Hiring a Nanny During the Nanny Shortage

COVID has had a huge impact on the nanny industry and one of the results is a shortage of quality caregivers.  Agencies and parents are struggling to find qualified candidates and jobs are taking longer and longer to fill.  While there’s no way to magically make more nannies available, you can increase your chances of finding a great nanny by being smart in your search.  Here are my tips.

Learn the Industry
Many parents that are hiring are new nanny employers.  Previously their kids were in daycare, preschool, or school and they didn’t want or need in-home childcare.  With the closing of so many childcare options and in-person school closing for isolation over and over again, families are turning to nanny care in droves.  For good reason.  A quality nanny offers great one-on-one care in the child’s home plus household support.  It’s the only option available when the rest of the childcare industry is closed.

Whether you’re a new employer or have hired previously, before you jump into your search, learn about what quality nanny care really looks like, your responsibilities as an employer, the hiring process, and how to be successful in the employment relationship.  Each of those is a large and nuanced topic.  The best first place to start is the guidebook for the A to Z Nanny Contract.  I’m not trying to hawk my wares (I created the contract), the guidebook really is an excellent resource and walks you through many of the issues you need to understand.  You’ll also find lots of other resources here on NannyCareHub.com, the HomeWork Solutions blog and HomePay blog.  Your local nanny group and leaders are also an excellent source of information and they can give you the scoop on local rates too.

Know the Difference Between a Nanny and a Family Assistant
Lots of families are looking to hire a caregiver that will pick up many of the household tasks the family doesn’t have time to do like family laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, dog walking, whatever.  They’re looking for ways to justify the higher cost of in-home care and expanding duties beyond childcare seems like a workable solution.  However, there’s a standardized nanny job description and it only includes tasks related to the child.  So child’s laundry, child’s meals, picking up after the child are all a go for a nanny.  Family laundry, family meals, errands, and other helpful things are not.  (Some nannies are willing to expand their job description somewhat for an increase in wages however, that expansion doesn’t equate a family assistant’s role.)  A family assistant is a hybrid role whose job description is based on the family’s needs so you can build in whatever tasks work for you as long as it’s a reasonable list that one person can complete and is willing to do.  So before you hire, take a realistic look at your expectations and your budget (family assistants make more than nannies per hour) and hire the right person for your job.

Consider a Share
Nanny care is expensive.  Shockingly so to many parents.  Choosing a nanny share, where one nanny cares for the children of two or three families at the same time, is a great way to get in-home care and save money.  You’ll save about 25% off the nanny’s single family rate.  You will miss out on some of the household support but if your main concern is consistent, quality childcare, shares are a great option.  In these times of COVID, it’s important to pick share families that have the same level of COVID caution that your family does and if your kids attend a care center or are in school, that attend the same place. 

Boost Your Compensation Package
Nannies rates have gone up over the past 2 years for every level of nanny.  In some areas, that increase is $1 to $2 an hour.  In other high demand areas, that increase is $5 to $10 an hour.  Families that aren’t offering competitive wages simply won’t be able to hire in this market in most cases.  It’s not fair but unfortunately, the huge difference between supply and demand make this the current reality.  However, the hourly rate isn’t the only thing a nanny looks at when deciding on a job.  Think outside the box when developing your benefit package.  For students, you could offer tax free tuition.  For the travel loving nanny, you could ask Grandma to come in and give your nanny a month of vacation for a big trip.  For nannies with their own child, you could allow them to bring their child to work.  For the nanny who doesn’t want to use their car for work anymore, you could lease them a work car.  No matter the benefits, you still need to offer a competitive rate, however a great benefit package customized to your nanny’s personal needs could mean you can pay in the lower end rather than the higher end of the nanny’s range.    

Share Why You’re a Great Employer
They say money isn’t everything and they’re right.  Even with the increased rates in the nanny world, being happy in the job is still at the top of a nanny’s wish list.  Employers who genuinely respect, appreciate, trust, and work as a team with their nanny are the ones nannies want to work for.  So make sure you’re selling your family and your employer style in your job description and during the interview.

Write a Compelling Job Profile
There are so many job profiles and nanny wanted ads out there now, you have to put some real thought into writing one that really stands out.  This is your first selling tool and screening tool.  If you provide a detail-rich job profile, nannies that really connect with your family will pursue the job and nannies that need something different will pass you by.  If you’re the creative type, here’s the place to put those skills to work.  (Check out the best job description writer in the industry at My Girl Friday.)

Your job description should include the nuts and bolts (area, hourly rate, benefits, schedule, responsibilities), a narrative about your kids, your family, you as employers, the kind of environment you provide, and the nanny you’re looking for (education, experience, skills, personality).  Chances are you’ll have to shorten it for some care finder sites.  Set up an auto-responder with the full description and next steps for those nannies interested.

Recruit Outside the Box
Reaching potential quality candidates is one of the hardest parts of hiring.  Good nannies can be found in a plethora of places.  If you have a quality agency in your area, I encourage you to use it.  They will make your search so much easier and faster.  (Not all agencies provide a quality service so do your research when choosing one.)  You can also find nannies on care sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, mom groups, neighborhood groups, your church, community colleges, universities, childcare organizations, and more.  The key is to throw your net as wide as possible.  Tell everyone you know and everyone you meet you’re looking.  Put a profile up everywhere that allows it.  You cannot be shy when recruiting for your next nanny.  This is a numbers game.  Even with an all-out effort, you’ll go through many, many unqualified candidates to uncover the few that are qualified and meet your needs.

Stay On Top of Your Search
Nannies get hired quickly so make sure you’re staying ahead of other families.  Be prepared with all your documentation before you start.  Respond to candidates quickly, in detail, and outline next steps.  Interview at the nanny’s earliest convenience.  When you find someone you’re interested in, let them know and make their reference and background check a priority.  When you find the person you’d like to hire, prepare an offer letter detailing the offer and send it to them with a warm invitation to come work with your family.  If they’re still considering other families, give them the space they need to make an informed decision and let them know you’d like the opportunity to match other offers they receive.  Quality nannies are in high demand (and always have been) so don’t let a slow response cause you to miss a great hire.

Don’t Settle for an Unqualified Caregiver
As much as you need to hire a nanny NOW, don’t settle for someone who won’t provide great childcare or support your family in the way you need.  There are NO regulations or requirements for nannies.  Anyone, regardless of education, experience, or skills, can say they’re a nanny and apply for your job.  Many talk a good game and, on the surface, seem like a workable match.  Dig deeper.  Don’t rush through the vetting process, don’t ignore red flags out of desperation, don’t think you can fix things once they’re hired.  Hiring a childcare provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make so take the time to do it right even when the pressure to hire someone, anyone, is overwhelming.  There are temp agencies that offer vetted, temp nannies to help out while you search.  Having a temp isn’t the best option, however, it’s a better option that hiring someone that will provide less than quality care and cost you more time, money, effort, and stress in the end.

I hope this article was helpful.  It’s tough out there right now for families hiring but don’t give up.  There are lots of quality nannies looking for their next, great job!

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