50 Tips for Finding and Keeping Your Ideal Nanny Job

Even Mary Poppins isn’t the right nanny for every family. When conducting your nanny job search, it’s essential that you strive to find the right family and right job for you. Each nanny will have a different set of employment expectations. Understanding what your expectations are can help guide you to the right family and right nanny job for you.

  1.  Consider What’s Most Important to You. Every nanny has things that she values most in a nanny position. Whether it’s being treated like a member of the family, having a four day workweek or working for parents who both work outside of the home, a nanny must identify what’s most important to her in a job and find a job that offers those things.
  2. Articulate Your Must Haves. Whole some things a nanny is willing to be flexible on, others not so much. Perhaps you need the freedom to take the children on outings or require that your employer be compliant with tax laws. It’s important to identify you nonnegotiables and to avoid jobs that that don’t offer you your must haves.
  3. Take Note of Anything You Aren’t Willing to Do. Whether it’s doing the parent’s laundry or taking care of the family pet, if there are duties you aren’t willing to take on, be prepared to disclose that information early on to the parents and to avoid jobs that require the nanny to take on those tasks.
  4. Write Down Your Ideal Job Description. Put your ideal job description down on paper. Consider your ideal duties, responsibilities, role and schedule. Knowing what you want makes finding it easier. 
  5. Review Previous Placements. Consider your previous nanny positions and evaluate what you liked most and what you liked least about each one. Use this information to help you make an informed employment decision.
  6. Clearly Present Your Parenting Philosophy. While parents and nannies don’t have to have to be clones of each other, it’s important that the nanny is willing to support the parent’s parenting philosophy. If a nanny is anti-attachment parenting and the parents are huge proponents of it, it’s going to be problematic.
  7. Determine if You Want to Live-in or Live-out. Consider if your position must be a live-in or live-out one. You’ll also want to consider if you’re willing to accept a live-in position for the right family if you’re gung-ho on living out.
  8. Consider Where You Wish to Work. Some nannies prefer to work in a major metropolitan hub while others much prefer to stick to the suburbs. Identify what type of community you’re most attracted to and apply for positions within them.
  9. Write Down the Benefits You Desire. From health insurance to paid time off, consider your expectations when it comes to benefits. Look for parents who are offering similar benefits.
  10. Set Your Salary Range. When searching for a job, it’s essential that you have a clear idea of your weekly salary goals. Be sure to communicate your wage expectations in gross terms and break down your salary into an hourly wage that is complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Restrict your job search for parents who are offering pay in your required salary range.
  11. Know Your Strengths. What makes you really good at your job? What can you bring to a family? Perhaps you’re really good at managing a toddler and infant or you’re really able to relate to the preteen set. Consider your strengths and market them accordingly.
  12. Identify Your Weaknesses. What areas in your work life could use improvement? If you’re not the best cook, working for a family that requires nightly family meal preparation could be a nightmare.
  13. Present Yourself as a Professional. From your first interaction to you last day at work, be professional. Show up on time, dress appropriately, treat your employers with respect and give 100%.
  14. Represent Yourself Accurately. Don’t embellish your experience or stretch the truth when it comes to your education. Present a true picture of who you are and what you can deliver. When you’re the authentic you, you’re easier able to find parents who will embrace you.
  15. Market Yourself to the Right Families. Be sure you’re searching for a job where the right types of families are looking for a nanny.  If you’re searching for a live-out job on the high-end of the salary scale, you’ll want to look in major metropolitan areas and not small suburbs.
  16. Use All of Your Job Search Options. Don’t limit yourself to one agency or one online nanny recruiting site. Cast your net wide so that you’re exposed to as many families searching for families as possible.
  17. Contemplate Your Care Giving Style. Are you super regimented or more laid back? Consider your care giving style and be sure to choose a family who has a compatible style.
  18. Know Your Bottom Line. While negotiations are part of securing the job, you’ll need to know how much you’re willing to lower your salary and job expectations for the right job.
  19. Describe Your Dream Job. From the personality style of the parents to the ages and stages of the children, visualize your dream job, write it down and compare job opportunities to it.
  20. Take Advantage of Interviews. Interviews shouldn’t be one-sided. Use the interview to ask questions about the family’s care giving history, typical routine, schedule and how they envision their nanny to fit into their family.
  21. Screen the Family. Ask to speak to the former nanny and to a few character references. Consider doing a background screening on the family. Use social media and the Internet to learn more about your potential employers. Gather as much information as possible to make an educated employment decision.
  22. Discuss Duties in Detail. Be sure you clearly understand what the duties of the job would be. Don’t gloss over the statement that “light housekeeping is required”. Specifically ask what vague terms mean, compile a bulleted list of duties and ask the parents to confirm you’ve summarized the duties correctly.
  23. Consider Any Cons. Evaluate the cons of each position and determine if the pros outweigh them or if they will take too much effort to overcome.
  24. Consider What Personality Types You Work Best With. Some nannies work best with outgoing type A personalities and others work best with more mellow employers. Consider the personality type you typically mesh best with and look for employers who your most compatible with.
  25. Identify the Age Range of Children You Most Enjoy Working With. Nannies tend to have specific age groups they prefer working with. Some nannies serve as newborn care specialists while others tend to enjoy working with preschool aged children and older. Look for families who have children in this age range.
  26. Go on a Working Interview. Take the opportunity to test drive the working relationship. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and see if you like how it feels.
  27. Identify Your Preferred Model of Care. Some nannies are full-charge nannies and receive little or no daily direction from parents and others do best when the parents present the schedule and tasks for them to implement. Consider what care model suits you best and look for parents who are interested in the mode of care you’re providing.
  28. Describe Your Ideal Work Family. From the ages and gender of the children, to how they communicate with their nanny, make a wish list of expectations you have of potential employers.
  29. Don’t Underestimate the Personal Connection. Everything else aside, if you don’t click with the family, it’s not going to be the right match. Consider your connection and if spending time together feels natural or forced.
  30. Talk About House Rules. What are the house rules, especially as they pertain to the nanny? Will the live-in nanny have a curfew? Are the children allowed to have friends over? Consider what the house rules are and how they will affect you.
  31. Negotiate a Written Contract. Having a mutually agreeable written contract ensure that both the nannies and parents are on the same page with regards to expectations, duties and responsibilities.
  32. Keep the Lines of Communication Open. From the get go, strive to create an environment of open and honest communication. During the interview process, set the stage for solid communication.
  33. Watch for Red Flags.  Look for warning signs that something isn’t right. Does the family refuse to provide references? Have they gone through a string of nannies? Do they talk negatively about their past household help? These can be signs of potential problems.
  34. Set Boundaries. From the get go, establish professional boundaries. While it’s fine to say you went out with friends on Friday night, resist the urge to divulge the details of your evening.
  35. Gauge Your Comfort Level. How do you feel around the family? How do you feel in their home? For a nanny to work successfully, she must feel comfortable around the family and in their home.
  36. Evaluate Your Work Environment. Is the house super organized or overflowing with clutter? If you’re a neat freak and the family is on the sloppy side, you may become easily frustrated and distracted by your work environment.
  37. Consider Compatibility. Are you and the parents compatible? Do you share similar discipline styles? Do you laugh at the same jokes? Are you on the same wavelength when it comes to safety? Being compatible is essential!
  38. Ask About Spirituality. If you’re a person of faith, and even if you’re not, you’re going to want to know if you’ll be expected to play a role in fostering the children’s spiritual development. Accepting an assignment to only learn later you’re expected to help out with the church youth group could be problematic for some nannies.
  39. Figure Out How Much Flexibility is Required. Do the parents have jobs that require them to be super flexible? If they do, you’ll need to be flexible too. Ask how often they run late at work or how much notice they can typically give for schedule changes. Be sure you’re comfortable with the level of flexibility required.
  40. Gauge Commitment Level. Are you signing up to be their nanny for a year or for their child’s childhood? Consider if you’re looking for a long-term placement and if the family is interested in having one.
  41. Ask About Non Childcare Related Tasks. Nannies should strive to make a well informed employment decision. It’s essential for nannies to ask if there are non-childcare related job duties, such as checking the mail, grocery shopping or taking the family pet to the vet. It’s important to know what you’re getting into and that comfortable with the required tasks.
  42. Talk About the Do’s and Don’ts. When it comes to your interaction with the children and your daily workday, what are the do’s and don’ts? You’ll want to know if you have to ask for permission before every car ride or if you’re free to come and go as you please.
  43. Get the Scoop on Spending Money. Are the parents willing to provide money for admission to museums and zoos, an occasional lunch out or purchasing craft supplies? You’ll want to know if you’re able to do the things you typically enjoy doing with the children in your care.
  44. Discuss Transportation of the Children. Whether you require the family to provide a vehicle to transport the children in or you’ll be transporting the children in your car and getting reimbursed, it’s essential to look for a family that can meet your work transportation needs.
  45. Talk About Taxes. Most professional nannies refuse to accept posts where their employer’s don’t pay on the books. You’ll want to be sure to determine if they plan on being compliant with labor and tax laws. If they’re not, you may want to keep looking.
  46. Take Inventory of Your Special Skills and Experience. Can you teach a foreign language? Do you have experience caring for multiples or high needs children? If so, look for families who would truly benefit from your specialized skills and experience.
  47. Put Together a Portfolio. Having an up-to-date nanny portfolio not only makes you look professional, it allows you to provide an overview of your nanny career. In addition to including a letter and cover letter, you’ll want to include sample schedules, curriculum plans and photos of you in action. If a family seems super excited about what you’re presenting, chances are they’ll be excited for you to do the same things with their children.
  48. Carefully Evaluate the Job Description. Carefully read and review the job description the parents are providing. Are there any warning flags? Does it seem realistic? Are they looking for a nanny or housekeeper? Look for job descriptions that indicate the parents are looking for what you’re offering.
  49. Consider the Parents Communication Style. Do the parents talk a lot? Are they quiet? Do they yell? Do they prefer to email or text? Consider how they communicate and be sure it’s a style your comfortable with.
  50. Listen to Your Gut. Above all, if a job doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right. Don’t forge an employment relationship. Instead keeping searching. There’s a right family and job for every nanny.