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Why Nannies Should Ask Parents for References

2017 March 9

It’s only natural for a parent to ask a nanny for their past references and recommendations. They are, after all, entrusting the happiness, health and safety of their children to a complete stranger.

Why then, shouldn’t this also apply to nannies? Nannies, particularly live-in nannies, put their own livelihood and safety into the hands of the family they are becoming a part of and so common sense would suggest that a nanny should also obtain references from the parent(s) so that they are fully aware of the professional and personal nature of their new employer(s).

That’s why we’ve put together our top tips to help ensure that you only work with trustworthy, reliable employers:

1. Be Natural – It’s normal to feel reluctant when it comes to asking your potential employer for references. After all, you’re the one trying to get the job. The best thing to do is to make it seem like a natural part of the process, which is exactly what it should be.

If during an interview, the employer asks for your references, let them know that it’s no problem but also ask if they have any references or contact information from their previous nannies or caregivers that they can pass on to you.

If they’re surprised by the request, just mention that it’s part of your process and will help you to understand how things run, so you can be fully prepared for the role, which will benefit everyone.

First-time parents or parents who haven’t hired a nanny before won’t have past references, so you could instead ask for a character reference. This is a reference provided by someone who knows them in a professional capacity (i.e. not related to them) such as a boss, co-worker, school teacher etc who can provide a short statement about their character.

2. Use A Nanny Agency – If you’re not comfortable negotiating with parents and discussing details like pay and hours, or asking for references, your best option would be to go through a nanny agency.

A nanny agency will discuss all of this with you to see what you’re looking for, they’ll vet potential families and will continue to support you throughout your employment so that all you have to worry about is doing your job.

3. Communicate in Writing – If you prefer to handle things yourself and don’t want to use a nanny agency but you’re still nervous of broaching this, or any other subject with your potential employer, the final option would be to put it in writing.

Include a questionnaire or additional section as part of your application that requests previous references/character references from the parent(s). You can then check the references that they provide whilst they are checking yours and reviewing your application.

If they don’t supply any references, consider this a potential warning or red flag and follow up with additional questions. Use their lack of response as an opportunity to ask them about their previous nannies. Ask them why the previous nanny left the position or if there were any problems.

If they seem reluctant to answer, explain to them that knowing more about the situation with the last nanny will help them to be prepared for the role and knowing the circumstances of how the nanny left will help you get off on the right foot with the child/children.

What do you think about whether nannies should ask parents for references? Do you do this already? Share your thoughts and advice with us and other nannies in the comments below or on Twitter.

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