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.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Janice St.Clair on April 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Reading is a passion of mine, and I bring that to my job. I wear tshirts with classic children’s picture-book characters promoting reading (see wondershirts.com for examples), and I spend some of every day reading to children in my care, regardless of age.

    I think that no baby is too young to begin learning that it is pleasurable to be held in a lap and read to. Parents light up when I say that in interviews. They want their children to be exposed to books, but also to associate with books the joy and love of reading that I bring.


  2. Posted by Janice St.Clair on April 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    My employer once told me that one of the parts of my portfolio particularly made her want me as her school-age children’s nanny…my long history of volunteerism. They want their children to be community-service-minded, and wanted them to have my example to follow.


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