Should I use a Nanny Placement Agency

I’m often blown away by how many times I see my clients “freeze up” as they approach the process of finding a nanny.  Often, the first question is, “should I hire a nanny placement agency?” or “what’s the best way to find a nanny agency in New York?”  Some of my clients even ask me “which is the best nanny agency in NYC?”

It’s pretty often that I have to remind these fantastic parents that finding a nanny is an important decision (not one left to simply asking your friend’s nanny if they have any recommendations, or choosing the first nanny agency you find in Google) and one that will require some legwork if you want to make the ideal match.  I also have to remind my clients that I refer to the nanny business as the “wild west” – this isn’t your typical interview process.  Great nannies come in all shapes and sizes and very often, the best caregivers are horrible interviewers with terrible resumes!

So whether you want to perform the search on your own or if you’re looking to find the best nanny agency, I’ve compiled these 6 simple steps to help guide you as you plot your path to the perfect nanny for your children.

Step 1: Figure out what you really need!  I call this the “Family Needs Assessment” and it asks the parents to identify all the “musts” for this position – things like “Do I want a live in nanny or Is a live-out nanny more appropriate for me,” ability to drive, ability to swim, hours they can work, the budget you have, other skills that you will require in your nanny.  If you skip this step, the next step will involve a lot of wasted time because you’ll be interviewing people that aren’t a perfect match. Any of the premier NYC Nanny agencies “worth their salt” should have their own equivalent of this document/process.

Tammy Family Needs

Step 2: generate some interest to start seeing “volume.”  I recommend placing an ad online or browsing the online nanny ads.  There are tons of these online nanny boards (www.care.com, www.sittercity.com, www.gonannies.com, www.nannies4hire.com – to name a few).  You can also post ads on Mommy boards or neighborhood boards, ask friends, family, neighbors or other nannies for referrals.  You want to get the process of seeing what’s out there started.

Step 3: Once you have names, begin with a screening call or email to make sure that the caregiver matches your basic criteria outlined in step 1 (hours available, experience, qualifications, references you can speak with).   These calls should be only about 10 minutes long – they’re just to narrow down your long list to the few who have all the requisite skills and capabilities.

Step 4: Schedule some nanny interviews (I try to schedule multiple on the same day so my clients can compare and contrast lots of candidates) for those whose qualifications and background match your needs outlined in Step 1.  Keep an open mind though…as I’ve said before, sometimes the best nannies get shy during interviews.  Get her to talk about her experiences that were similar to your family’s circumstances.  See if she can provide you with at least 1 reference from a full-time nanny job that you can call and speak with.

Step 5: After the interviews, call and speak with the nanny’s references.  Ask open-ended questions instead of “yes” or “no” questions.  Ask questions that are relevant to your situation and their opinion on how the nanny would handle your specific situation.

Tammy Reference Question

Step 6: If the references pan out, schedule at least 2 trials with the nanny in your home.  Trials are paid to compensate the nanny for her time.  Have each candidate that you like do trials until you have chosen the candidate to whom you wish to make a job offer.

At this point, you will hopefully be down to 2-3 nannies that you think are great and who are ideal matches for your specific needs.  It then comes down to “fit” and how your kids got along with each of them.

Happy searching!

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