Getting references is an extremely important part of being a nanny. The references you gather will determine what kind of jobs you can get or if you can get a job at all. Starting out, this may be the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
If you have babysat for friends and family throughout your teen years, congratulations you have a great base. If you are like me, those opportunities didn’t arrive and now here you are, ready to be a nanny and no one will even consider you. How do get these oh so valuable references?
The casual low paying babysitting jobs are a dime a dozen and if you apply for several of them, you are likely to land one. Make sure you arrive early, bring things for the kids to do and leave a nice clean house and you will have gained a reference. If you are using Care.com make sure to have them leave you a review. After a got a couple good reviews, getting jobs was easy.
If you attend church, you can probably volunteer to help in the nursery or Sunday school classes. These look great on a resume and the children’s director (or whoever is in charge) will probably agree to be a reference for you.
Even if your past job had nothing to do with kids, you can still use former employers as a reference. They can comment on your openness, ability to learn and general character. It can also help if you stayed with that job for a while as a family seeking a nanny will probably be looking for someone who is willing to commit to the job for a while.
Teachers can also be a great reference. You probably spent a lot of time under them and they know if you work hard or not. Most of the time teachers really want to help their students succeed and they can really sell you as a person.
This one is not quite as credible, but if you have younger cousins or nieces and nephews that you could watch, it would at least show your experience. Family is usually willing to serve as references and might be enough to at least help you land a trial run.
This technically is not really a way to gain references, but can help if you are really struggling to get some. A trail run can be done many different ways, but typically it is a time that you watch the kids for a brief time with the mother there so she can see how you interact with the children. Usually I offer these trail runs for free to get them to agree (I have never left unpaid). This puts the mom at ease when she hires you, because she has seen you work and she can see that there isn’t anything you’re trying to hide. These are even done sometimes when you have references just to see if you are a good fit for the family. Even if the job does not work out for some reason or another, if you manage to impress the parents you still may be able to get a reference from it.
Almost anyone can be reference and most people are completely willing, you just need to ask. Sometimes it can be a little awkward and you want to make sure the person will be a good reference, but sometimes you just need to go for it. I found it really difficult to ask for my first reviews, but after the first time or two, it started coming pretty easily.