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Top Tips from Childcare Agency Experts!

Top Tips from Childcare Agency Experts!

Finding the right nanny job can be a challenging task. We wanted to give you some expert tips on your nanny job search. 

We spoke to our valued nanny recruitment experts from successful nanny and governess placement agencies and compiled these Top 10 expert tips on job hunting. 

Read on to discover what the nanny and governess agencies suggest doing when you see nanny required job vacancies in London and worldwide!

Time for a new job?


1. Register properly and fill out on-site forms carefully

Many agencies will ask you to register with them online via a form on their website, as well as submit your resume. Even if you have already written your CV, emailed it to them and don't see the need to do it again, be aware that this is an important part of the process for two reasons.

Firstly, it helps the relevant agency collate your information on their own database so that they can present it professionally. Secondly, it weeds out candidates who are not dedicated enough to spend the extra few minutes populating the form. Just a few minutes of your time spent doing this properly can show that you are a diligent and serious candidate, and this is particularly important for agencies to be aware of.

And registering properly doesn’t go unnoticed.

Martin Espley, Director of VIP nanny and governess agency Elite Educational Development suggests that ‘candidates who don’t fill out the form properly or write “see CV”, come across as not taking the application seriously.’

‘Of course,’ he adds, ‘we want to introduce top notch candidates to our clients. If you didn’t fill in the application properly, don’t expect to be headhunted for a VIP nanny, governess or tutor job.’

Carrie-Ann Pryke, of Duke & Duchess International, agrees. ‘Your time and effort in [the application] process is a reflection on your working attitude, professionalism and suitability to Duke & Duchess International and our clients,’ she says. ‘Make your skills, experience and qualifications stand out from others and make all of this shine through to our team when you register.’

To ensure that your application is received, and properly processed by the agency, be prepared to invest a little time into registering carefully, and according to the relevant agency’s suggested guidelines.


2. Choose your photograph carefully 

At Jobs in Childcare, we have long advocated using photos carefully to enhance your application. 

And myTamarin agrees. Sally Bate, of myTamarin, notes that ‘the wrong photo could immediately rule you out. Parents are looking for nannies who come across as professional, friendly and approachable.’

‘For a winning photo, families will be drawn to... smile (so, no pouting), stand against a plain white background (so, no sightseeing pics), have just your head and shoulders in the frame (think passport photo), don’t zoom in and crop your friends out (it will be obvious!), and dress appropriately (you’re not going on a night out with your friends!).’

An essential part of your application, good use of photographs, is something agencies will really be looking out for when they draw up a shortlist of candidates for a top nanny job vacancy.

To find out more about using photos, you can read the Jobs in Childcare guide to successfully using photographs as part of your nanny job application.


3. Spellcheck!

Want to make sure you come across as professional? Then submit a grammatically correct CV with no spelling errors!

This really is quite straightforward but essential for a solid application. Director of Kinder Nanny Agency Gillian Buhler advises to ‘check your CV for any inaccuracies, as any information which does not tally will cast doubt on the whole CV and your application in general.’

Cleo Adamou, of boutique agency Great British Nannies, suggests that ‘The way you present yourself both in communication style over the email or telephone, in the writing of your CV and during an interview allows recruiters to gauge the time and care you put into applying for the role and indicates how you might apply that in your role.’

‘Unfortunately,’ she adds, ‘we come across too many CVs that have a lot of spelling and grammatical errors, or limited time and care that has been put in. We don't expect our nannies and governesses to be English majors. However, with the help of Microsoft Word spell and grammar check, or asking a good friend for their opinion, before sending your CV to agencies, can really help. Sometimes we don't see errors ourselves when we've spent hours looking at job descriptions and making applications.’ 

It’s true that mistakes in a CV, even in terms of dates and names of courses, can be a red flag for agencies that are on the lookout for only the best candidates. Don’t fall into this trap! 

Great British Nannies also offers a course for Governesses which includes great CV writing tips.


4. Be honest

We strongly recommend you never, ever consider adding ‘extras’ to your CV, be it experience you don’t have or qualifications you didn’t obtain or didn’t complete the studies for. Not only can you be prosecuted for fraud, but agencies that thoroughly check your background and references will find the discrepancies sooner rather than later.

As Sally Bate of MyTamarin explains: ‘If you are ever tempted to enhance your experience or fill career gaps with jobs that aren’t legit, please don’t do it! If agencies or parents are thoroughly checking your references and know what to look out for, it won’t take them long to catch you out. Apart from the lack of honesty, which isn’t a great trait, you don’t need to do it in order to get a job. We’ve come across two nannies recently who we would have been more than happy to place without the “additional experience” the fake job gave them, but of course we had to reject them as soon as we found out.’

Carrie-Ann Pryke of Duke and Duchess International agrees. ‘Please only provide our team with accurate and honest information,’ she asks. ‘We fully vet our candidates and check your certifications and references when you register. Our team have all worked within the industry and we acknowledge other opportunities arise and plans change. We are an open and honest agency and expect the same from our candidates to maintain a professional working relationship.’

So if you do feel the itch to soup up your CV, don’t do it. There is a very good chance it will end badly. 


5. Make sure it’s the right position for you

Naturally, you need to make sure the position you are applying for is suitable for you as a person. And considering the amount of time you are likely to be spending at work and the ‘human’ factor of working in a childcare role in close proximity with a family, a ‘good fit’ is paramount.

‘The relationship between you and the family you work for isn’t like a normal employer-employee relationship,’ explains Sally Bate (myTamarin). ‘It’s going to be incredibly intimate and that’s why your compatibility in terms of family values, parenting style, personality and communication is often more important than years of experience or the number of languages you speak.'

'This is very important, when considering harmony for all. For example, if the parents enjoy their privacy and you are outgoing, sociable and thrive on interaction with other people, this may not be the best match, particularly if you are going to be in the same house all day. Or, if the parents are big on structure and routine and you are more relaxed, this may not be a problem when you are in sole charge (they may even be looking for someone who is more relaxed), but it could cause tension if you’re all together day after day.’

Cleo Adamou (Great British Nannies) agrees that picking the right family to work with is a tremendous decision. ‘Know what you are looking for in your next role,’ she advises. ‘This could be location, working hours, salary, age groups you like to work with, etc. Do your research on which agencies have vacancies that closest match your requirements and choose a few that you feel you will be able to work closely with in order to find your next amazing job.'

'We want to find a role that suits yourself and the family so well that you are happy and thriving whilst we get happy feedback from all parties knowing the children are being cared for, educated and having fun. It's better to be specific and find a role that is greatly suited to you than settle for less.’

In summary, be sure you are not applying for or accepting just ‘any’ job. The job you apply for should be appropriate to your personality and work ethic.


6. Be realistic

As well as being a good personality fit, your nanny job should also be congruous to your own skills, background and work experience. Applying for a job that you are not qualified for will make you look careless and unprofessional.

Lucy Challenger of domestic staff recruitment and training company Polo and Tweed states that as a candidate, you should ‘have realistic goals and expectations. Read the job specifications carefully and only apply if you really feel it matches who you are and what you are looking for.’

In short, don’t be dazzled by a high salary position if it is not the right fit for you. Martin Espley, Director of Elite Educational Development, explains, ‘You will look unprofessional if you don’t fit the job specification. You absolutely do not want to come across as an opportunist to an agency that will be deciding whether or not to put you forward for future positions.’

Be realistic about the jobs that you apply for, and make sure you can back up your application with proof of the right qualifications and work experience.


7. Keep communication professional

Any communication between yourself and the agency should be businesslike and prompt. Demonstrate a lack of professionalism to your agency at your peril. Remember that these are the people deciding which candidate is best suited for a particular role, and your behaviour is an extension of their own reputation. Try to keep emails and other communication clear and concise.

Steer clear of confusion!

As Cleo Adamou of Great British Nannies notes, ‘How you communicate with us shows a lot about how you might interact with a family. We are aware that the application can sometimes be tiring and somewhat tedious, especially as different agencies have their own approaches. However, remember, we are doing everything we can to find you your perfect role and advise you according to our industry expertise. A little respect goes a long way!’

‘Communicating with you is really important to allow us to support your job search,’ adds Duke and Duchess’s Carrie-Ann Pryke. ‘We need to be able to reach you to arrange interviews, prepare you for an interview or receive your feedback after meeting with our clients. The easier this is the better and faster we can assist you.’

In short, make sure your dealings with agencies are serious and prompt, and do not lose your patience. A delayed response from an agency, is much more likely to be caused by a hold-up on the family or employer’s side, than within the agency itself. A candidate looking for a job should always keep their end of the bargain when it comes to professionalism.

As Lucy Challenger of Polo and Tweed notes: ‘Communication is key. We move quickly and expect the same from you. Keep an eye on your spam email and respond quickly to our communications with you.’


8. Include relevant materials

When you apply for a position by email, it is a good idea to include all the relevant materials in a single email. This can comprise your CV, cover letter, photos, qualification certificates, references and more. A well organised email with all this information included will demonstrate your organisational skills and competence whilst making the process simpler for the agency. As Martin Espley of Elite Educational Development suggests, ‘Some candidates choose to compile their documents in a single file on Google Drive and send us a link with access to the folder. This is convenient, succinct and easy for us to work with.’


Your cover letter itself should be concise and straightforward. Gillian Buhler of Kinder Nanny Agency notes that ‘It is a good idea to write a cover letter tailored to each position you are applying for; this will compliment your CV. Include a brief introduction of yourself and your reasons for being interested in this position, and also explain why you think you are the right person for this job. Crucially, try to see things from the 'employer's' point of view—what are they looking for in a candidate? (e.g., flexibility, relevant experience, looking for long term, etc)’

Buhler also recommends that you ‘Make sure your enhanced DBS (criminal background check) is recent, if it is not, then renew it now; it takes time to process and during that time the employer may offer 'your' position to someone else. The same goes for your first Aid; make sure you have a recent certificate (preferably within the last year). Make sure you have references for your work; your most relevant references will be for your most recent or longest term jobs and the jobs which are similar to those that you now wish to apply for. Ensure that you have supporting documents ready, your ID documents (utility bill with a passport or photocard driving licence is good), and any certificates you mention in your CV.’


9. Ask Questions in your Interview

Questions in an interview are a great way to show that you are engaged, serious, paying attention and genuinely interested in the role you are applying for.

As Tonya Illing of Occasional & Permanent Staff, summarises, you should ‘make sure you are familiar with the details of the job you're interviewing for and be prepared with a few questions for the family; avoid questions with yes/no answers, but do include questions about the children and their interests, and confirm the details of the job, including duties, expected working hours and working days, are as expected.’

Simone Wilson of Homebodies, a bespoke nanny agency based in London, concurs. ‘It is a two-way process and you are choosing the job as much as the family is choosing you. Make sure you have your own questions ready to ask a family so you can be really sure they are going to be right for you. Make sure they offer a nanny contract so your taxes, holidays, notice period and sick pay are all covered.’

Of course, punctuality, presentation and organisation are also key to a successful interview. You should always be on time, fully prepared and engaged. To refresh with our Jobs in Childcare Top 12 Interview tips please click here.


10. Format your CV properly

Even if you register online, you will likely be required to submit a CV for a nanny job application. And as well as checking your spelling and grammar, formatting is another important factor.

Your CV should be clear, easy to read, and use a sensible file extension (.doc, .docx, .pdf) so it can be easily opened and clearly viewed. Lucy Challenger of Polo and Tweed confirms, ‘Make sure your CV is updated and is in really clear format’ she says. ‘You can even download our free template here’.


So there you have it! Expert tips on what the agencies are looking for when they interview and hire nannies. Remember to use the advice above wisely, and good luck in your job hunt!

The Jobs in Childcare Team