Office Hours Q and A

I’ve gotten several emails and calls this week from nannies wanting advice on communicating with their family or questions about their job search. I haven’t had time to reach out to each person individually so I’m going to try something new. “Office hours”. I’m going to set up a webinar like conference call and open it up to anyone and everyone who has a question I might be able to help with. It will feature a conference call and chat. You can ask questions through the chat but I’ll be answering using the phone. Remember, you can hear through your computer. The first one will be this Saturday, April 9th at 9 AM Pacific, noon Eastern. I have no idea if anyone will show up but I’ll try! This is a very informal Q and A so there won’t be any handouts or slide shows. If this sounds like a good idea to you, even if you can’t make it Saturday, let me know.

Title: office hours
Time: Saturday, April 9th at 9:00am Pacific
Listening method: Phone + Web Simulcast
To attend, visit:
Phone Number: (206) 701-8388
Pin Code: 600622#

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

The number of children abused in this country is staggering.  And those numbers reflect abuse as defined below.  That’s a pretty high bar.   Imagine all the kids who suffer lesser but still harmful and debilitating abuse and neglect.  I encourage each and every person to do something in the coming months to help a child at risk.  It could be volunteering an afternoon at a fundraiser, it could be providing support and friendship to a struggling parent, it could be becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.  Just do something.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2009, 3.3 million reports of suspected abuse were made to Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies involving about 6 million children. Of those screened for investigation, about one-quarter or 693,174 children were found to be victims of child abuse. About 70,000 additional children were found to be the victim of abuse more than once.

  • More than 1,676 children died as a result of child abuse in 2009.
  • 80 percent of children who died were younger than age 4.

What is child abuse?

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the federal law that sets guidelines for states and allocates funding to both investigate and prevent child abuse, defines child abuse and neglect at a minimum as:

Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

Each state sets its own definitions for child abuse and neglect as well as the evidence necessary to substantiate child abuse claims.

What types of abuse do children suffer?

  • More than 75 percent suffered neglect
  • More than 15 percent suffered physical abuse
  • About 9.5 percent suffered sexual abuse; and
  • About 7.6 percent suffered psychological abuse

What federal efforts are made to reduce child abuse?

Community-based grants are offered through several federal programs to help states develop, operate, expand, and enhance community-based, prevention-focused programs and activities designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. More than 3 million children received preventive services through 44 states in 2009.

Information provided by Child Care Aware.

What Are Your Personal Strengths?

Before you begin putting your search portfolio together, before you apply to any agencies or online job sites, before you begin any other part of your job search you must have a clear and comprehensive understanding of what you bring to the table.   If you don’t know and can’t easily convey why an agency should work with you or why a parent should hire you, how successful do you think you’ll really be in finding a great job? 

When I coach nannies in job search skills, I have them focus on five areas: 

  • personal strengths
  • professional strengths
  • childcare challenges
  • caregiving philosophy
  • possible stumbling blocks

In this post I’ll talk about personal strengths and will cover the other areas in the next few weeks.  (Remember each Monday I feature a job search tip.)

Parents look for caregivers that they like, that they trust, that they connect with. While experience and education count, your personal and professional strengths count more. Ultimately nannies get hired because of who they are, not because of what’s on their resume.

So what are your personal strengths?  I suggest you sit down and list at least 15 to 20.  Yes, you have that many.  If getting started is hard, ask a friend.  I guarantee a friend will be able to jumpstart the list without any effort.

Now for each strength, list the possible benefits to potential employers. 

So if one of your personal strengths is being a life long learner, the possible benefits might be you:

  • bring a sense of wonder and curiosity to everyday experiences
  • instill a love of learning that focuses on the knowledge and understanding gained, not simply finishing the assignment or getting the grade

If another strength is being highly organized, the possible benefits might be you:

  • easily manage  the chaos and mess that often comes with kids
  • ensure none of the small but important details of running a household falls between the cracks
  • create a serene, calm environment in a hectic world

When asked about personal strengths caregivers often list things specific to being a great nanny rather than specific to being a great person.  I think so many nannies define themselves by the work they do, sometimes  it’s hard to separate the two.  Yes, you want to frame your personal strengths in terms of being a nanny but think of strengths you bring to every aspect of your life, not just nanny care. 

Why make the distinction between personal and professional strengths?  Because agencies and parents want (need) to connect with you as a person, not just as a nanny.  It’s the same reason you had to take math, history, literature, and all those other college courses that had nothing to do with your major.  The goal is to be a well-rounded person. 

And to all the nannies out there who ask me how to land those high-end jobs, listen up.  Many of the intangible characteristics parents are looking for come from personal, not professional, strengths.  So this is a step you don’t want to skip.

I’d love to hear what your personal strengths are and their possible benefits to employers.  And if you feel this information is helpful, please share it using the button below.

Reference Letters: Key to a Great Search Portfolio

Reference letters are a key part of your search portfolio. They give your portfolio a personal feel and provide emotional appeal. Parents rely heavily on the opinions of those that know you so include as many reference letters as you have. You can include letters from…

  • past and present employers
  • past and present coworkers in childcare positions (e.g. daycares, preschools)
  • friends and relatives of past and present employers
  • neighbors, play date companions, and nanny friends that have seen you interact with children
  • relatives whose career or volunteer work make them respected members of their community (e.g. your aunt who is a principal at a local high school, your cousin who is head of the local Red Cross chapter)
  • volunteer peers or supervisors
  • leadership of local support group
  • teachers, professors, guidance counselors
  • priest, pastor

If at all possible, you should have a reference letter from each childcare position. If a letter isn’t possible, try to include a performance review or a letter from someone that has firsthand knowledge of your performance in the position (e.g. mom or caregiver in your regular playgroup, neighbor who often sees you outside, coworker).

Also, contact others (e.g. pastors, teachers, volunteer supervisors) that hold you in high esteem. Their opinions of you as a person, even if they’ve never seen you work as a caregiver, are important and help round out the picture you present to parents.

And don’t forget colleagues (e.g. nanny friends, co-teachers) and family members. Most job seekers don’t include letters from friends and family. Since this type of reference is so obviously biased, they feel the letter will carry little if any weight. However, the right kind of friend or family member (e.g. a nanny support group leader, an aunt that taught for 30 years) can have a huge impact on a potential employer.

How far back should your reference letters go? That depends upon how many total letters you have. If you have so many reference letters that it makes your portfolio too long (good for you!), include the most recent letters then create a “What References Are Saying About YOUR NAME” page that features the best quotes from the older letters. Make sure to have those letter available in your supporting documentation file.

Remember to check out our Nanny Training Library for more job search resources.

Bet You Can’t Beat This Nanny’s Skill Set

nanny auction

A group of male and female graduate nannies will be auctioned off in Beijing.  Yes, I said auctioned off.  :)   One nanny says she loves housework and singing, and knows how to do family-style massage and fabric decorating. She could also serve as an English tutor and work for foreign households as she speaks fluent English.     You’ve got to admit, it’s one way to get a job.

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