #5: Experience doesn’t matter as much as you think.

I know that what counts as experience can feel ambiguous. But if you're 18, you don't have ten years of experience. Don’t try to rack years of experience just to make your profile look stronger. A lot of parents are more concerned with personality fit than with how many diapers you’ve changed. (After all, once you’ve crossed the 20 diaper mark, how much more experience do you need?) Focus instead on your strengths.

Tip #6: Your profile should be cohesive.

If you mention that you are currently working with another family but list all of your hours as available, I am going to question that. Don’t make me work to figure it out. Be specific, upfront, and honest.

Tip #7: Your certifications and educational credits should be current.

If you're 25, the nanny course you took when you were 11 doesn't count. If you once did a CPR course that you haven’t maintained, you are not CPR certified. Just tell it like it is.

Tip #8: Your response rates are public.

Most nannies may not realize that their response rates are monitored on certain sites. If I see that you only reply 40% of the time and haven’t been online in two weeks, I know that you are either not available or not serious. My mouse automatically clicks to the next candidate.

Tip #9: Respect the family you’re with.

You may be transitioning from an existing job or looking to pick up more hours. That’s totally understandable, but clarify how you are going to deal with your current assignment. If you’re looking to pick up more hours and don’t mention what hours you are available, I worry that you are either going to inconvenience your current family or not be able to meet the hours I need that you committed to. Let me be clear: how you treat them is a reflection of how you are going to treat me.

Tip #10: Understand that I am busy.

During my recent search, I was contacted by a very enthusiastic nanny. I sent her a detailed job description and mentioned that I would like to interview her. She emailed back asking for the interview at 3 p.m. The next day at 7 a.m., I had another email from her asking me if I had received her previous email. I knew instantly that I didn’t want to hire her. There is a thin line between following up and badgering. I am looking for someone who is going to alleviate some of my responsibilities, not add to them by being needy. Give me at least a day, preferably two, before you follow up.

Are you ready, nannies? Head over to your online profiles and make these revisions, and may the luck of these tips be with you on your job search.