The PSP Guide To Hiring a Nanny/Babysitter: Step 2: WHERE can you find Mary Poppins?

This section covers the search process including where to look for a nanny, how to write and post an effective ad and narrowing down the initial candidates

 

 UPDATED AUGUST 2015-- BETA VERSION. (Please send any feedback to )

 

In this section:

Finding great candidates

Posting an "In Search Of" message to garner candidates

Searching the Park Slope Classifieds

Narrowing down the candidates: the nanny phone interview

 

FINDING GREAT CANDIDATES:

There are many places to find a nanny, some better than others. Go through as many avenues as you have time for, but we emphasize asking friends, asking other nannies, posting ads on online parenting groups like the Park Slope Parents Classifieds (who screen references) and scanning the Nanny Available listing.

Contact Friends and Colleagues. First and foremost, email everyone you know. Post to your Facebook page, your baby group and more. You can ask your friends who have great nannies if their nannies know anyone looking for a job. Getting references from people who may know the nanny takes some of the ‘unknown quantity’ feeling out of the process. However, remember that one person’s Dream Nanny might be another’s Nanny Nightmare. I hired someone who my friend loved (for her housecleaning skills) who wasn’t hands on enough with kids for my needs (but my floor was shiny though!). While having a more familiar entity is great, you still have to figure out if the fit is right for you and family. Do your due diligence in checking multiple references. Also be careful that you don’t let yourself feel pressure to hire a nanny someone else loves when you may not feel the same.

Post an ISO nanny ad on Park Slope Parents Classifieds’ Group. If you’re a member of Park Slope Parents, you have access to the Classifieds Section where you can post an ISO nanny message. Our policy is that the recommender, rather than the nanny, contacts you. If you are in Brooklyn and still haven’t joined Park Slope Parents (open to parents in all of Brooklyn), JOIN NOW.

Using other Online Parenting Sites to Find A Nanny.  Park Slope Parents works diligently to avoid posting fraudulent recommendations and to educate our members on how to ensure what you're told by recommenders is true. Park Slope Parents has a dedicated Nanny Moderator who screens recommendations for Nannies, unlike many other email communities and websites. For most sites it's 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware). Remember, no matter the source, it's up to you to do your due diligence and not rely on "my neighbor used them" to justify not asking for verification.

Posting an ISO ad on any online parenting group will likely yield many responses. This is good but can also be overwhelming. It is the policy on Park Slope Parents that only recommenders send you information about a nanny rather than forwarding on your post to their nanny to contact you. You will therefore be getting emails from people who care enough about their nanny to take the time to follow up with you. If you do hear directly from a nanny, ask how they heard about your post (and pass those on to so we can follow up). Making a direct connection to a referrer is a great first step in narrowing down your pool of applicants.

Agencies. Agencies can also be a source for finding a nanny. This can be expensive but they do some of the pre-screening for you. Using an agency can cut out the time and effort of weeding out unqualified or inexperienced candidates, and by law they are required to check their work status, important if you are paying on the books. An agency can handhold you through things like the interview, background checks, the legalities of hiring domestic workers, how to pay your nanny, and a work agreement. See what nanny agencies PSP members recommend HERE.

Other Nannies. Other nannies can be terrific sources of information. If you know of a nanny in the neighborhood who seems like the sort of person you'd want to hire, ask her if she has any friends in the market. That said, realize that some Nannies want to help their friend but don't have employer perspective.

Additional sources. Ask your cleaning person, look for ads on bulletin boards in apartment buildings, houses of worship and community centers, and ask your pediatrician - some pediatricians keep files of Nannies in the neighborhood they know and recommend.

POSTING AN “IN SEARCH OF” MESSAGE TO GARNER CANDIDATES:

If you take the route of posting an ISO to Park Slope Parents (or another group), people will come to you. You know the days and hours you need a nanny and what you’ll be expecting them to do so it’s time to write the job description to post to Park Slope Parents. It doesn’t have to be sassy or intriguing. This is not your online dating profile. This is how you make your needs known. The key is to write your ad in a way that garners you the best candidates to fit your needs. Be specific on exactly what you want, the more detailed the better, including:

Make it clear, short, and honest. Be sure to include at least these basic specifications:

The Basics

    What is the start date?
    What are the days?
    What are the exact hours? (Especially important for part-time hours)
    Do you need flexibility? (Someone who can stay late and/or come early, do overnights and/or weekends? Live in?)
    What experience/expertise is required (e.g., cooking, twins, special needs, language, help with homework, driver’s license)?
    Do you need someone who lives nearby?
    Are you paying on the books?
    Do you want her to have first aid or CPR training? (Or use it as a perk to the job. HERE is a list of CPR classes)
    Age of your child(ren)
    A brief description of any family, lifestyle, or philosophy that is relevant (are you into attachment parenting? Are you vegetarian? Keep kosher? Are you a same-sex couple?)
    What kind of on the job duties are you expecting you nanny to perform?
    Request that ONLY references/employers contact you (this probably won't work, but it will help you weed through people who can't follow directions)
    Post an email address, NOT a phone number
    Request that recommenders provide you with their Nanny's full name (and other surnames or nicknames), address, and email.

Example Ad:

SUBJECT: ISO PT Nanny starting Septmber 2017

"We will need a Part Time (2.5 days a week) nanny for our twin daughters (1 at the point of hire point) starting after Labor Day.

Days are Tuesday and Thursday 8am-5pm, plus Friday morning, 8am-12pm). We are willing to make Friday a full day in exchange for some cleaning. Center Slope location

The ideal candidate will be

    warm and loving
    5+ years’ experience
    proactive and engaging
    reliable and open-minded
    willing to wear our daughter in a carrier
    have excellent references

We are looking for someone who will get down and play and laugh with our daughters, slide down the slide with her, and is okay with a two cats (though no cat care required).

Twins experience a month, as well as experience with cloth diapers and or potty training is a plus. Being open to all of those is necessary.

Please recommenders/employers only."

As a new mother of twins trying to get back to work, just dealing with the sheer volume of people responding to my posting was overwhelming… A few women were very aggressive and called and emailed multiple times. Again, I totally get their need to work, but it was just too much for me at a very stressful time. If I'm ever in this position again (and I hope that I'm not) I would definitely be more specific in my wording and not post my phone number.

SEARCHING THE PARK SLOPE PARENTS CLASSIFIEDS

If you are a member of the Park Slope Parents you can join our Classifieds group. (If you are a member and are not receiving emails please email and we’ll get you set up.) As a member you can receive emails individually, in a digest, or use a web-only version where you access message archives online.  Within the emails for kid gear, sublets, maternity clothes and more are nanny recommendations. These have {CHILDCARE] in the subject line so they are easy to spot, or you can set up a filter in most email programs to file these emails in a separate folder.

In addition to submitting an ISO post to Park Slope Parents Classifieds, you can also search existing recommendations from our members. On average, we receive 10-12 recommendations a day (up to 30 during peak ‘nanny season’ in June, July and August). There are a lot of adored and loved nannies out there, so if you feel it doesn’t fit with one candidate, don’t worry – your Mary Poppins could be just a PSP member recommendation away.

You’ve posted an ad but you can also be proactive in finding a nanny doing by searches on websites for available nannies. Here’s how to search for a nanny on Park Slope Parents’ Classifieds Group.

Basics:

    You’ll need to belong to the Yahoo! Group in order to have access
    You’ll need to have a Yahoo ID to log in to the Yahoo! web interface.
    Log on to through your Yahoo ID to: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ParkSlopeParents_Classifieds/

In the top box type where it says, “Search Conversations” type in “Nanny”. If you want to narrow down to only nannies available full time you can type in “nanny full time.”

 

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You should receive a list of results:

 yahoopage

 

Go through the last few weeks to get a feel for the types of nannies available. First off, realize that just about every post is for a "beloved," "amazing," "fantastic," "wonderful" nanny who is the "best nanny in the world." The kids are always "unbelievably happy," with credit going to the nanny and the wonderful relationship they have with the child.  While we don't doubt that this may be true for the family, this doesn't help you narrow down your search.  Find nannies that may fit your schedule and needs.  Copy and paste the "possibilities" into a word or Google document (or perhaps create a Google Site) so you have a record of the advertisement for future use. Take screen shots, print everything you find and paper clip it with the post is an organized way to help you remember what you've researched and most importantly, what you found. It can be difficult to keep track; and don’t get overwhelmed by information that could easily stay organized.

Much like the review process that Park Slope Parents conducts to verify the ad, you should also do your due diligence to find out more about the nanny. The Internet has given us the ability to research people who have left cyber-crumbs about themselves which can give you a sense of what the nanny is like and what kind of employer she worked for. You can:

    Search the nannies name. If there are multiple posts by multiple people then you can get a sense that the nanny hasn’t stayed long at a job. If one recommender keeps posting about a nanny multiple years it may be an older reference which means you need to check why they don’t have a more recent reference.
    Review past messages of the person giving the referral on the PSP Advice List and Classifieds. If they have multiple posts you can get a sense of their personality style.  Check and see what questions they ask, how they answer emails publicly, and so on to see if the recommender comes across as needy, supportive, argumentative, funny, helpful. Knowing the recommender is a step in knowing what kind of nanny they might likely have hired. However, many people join online parenting groups JUST to post about their nanny so don't be surprised if you don't find much.
    Search for the Phone number (and name if it's unique) to determine if the nanny candidate has been off and on the market
    Do a Google Search of the nanny's phone number
    Search Facebook using the email address of both the reference and nanny to verify the referral and get a sense (if privacy settings are tight) what kind of person the employer is.
    Search LinkedIn to investigate the employer’s job.
    Search Craigslist to see if you can see other ads about the candidate

If you find out any information you want to double check (e.g., “Why did X post 5 ads about you over 3 years?"), write that down so you can follow up with either the employer or nanny. Some people leave few digital tracks, so finding little information is not necessarily a bad thing. However, figuring out as much as you can helps you know that you’ve done your best at figuring out the background of your next nanny.

NARROWING DOWN THE CANDIDATES: THE NANNY PHONE INTERVIEW

Once you get a pool of candidates, it’s time to start contacting nannies and narrowing down your candidate pool. The first step is conducting phone interviews, which will give a sense of the nanny's attitude and to cover the essentials like she jiving with your schedule and fulfilling the job description. Do not feel obligated to do an in person interview with everyone you talk to by phone. If you have a good feeling, ask the nanny to fill out a work history form then schedule a face-to-face interview.

What’s a work history form?  PSP designed a work history form (or 'Nanny Application') that the nanny fills out with past jobs and references. It’s a quick and easy way to have all the information in one place so you can refer to it during interviews with the nanny and to have on hand to cross reference with the references. It’s also an easy way to double check gaps in work histories and verify employment with past references. If there are inconsistencies in the work history and what references are telling you as start and end dates of employment, follow up on these as they may be red flags.

Phone Interview Goals

Can she work when you need her to work?

Some nannies are eager to get work and will apply for jobs that don't fit their availability. Double check that she can fill the basic job description of needs, work hours and start dates.

Does she have the experience you need? If you are looking for someone with special skills (i.e.i.: experience with twins vs. a nanny share, language skills, ability to work in a home with animals) make sure you talk about that on the phone.

Are her references up to date? Feel free to ask questions to cross-check her references (i.e.: dates of last employment, days worked, ages of kids). You should double check these with the nanny’s references.

What are her pay expectations? If she's been paid a higher salary and is expecting more money than you can offer the situation may be a non-starter.

Reminder— The first call can say so much about a person. Be on the look out for warning signs. For example, if the nanny is taking care of children in the background during your phone call ask yourself what is the likelihood this will happen with your children? A quick, “Is this a good time to talk?” goes far in helping to create an environment where there is not background noise and diverted attention. However, some people are great caregivers but aren’t great on the phone. Remember that most nannies are not hired for their public speaking abilities so gauge appropriately.

Basic Questions for the Phone Interview

Experience

             How long have you been a nanny?
             How many other families have you worked with long-term as a regular nanny?
             How old are the children you've taken care of in the past?

Job Fit

             When can you start?
             What are the typical hours and days of employment that you expect?
             The days and times I need coverage are _________. Can you work those days/times?

Job Requirements

             Discuss if cleaning, cooking, or other miscellaneous housekeeping tasks are expected (and which ones).
             Mention if the job requires any strenuous physical activity (e.g., carrying a double stroller up to a 4th floor apartment) and inquire whether that is an issue for the candidate.

Optional (ask as needed)

             What kind of flexibility do you have with scheduling?
              Inquire if pets are an issue.
              Would you be able to work late nights? Weekends? Travel with the family if needed?
             Are you open to being paid on the books? Why or why not?
             Do you have children? What are their ages? Who cares for your children when you're at work (after school, school breaks, etc).
             Looking for a nanny with certain skills such as language, sign language, twins, CPR training, special needs kids, newborns, etc.? This is the time to address this. Ask specifics (such as date of last CPR training, if language skills involve both speaking and writing, and what exact special needs experience they have).
             Talk to the candidate about your family composition (e.g. same-sex couple, single mother by choice, interracial couple, unmarried couple, etc.) and religious beliefs and ask if the nanny would not accept a job with a family like yours.

Wrap Up

             Are you still interested in the job?
             Do you think that you could fulfill the responsibilities of this job?
             Are you willing to fill out a work history form to give me a better idea of your background? Do you have an email and I can send you the work history form to fill out? (You can use this email to do Google and Facebook searches to find out more information about the candidates.)

If you are still interested in this candidate you can set up an interview on the spot or call them back and schedule it later.  Either way, ask them to fill out a work history form that they bring it to an interview or email ahead of time.

“Having a written application is great to get the nitty-gritty out of the way so that the interview can mainly focus on larger issues/questions. I found it a good way to see how people can communicate, express themselves, read and understand other than verbally.

 KEY TAKE AWAYS FROM STEP 2

·        Clarity in your job description will glean the best candidates.

·        Take your time to do your homework researching the candidates you find yourself.

·        A phone interview is the best first step to narrowing down the candidates.

UPDATED JUNE 2017 (Please send any feedback to )

Onward and Upward to Step 3: WHO's it going to be?