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10 Things You Should Do Before Your First Nanny Job

December 19, 2012

Becoming a nanny is an exciting career choice, however it’s also a hard field to break into. Here are some tips to make sure you’re ready to tackle landing and succeeding at your first nanny job.

  1. Become CPR/first aid certified. You can take this basic training through the American Heart Association, The Red Cross, your local hospital or other community outreach programs. There are also online programs available, but this is the type of training you should take in person. An average class can last between 4 and 6 hours and will give you a solid understanding of how to help a child in an emergency.
  2. Get basic child development training. To be a quality childcare provider, you need to have a basic understanding of child development. This will help you design a well-rounded day, develop a positive and effective discipline approach, plan fun and educational activities, and understand how to best support the children you care for. There are many ways to get this basic training. Most resource and referral agencies offer a core competency educational program and many community colleges offer basic certification programs.
  3. Round out your childcare experience. To qualify for the widest number of jobs, you need to have at least 1 to 3 years of recent and relevant childcare experience. It’s helpful if you’ve worked with different age groups and with 2 or 3 children at a time. If you have gaps in your childcare experience, you can fill them in a number of ways. You can find babysitting jobs through online sites or classifieds, you can work for a temp nanny agency providing sitting, back-up, hotel or event care, or you can work in a formal childcare setting like a daycare or preschool.
  4. Learn about the unique role of a nanny. Being a nanny is different than any other childcare job. The only way to really understand what you need to do the job well is to learn from other nannies. There are lots of Google and Yahoo discussion groups, Facebook groups and local nanny support groups that connect you with other nannies. These are perfect places to ask questions, get support and learn about the unique challenges that come with being a nanny.
  5. Get letters of reference. Every nanny placement agency and parent you apply with will require letters of reference from past childcare jobs. The best time to get a letter of reference is while you’re still working in the job or soon after you’ve left so that all the ways you’ve contributed to the position are still fresh in the mind of the parent or supervisor. If you don’t have a letter of reference for a past childcare job, now is the perfect time to ask for it.
  6. Write your resume. Having a well-written resume that outlines your work history, your childcare experience, your education and any special skills you have is a must. There are lots of different formats that are acceptable. Make sure you check your resume for accuracy, spelling, grammar and formatting.
  7. Decide what you’re looking for in your first job. Every nanny job and every nanny employer is different. Make sure that you have a clear picture of what you’re looking for before you start your search. Think about the ages you want to work with, the number of children you’re comfortable with, the responsibilities you’re willing to take on, the type of household you’d like to work in and the kind of parents you want to work for.
  8. Research the resources in the area you want to work in. Parents appreciate a nanny who knows about the kid friendly offerings in the local community. Get to know the playgrounds, fountain parks, story times and classes in the area you want to work. This will help you win parents over and also help you plan fun outings once you’re on the job.
  9. Connect with local nannies. Nannies don’t have co-workers to turn to for some adult conversation to break up the day, to ask for advice on a work problem, or to get support from. You can create your own network by connecting with other nannies in your area. Your nanny network will be a big help to you as a caregiver and will give you and your charge friends for field trips, play dates and craft parties.
  10. Join the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC is the largest childcare organization around. Their professional journals and online site offers lots of high quality resources that will increase your understanding of child development, give you creative ideas to fill your days and keep you up-to-date on the latest childcare research.

Your first nanny position will bring you lots of unique joys and challenges. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with a family in a meaningful way while having a lot of fun. Being a nanny is a great job choice for those who have a genuine love for children and a true interest in caring for them.


One Response to 10 Things You Should Do Before Your First Nanny Job

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You’ve put together some fantastic advice in this post! As you say: your very first job as a nanny may seem daunting at first, and there will be a lot of things to take in and learn from – but ultimately it will be incredibly rewarding and you’ll learn life-long skills.

Best wishes, Alex