Friday, March 18, 2011

Setting Yourself Apart

Here are a few tips that could help you in getting your next nanny position or in hiring someone who is really an outstanding candidate.

  • Be Prepared: Have your resume updated and ready. Don't wait until you are on a job search.
  • Current Skills: Keep your CPR and First Aid certifications updated. If you have other skills that you bring to a position make sure those are fresh as well.
  • References: Provide accurate and complete information regarding your references. Include contact information, how the reference relates to you and how long you have known the individual. Contact your the people you want to include as a reference - get their permission and let them know who could be calling them. Don't assume that if you've asked someone to be a reference in the past you don't need to touch base with them each time you put them down as a reference.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Letters of recommendation are wonderful to have ready for review by potential employers. Beyond a reference for you these letters are able to go into details about the experience the individual had with you. After years go by and you may have lost contact with these people their letters will still be able to provide valuable information.
  • Resume: A current, accurate resume is well worth the time to construct and have ready when you need it. Include complete and accurate contact information - name, phone, email, address, etc. You may want to include a brief objective statement. Detail your employment history starting with the most recent and working backward, include start and end date, employer, and an overview of the job details. Educational background and other related experiences should also be covered. Try to keep a resume to one or two pages. There is a place for a more detailed resume in a professional portfolio.
  • Accuracy: Make sure that your information is accurate and complete. This is especially true of your employment history along with contact and reference information. Provide all your employment history, even if some of your jobs are not in the field you are looking.
  • Professional Portfolio: This is an option that allows you to review in greater detail your experience, background, training, skills, professional development and examples of your work when you interview for a position. The portfolio is a place to include an expanded resume with greater details about each position you've held and the skills that you have honed. It is an excellent place for your letters of recommendation. Many nannies like to include examples of activities they would do with children in their portfolio. Photos can be helpful in showcasing these activities - I recommend that no children can be identified in any photo. There are ways to get around this by taking the photo with the children's back to the camera, focus on the activity and hands involved rather than faces, or occluding faces that do make into a photo. Previous employers should see and approve any photos used in your portfolio that have their children in them.         
  • Interviewing: There are many aspects of the interview that should be kept in mind - appropriate dress, attitude, professional approach, prepared for questions, etc. I recommend to nannies who have been away from interviewing for some years or who are nervous to practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. Becoming comfortable in expressing yourself is part the process. When interviewing you may want to take notes about the position as the family shares those with you so you can reflect on them after the interview is over. Some families will want to set up a second interview and may have you interact with the children at that time. This is a good way to know if the job feels right for you and the family.
  • Follow Up: Following up with the family after the interview is appropriate. A hand written thank you is a nice way to express your appreciation for their time. Whether you are interested in the position or not, you should let them know that clearly. Always respond to the family in a timely manner - don't let messages go unanswered, try to get back to them as soon as you can.
Keeping some of these things in mind can help in getting through the job search process. Unlike a lot of other types of careers, nanny positions are very personal in nature so finding the right fit is vital. I tell families and nannies that being able to work together in a partnership is the most important piece in a successful placement.

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