How to find a nanny

June 25, 2013

Finding the right person to entrust your children with is possibly one of the most difficult decisions you can make.  When you start the childcare search, there are so many options to explore: day care, nannies, au pairs and more.  I remember the hours I spent when I was a new mom searching for nannies online and interviewing nannies before I had to return to work.  Here are some tips to help make sure you find a great nanny for your family.

Make a list of important criteria

Before you start your nanny search, it is a good idea to write a formal job description for the nanny.  This will help you to define what is important to you in a nanny and will serve as a reference for potential nannies to know what is expected of them.  I suggest you include the following topics:

  • Schedule:  What time will work start and end on which days.  Is this consistent week to week or do you need someone who is open to a more flexible schedule? Do you want a live-out or live-in nanny or au pair?  If you are considering an au pair or live-in nanny, read more about the differences between au pairs and nannies.
  • Experience and certifications: Are you looking for a nanny with specific experience with infants, twins, special needs or other types of experience?  Do you prefer someone who is CPR and First Aid certified?
  • Driving: Do you require someone with a driver’s license and clean driving record?
  • Criminal background check: Do you require your potential nanny to undergo a criminal background check?
  • Other skills: Do you want someone who speaks another language?  Do you want someone who is a good swimmer?  Think about the activities you want your child(ren) to engage in, and consider including other skill sets you would like your nanny to have.
  • Responsibilities:  Outline the main responsibilities your nanny will have.  Do you expect her to do some housekeeping?  Clearly define your expectations of the role.

Search for nanny candidates

There are several ways you can begin your nanny search.  You can choose one of these methods or try several and see which works best for you.

  • Find a nanny online:  There are many online resources to help you find a nanny.  Look for local parenting forums or groups where you can often get a personal reference from a family in your area.  Or sign up for one of the subscription nanny job posting services like urbansitter.com which allows you to browse nannies in your area and get recommendations through your friends on facebook.   These services will generally run between $20-$80 per month and offer added benefits like background checks.
  • Talk to friends, family and neighbors: This is the old fashioned approach, but it has the benefit of getting referrals from people who know you and your family well.
  • Post your job:  go to your local library or community center, or contact area colleges and universities and post a flyer with your job and contact information.
  • Use a nanny service: This is the most expensive option, but will offer you the most guidance and support.  Nanny services may be especially helpful for finding a live-in nanny, or if you have very specific needs or very limited time to interview and screen nannies yourself.  Agencies will advertise positions, interview and screen candidates including running background checks and checking references, and help negotiate the offer.  You will generally pay between $2,000-$7,000 for this service, or a percent of the nanny’s salary.  However, they will usually also help you find a replacement if your first hire doesn’t work out.  If you are considering hosting an au pair instead of a live-in nanny, you will need to work with an au pair agency.  Learn more about how to find an au pair.

Interview and screen nannies

Before you meet any nannies in person or talk over the phone, make a list of interview questions to help you determine if the nanny is a good fit for your family.  Here are some suggestions for unique nanny interview questions.   Once you have found a nanny you like, be sure to check her references.  You may also want to hire her to babysit for a couple of hours as a trial run before you offer her the job.  That way you can see how your child or children respond to her before you make your final decision.

Hire a nanny

Once you have found a nanny you like who fits all of your requirements and agrees to the listed responsibilities, you will need to offer her the job.  Many families draw up a formal agreement or contract that clearly states the terms of the job and the compensation as well as outlines other benefits such as transportation reimbursement, sick days, vacation time and insurance.

What are your best tips for finding a nanny?  

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