Top Tips for Creating a Pitch-Perfect Nannying Résumé and Cover Letter

Photo courtesy Peter Griffin via Creative Commons license.

by gaby morris

I’m often asked how can I make my résumé effective and basically better than other people’s. The answer lies in creating a simple-to-understand, honest, professionally edited document that is easily read by someone with tired eyes and limited patience. Stating this is, of course, easier than achieving it, so to help you with your task of revamping your résumé, check out these tips, facts and thoughts, gleaned by my eye that’s seen every blunder known on the jobseekers’ most important documents.

What Exactly Is a Résumé?

Going back to its roots, the French word “résumé” means to restart something; in English there is also the implication of returning—in this case, returning to the work force. On the surface that doesn’t seem to connect with the document you are presenting, however it’s actually intimately connected. In order to understand who someone is, one needs to understand where that person came from. There’s an old Broadway song called “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish”. Give it a listen. Understanding this idea of working to get somewhere will help you get the right tone and give your résumé its voice. The document should explain your career path, what you have done, what you are doing now, and what you hope to do in the future.

Your résumé is also a marketing tool for showcasing your talents and potential ability and should be of a standard to send to a potential employer to entice them. Think of it as a way of saying to strangers, ‘Hey, look at me, and if you choose not to you may be missing out!”

Does Presentation Matter?

On the basis that this may be the difference between being sorted into the “for consideration pile” as opposed to the “not suitable” pile, I think the answer to this question speaks for itself!

Having your résumé professionally edited or at the very least formatted by someone who has good knowledge of how documents should look is essential. If you can’t afford to hire a professional résumé service, at the very least send it to a friend who was an English major in college and offer to buy them coffee to show your appreciation. A misspelled word on your résumé makes you appear to lack attention to detail, and that’s more than likely not the look you’re going for.

Content

It is crucial that the content in your résumé be accurate and not scattered with half-truths and wishful thinking. Always be mindful to keep clear the link between what is written and how it relates to your desired next step, be it employment or further education.

Jobs sometimes go wrong. You may have been fired from your most recent position. Don’t shy away from addressing this in your résumé – this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. But naming and shaming someone in a résumé because you felt they treated you poorly is considered bad form. Never say anything bad about anybody during an interview or in your résumé or cover letter.

Updates in knowledge and qualifications should be stored and uploaded to your résumé on an ongoing basis regardless of whether you are seeking employment or not. When you do need to present your qualifications to someone, avoid going into meltdown mode trying to remember dates and details by making it a habit to update your résumé after every professional development activity you complete.

Order of Events

Make it as easy as possible for someone to read your résumé. I recommend (having read thousands of résumés) starting with the most recent job and working backwards. Let’s put it this way: the “you” that is being considered is the “you” that you are now, so present that first.

Personal Statement

This is incredibly important as it frees you to write about your wider interests, which may not have been conveyed elsewhere. Check your grammar and punctuation meticulously and speak to the job or course you are applying for. This may well mean creating a different personal statement for every application; in fact, it’s encouraged.

The Internet as a Resource

The Internet is awash with advice about how to improve your résumé, and frankly it’s hard to advise which website to go to because most of the information out there is geared toward seekers of office-based jobs. Nannies have a conundrum: how do they convey to employers or educational institutions their experiences without making each position sound the same as the previous one (aside from perhaps the age of the child)? Demonstrating improved skills and deepening knowledge is an ever-present challenge.

Nevertheless, the Internet is useful is for you to refresh your knowledge of professional phrases and current terminology. Try not to repeat terms but instead look at different ways of describing skills learned and personal progress made.

Don’t Include THESE No-Nos!

  • Former and current employers’ children’s photos or names
  • Hobbies such as retail therapy or going out to clubs
  • Inaccurate employment details
  • Employment by family members (unless it was on a professional paid basis with a contract of employment; even then the nature of the relationship must be crystal clear)
  • Misinformation about qualifications or accomplishments
  • Your personal contact details unless you are happy to let anyone (and I mean anyone!) have this information; once you send your résumé to strangers, you may as well consider it public (the solution is to set up an email address especially for job applications.)
  • Your own photo (unless you are specifically asked for it)

References

Simply write “references available upon request”. Your references may vary according to the position you are applying for and by virtue of time passing. Always have permission before using someone as a reference. Would you want someone randomly calling you for a reference you hadn’t agreed to provide?

Cover Letter

Many employers and admissions officers will not consider applications unless there is a cover letter. The purpose of the cover letter is so basic: to ascertain that you are applying for the correct job or course.

The cover letter is rather like the window at the front of a store. It invites you in. It says there’s much more inside and this is simply a sample! It needs to speak to the role you are applying for in a direct and easy-to-follow fashion.

If you sent your résumé by email, just send the cover letter in the body of the main email. If your cover letter is a hard copy, send it in the same envelope with the application form.

Cover Letters Must:

  • Be directed to the correct person at the correct address
  • Note clearly the position you are applying for, including location
  • A reference number if noted on the advertisement
  • Where the post was advertised or who recommended you apply
  • Include a variety of ways to contact you
  • If you are cold calling, the cover letter must explain why you are presenting yourself.

Some Final Words of Wisdom

Make note of everyone you have written to and when, and if you do not hear back within seven working days, contact them again. There’s a chance the email may have dropped into spam, and the postal service isn’t foolproof.

Set up a file where you keep track of details regarding who you have written to and how you are managing each individual application.

Take your own copy of your résumé with you to your interviews. It’s the perfect tool and can act as a prompt for information you may wish to impart.

Even with all these tips and pointers, the number one thing to remember is to have faith in yourself! What tips do you have to share?