Things haven't been looking so good for the affluent, especially the most powerful and wealthy investors who've incurred massive losses caused by Bernard Madoff's giant Ponzi scheme. And don't forget the flood of reports that Wall Street banks and other firms are eliminating tens of thousands of jobs. Last week, I wrote about how dual-career, upper-class couples who've been affected by the economic downturn are increasingly tightening their budgets and cutting back on household operating costs, which may include the nanny. U.S. News asked Stephanie Felzenberg, editor of the Best Nanny Newsletter, to share her best advice for nannies who want to market themselves and stand out from the pack:
1. Standout Résumé. The résumé remains the most important way for nanny candidates to market themselves. To stand out among a pile of others, caregivers should include a photo of themselves on their résumé. Including a photo playing or posing with children will help parents take notice. The résumé should be printed on high-quality paper. Nanny candidates should spell check and proofread the résumé to make sure the grammar is perfect and the meaning is clear.
2. Nanny Portfolio. Nanny portfolios can be made in a scrapbook, photo album, or a three-ring binder and should include any information a nanny candidate would like to share with parents. The portfolio should include a current résumé, letters of reference, copies of degrees, and a listing of classes taken, workshops attended, or awards received. Also include a current CPR and first aid certification, a Social Security card, and a driver's license. Photos of activities and projects done with children are a great way for caregivers to show future employers their creativity and enthusiasm for their job.
3. Proof to Work Legally. Parents who do not pay their domestic employees legally are risking their professional careers and licenses. Nannies should have identification and paperwork proving they can work legally in the United States always available for potential employers and nanny referral agency staff. Job applicants should carry their current driver's license, Social Security card, or green card when applying for jobs.
4. Drive. Nannies who have a current driver's license, are willing to drive, and have a clean driving record have an advantage in landing nanny positions over caregivers who cannot drive. Employees who drive can help parents tremendously by taking children to activities and doctor visits and can run errands to the dry cleaners, post office, or grocery store.
5. References. Nothing is more important to landing a great nanny job than great references. Caregivers should ask former employers, parents, teachers, or neighbors to write letters of reference.
6. Remain Competitive. Job seekers should keep their salary requirements reasonable. They should speak with all local nanny placement agencies to determine the going rate where they hope to work. Caregivers should be flexible and professional when asking for salary and benefits.
7. Evaluations. Nannies should have their employers complete a written nanny evaluation every three to six months to include in their portfolios.
8. Contact Nanny Agencies. Reputable nanny placement agencies are nanny candidates' best advocates. Agency staff know how to market nannies. One way to find a good nanny placement agency is by asking other nannies and families which agencies they have used.
9. Nanny Websites. Sign up with nanny employment websites.
10. CPR and First Aid. When working with children, caregivers should take a CPR and first aid course. Nanny candidates should be CPR- and first aid-certified or renew their certification. If the nanny can swim well or has lifeguard certification, even better.
11. Education. Having earned a bachelor's degree or higher is very impressive to parents. Job seekers should let parents know the amount of time and effort they have devoted to earning a degree. Nannies should be sure to list scholarships or awards they have earned.
12. Network. Child-care providers wanting to find nanny jobs should tell anyone who will listen that they are searching for a new nanny position. Some great jobs are found by word of mouth.
13. Use Hobbies to Their Advantage. Caregivers who are strong swimmers or gifted musicians can use these skills to their advantage. Perhaps the parents will pay them extra for swimming or piano lessons for their children.
14. Great Interview Skills. Nanny candidates should dress cleanly, neatly, and conservatively for job interviews. To be considered for the position, they must arrive on time, be polite, and carry with them their résumés, portfolios, and any identification needed to prove they can legally drive and work in the United States when meeting potential employers.