Nanny references are a key part of presenting a picture to families of what you can offer when searching for a nanny job. They ideally come in two forms – written letters of recommendation, and contactable referees who can speak to a prospective employer on the phone. Everyone provides nanny references differently, but this blog post covers what I think is the ideal way for nannies to navigate each of the two forms of references.
Written Letters of Recommendation
I absolutely ADORE my reference letters. (I’ve even pulled some of my testimonials from them, including one dating back to the early 2000s!) I feel like they each present a unique perspective to the type of service I provided and relationship I had with each family. In order to make the best use of these documents, I suggest the following steps:
- Ask employers for a letter of recommendation. This might be towards the end of a position, but I also suggest a clause in your work agreement asking for a letter to be provided at the end of each year of employment. I’ve heard of many situations where a nanny/family relationship sours, and sometimes parents who are upset or angry that a nanny is leaving are not willing to provide an appropriate reference.
- Send a few letters of recommendation (without contact details) with your application. Along with your cover letter and resume, these documents provide a picture of what you are like as a nanny and person. I like to choose letters from families that have similar ages or needs to the family I am applying to work for.
Referee Contact Information
As much as it can feel like a nuisance to allow people to call your old employers, it’s important for nanny references to be verified verbally. The question is, when is it appropriate for the references to be contacted, and how often? Most happy past employers say they are willing to be contacted whenever needed, but as nannies we often don’t want to impose on them too much. So:
- Contact information should not be included in the resume that you send when you apply for jobs. (‘References available on request’ is the standard and acceptable thing to include there!) I only want people calling my nanny references after I have met them and am sure I am interested in a role. Usually these days I email my contact list of referees after the interview, along with a message about enjoying our meeting. You could also hand out the contact list on paper at the interview.
- If (when) families expect me to provide contact information for nanny references before an interview, I explain to them that my former employer’s time and privacy is important and I only provide their information at a later stage.
- Agencies will typically need to speak to references before you meet with a family. as part of the vetting process, so I am happy to do so after I have interviewed with the agency and am interested in a role through them. Some parents might still want to speak to your past employers themselves after that… While it can feel like a nuisance, I do understand it’s an important step that can help parents make the decision to hire you. Sometimes for parents there is nothing like speaking to a fellow parent and hearing how you impacted their lives as a nanny!
If you haven’t already been doing so, I think it’s a great idea for all nannies to ask employers for letters of recommendation. I’ve found them to be really helpful when applying directly to parents. Some parents are busy and might ask you to write your own for them to sign… Don’t. I really feel that nanny references are too personal for that, and I personally I notice when nanny references all read in a similar tone.
If your employers (or past employers) aren’t eager to spend the time writing one, let them know that you would appreciate it to stand out in your job search, and you hope it will reduce the need for people to want to contact them too often. It will benefit them in the long run.
Happy reference gathering!