Online nanny job sites have become a popular way for nannies to find jobs and for parents to find nannies. While most of the people on those job sites are legitimately searching for an employment arrangement, there’s always the chance, no matter how slight, that a predator has slipped through the cracks and found his way into the family pool. You can protect yourself from these people by taking the following simple precautionary steps during your next nanny job search.
Be cautious of a parent who insists on gaining personal information early in the process. There’s no reason a family needs your address, birthdate, Social Security Number or any other sensitive information before they hire you or present you with a written job offer contingent on a background check. If a parent is pushing you to share personal information that isn’t relative to evaluating you as a nanny, think carefully before moving forward.
Initiate the first phone call and block your phone number when calling parents. When it’s time for the first phone interview, ask the parent for his number and block your number before making the call. At some point, it will be necessary for the parent to have your phone number. However in the beginning, you can arrange a time to chat so you can protect your privacy until you’ve had a chance to talk with the parent and make an initial assessment.
Verify a parent’s employment before meeting with him. One of the simplest ways to verify a parent is who he claims to be is through his employer. If the parent is a lawyer, doctor, banker or other professional it’s a pretty easy process. Rather than simply asking for his direct cell phone number, look up his company’s phone number online and contact him through the main switchboard. Spend some time on the website reading his professional profile and viewing company photos he’s featured in. Confirming his employment doesn’t confirm he’s a safe person, but it does confirm he’s being honest about his name, profession, title and who he works for.
Meet at a public location for the first interview. The first time you meet a family, pick a public place that’s located in a populated, busy area. A favorite coffee shop or deli can offer comfortable seating, enough space for private conversations, and an informal setting that puts everyone at ease.
Make sure you tell a friend where you’re going and who you’re meeting. Even though you’re meeting in a public place, make sure to tell a good friend where you’re going, when you expect to return and who you’ll be meeting. Leave the family’s contact information with her and any details they’ve given you about their family. Check in with her when the interview is over to let her know everything went as planned.
Buy your own beverages or make sure you get it directly from the counter person. It’s hard to imagine that someone would slip a drug into your coffee or juice, but it can happen. A spiked drink won’t make you immediately pass out. It will make you disorientated, confused and easier to control. This allows your attacker to move you from the public meeting place to his car or another vehicle. An easy solution is to arrive a little early and get settled in with your favorite drink.
Openly talk about the safety precautions you’re taking. Predators are online looking for an easy way to find and lure in their next victim. By being aware of the possible risks of online sites and staying proactive throughout your job search, you’re putting predators on notice that you’re doing everything possible to keep yourself safe.
Follow your instincts. If a person or situation doesn’t feel right, listen to your instincts. Don’t worry about hurting the person’s feelings or losing the job opportunity. Your personal safely should always be your number one priority. If a parent is asking you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, politely yet firmly say no.
Report any suspicious behavior. Although you can’t file a complaint with an online job site based on a feeling alone, you can report any parent that acts inappropriately or asks you to do something that puts you in an unsafe situation. Keep the language of your report as objective as possible, focus on the parent’s behavior not your feelings about him, and include as many details as you have. Your action could save another nanny from danger.
Online job sites are a legitimate avenue for searching for a nanny position. Rarely is there a case of a predicator posing as a parent and victimizing a nanny. However, this is a case of it’s better to be safe than sorry. By taking a few simple precautions, you can take advantage of all a nanny job site offers and stay safe throughout the job search process.