Quite a few people enter into the nanny world with no intention to stay, but every once in a while it claims the life of a naïve person who’s fallen in love. I would say that’s the story for many of us. Now we’ve got our foot in the door, but where do we go from here? How do we navigate this foreign career path?
There are several things that have made me successful at my job, but I have had to learn almost everything along the way. Had I known about pay expectations, FLSA laws, and the existence of nanny agencies from the start, I would have gone about things differently.
Although I don’t regret the path I took within my career (allowing me to share my experiences with you), I know it’s helpful to have a guide for this unconventional field. Let me provide a basic outline…
Know the Job
The first step to success as a nanny is to become educated about your desired career in order to decide if it’s really something you want to do. You won’t know everything before accepting a job, but you never will. It’s a constant learning process.
What you can start with is knowing the expectations of a nanny’s job, pay rates/benefits and laws, as well as basic childcare knowledge. Most everything else can be learned through experience.
Have a Professional-Looking Résumé
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take yourself seriously. Even if you don’t have extensive experience or a glowing list of references (yet!), potential employers are going to think twice before putting your résumé aside if they can see your diligence on paper. Putting forth the effort to create a professional-looking résumé is worth it every time.
Although you may see it as a piece of paper listing previous jobs, it’s actually the first step at proving your worth as a professional. Parents want a nanny they can trust to care for their children and their home. That means they want someone who understands the gravity of their job. Providing a professional résumé shows that you do. It will stand out to them.
Of course I can’t guarantee a professional résumé will get you the job, but it will help increase your chances of receiving an offer.
It may seem obvious to behave professionally while interviewing, but it isn’t always a consideration as an employee. No matter how comfortable you feel around your nanny family, it’s important to remember that you are a professional (or want to be seen as one) and therefore should act like one.
But what is considered professional behavior? What is appropriate to talk about? How do I bring up awkward topics? How should I dress?
A good place to start when communicating with employers is to treat them and their home with respect. Complaining, interrupting, and choosing not to listen to their wishes are all ways you may find yourself without a job. Focus on the fact that nannying is a service-oriented job. You work FOR the parents, doing what you can to make their lives easier (within reason*).
It can be difficult to know where the line is as an employee of people who often become like family. I try to follow these three rules when it comes to topics of conversation:
- Employers often want to know about you, so don’t be shy to talk about yourself, but keep sensitive topics and opinions about said topics to a minimum.
- Refrain from talking negatively about any former nanny families or your current family’s former nannies.
- If you’re over 21, your nanny family probably knows (or assumes) you consume alcohol, just don’t talk about it. And definitely do not talk about anything drug-related with your employers.
Having a lighthearted attitude as a nanny can be very helpful, especially when bringing up a tricky topic. Inevitably, you will find yourself trying to figure out how to tell your employers that their child asked about something very mature, or did something inappropriate at school. It happens. What’s important is knowing how to bring it up in a mindful way. Mocking the situation isn’t helpful, but expressing concern and asking how the parents want to handle the situation is usually all that’s necessary.
Appropriate clothing can be very subjective. Realize nannies are role models and should dress modestly, comfortably, and practically. If unsure as to what that looks like, jeans and a T-shirt are an easy go-to.
Put the Phone Away
Texting and web surfing should be kept to a minimum when around the children. Your job is to provide enrichment and attention. Phones do the opposite of that. And keep in mind when posting to social media that your nanny kids are not your kids, and therefore you should always have permission from parents before putting their kids’ names and faces on the internet. This is SO important!
Even though some parents have agreed to hire you, and may be very excited about it, that doesn’t mean they trust you fully from the start. You still have to prove yourself trustworthy, reliable, and committed. Commit to your position for as long as you can. Longevity is a great way to prove yourself as a professional nanny. Continue to behave professionally and fulfill your job requirements, provide enrichment ideas, and agree to babysit during your off hours. These are just some of the ways you can show your employers that you are serious about your job that will put them at ease. Prove yourself, and then prove yourself again.
I know starting in a new job field can be very daunting, especially when you know little to nothing about it. The exciting thing about nannying is that there is always something to learn. No one has all the answers. It’s okay to admit when you don’t know something. Look for ways to improve your craft, and reach out to other nannies for help and support. Co-raising someone else’s kids is a big deal, so take yourself seriously as a caregiver and role model by continuing to educate yourself.
•••Best of luck!•••
*Yes, your job is to serve your employers and to respect them, but you also deserve respect as a nanny. If you ever feel overworked, underpaid, or like you’re being taken advantage of, it’s important to speak with your employers (in a professional manner) to try to resolve the issue.