Archive for the ‘Nanny Job Search’ Category

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.

Finding Employers That Match Your Caregiving Approach

employersIt’s crucial that you and your employer share a common (not identical) caregiving philosophy. Nannies can and often do change aspects of their caregiving style to meet their employer’s preferences. (All organic, not a problem. Want your child to wear a hat every time she’s outside? Will do.)

However, you cannot comfortably change your core belief system and related responses simply because they’re in opposition with the parents’ beliefs. (Want me to actually DO your child’s homework for her? Think I should just ignore it when your seven year old berates me for asking him to pick up after himself because addressing it will only add fuel to the fire?? You believe beating up her little brother is a natural part of sibling rivalry and toughens up the little guy???)

If you take a job that requires you to act against your core beliefs, you’ll quickly become resentful and frustrated and most likely find yourself once again looking for a new job. If you want to work for someone that will support and appreciate your work as a nanny, you must work for someone that supports and appreciates your caregiving philosophy.

So how do you know how well you’ll match up with a prospective employer?  Through in-depth interviewing and referencing. Remember, the screening process goes both ways. The family screens you and you screen the family.

I suggest that every interview cover:

  • the overall environment. What kind of environment do the parents what their children to be raised in? Relaxed or more formal?  Focused on education or learning through life experiences? What values are most important and how do they translate into everyday life?
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  • activities and scheduling. Are they home bodies or completely overscheduled? Where do school and sports fit into their priority list? How much freedom does the nanny have in planning the day?

 

  • discipline/guidance. From expectations to communication style, it’s key to not only understand what the parents do but why they do it. The why will help you understand how the parents act in real world situations, how they’ll adapt as their children get older and how well your attitudes and approaches will fit in.

 

  • age group specific questions. Infant, toddler, preschool and school age; each stage is very different and requires a conversation centered around that age. From when the parents think a child should give up the pacifier to sleep schedules and routines to attitudes about independence, choices and behavior.

Of course, the questions you ask during the interview should be tailored to the family. Asking the right questions, and right follow-up questions is a huge step towards finding a family that shares your caregiving philosophy.

Looking for more information?  Check out all our job search e-guides and webinars including How to Interview and Reference a Family Like a Pro.  There’s a live webinar on this topic scheduled for Sunday, April 10th at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific. 

Want to get future blog posts delivered to your inbox?  Subscribe above.

New line-up of Nanny Webinars

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AllAboutNannyCare.com has updated it’s webinar schedule.

I’m offering the most popular topics including:

  • “Can We Talk?” ~ Real World Strategies for Talking About Tough Topics
    Wednesday, March 23rd at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • The Results Driven Job Search
    Thursday, March 24th at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Developing an EXTRA–Ordinary Search Portfolio
    Sunday, March 27th at 7:30 PM Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Top Notch Interviewing Skills
    Sunday, April 3rd at 7:30pm Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific
  • Interviewing and Referencing a Family Like a Pro
    Sunday, April 10th at 7:30pm Eastern / 4:30 PM Pacific

Can’t make the date listed?  Don’t worry, save your space and you’ll receive info on the webinar replay within 24 hours of the live event. 

These “learn today, use tomorrow” webinars offer caregivers a convenient and cost effective way to get expert help in finding, landing and keeping a great nanny job and building a successful nanny / parent relationship.  Each comes with a detailed guide and unlimited replays. 

Know of someone who might benefit from one of these webinars?  Please pass the information along through email, facebook or twitter.  I appreciate your help in getting the word out.

Agencies and support groups, I’m offering a multi seat option that allows you to offer the webinar to all your nanny clients or members for one super low price.  Click on the register now button for pricing or contact me for more information.  It’s a great way to offer a valuable benefit to your nannies for just a few bucks.

If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know!

Why Should I Hire You?

In essence, every interview is an opportunity to tell potential employers why they should hire YOU over all the other caregivers they have to choose from. How?  Here are some tips.

1. Know What You Have to Offer
You don’t have to go in shouting how wonderful you are. Talk about what you’re passionate about, what’s important to you, what you love and your expertise will shine through.

2. Remove All Disclaimers
Many people talk about their strengths then quickly add a statement that diminishes or dismisses the claim.   EXAMPLE “I’m really creative…I’m not an art teacher or anything but I love crafts.”  We often do this without even being aware of it. Over the years these disclaimers have become a part of our language. Listen to yourself, what you say out loud and inside your head, and actively eliminate any disclaimers you add on.

3. Use Examples
Using examples helps in two very important ways. First, it helps create a mental and emotional picture for parents. Second, past experience is a great predictor of future success.

4. Highlight Benefits
During any interview, the question on every employer’s mind is “How can this person help me?” It’s your job to tell them!

5. Learn It!
Script your answers out and then practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. You must become so familiar and comfortable with your answers that you can quickly adapt them to fit whatever interview questions come up.

What more interviewing tips?  Check out our Ready, Set, You’re Hired! e-book

So What Exactly Is a Search Portfolio?

When talking about a nanny portfolio, many people envision a scrapbook like portfolio they take to face-to-face interviews.  Those portfolios are a great addition to the personal interview but they don’t help you land the interview or set the stage for getting the job. A search portfolio will.

A job search portfolio is one of the most effective, yet one of the most overlooked, tools for setting yourself apart from the competition during a job search. A first-rate portfolio is more than a collection of documents; it’s a dynamic representation of who you are personally and professionally.

It includes compelling versions of..
your resume, basic information that gives prospective employers a streamlined overview of your education, experience and other relevant information.
your personal narrative, the “who I am and why you should hire me” section.
position details sheets, outlining what exactly you did on each job.
plus reference letters and a picture page. 

The final product, your job search portfolio, will directly reflect the work you put into it. While the process may not always be fun (and in some phases downright hard), the end result will be well worth your effort. Having a professional portfolio will put you ahead of the competition and on your way to finding the job you want with the salary and benefit package you deserve.

To learn how to create your search portfolio check out our Ready, Set, You’re Hired! e-book.

Your Portfolio as a Screening Tool

When looking for a job, your goal is to get your search portfolio seen by as many eyes as possible.  This ‘no stone unturned” approach gives you the best chance of landing a great job.  (Of course you want to make sure you protect your reference contact information.)

But that doesn’t mean you want every agency and family that sees your portfolio contacting you.  In fact, that’s the last thing you want.  Like most things in life, you’re aiming for quality over quantity.  You only want to hear from the agencies and families that truly offer what you’re looking for and need what you provide.  This allows you to skip over non-compatible positions and invest your time and energy into those that have a real chance of being your next great job. 

So make sure your portfolio not only sells you but subtly details the type of job you’re looking for  Talk about the environments you work best in, the type of families you connect with, the job factors you most value.  If written well, your portfolio will say “skip me” to the wrong families and “we’re a great match” to the right ones.

Nanny Job Search Tips Every Monday

Beginning today, every Monday I’ll post a quick tip to help in your job search.

Sign up for an email subscription to the blog (box on the right) to stay up-to-date.

If you have a tip to share, a question to ask or a problem you’re stumped with, email me at Lora@AllAboutNannyCare.com.   

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