So, I signed up for a free trial of Sittercity, an online nanny/babysitter search service. This trial allowed me to create and post a job description and to see when people had applied, but not to actually read the applications. Fine. I guess, as in online dating, it’s not a terrible thing to know people had to pay to play. So I paid (after finding an online coupon code, of course).
Whoa. This enabled me not only to read the applications of the people who applied, but also to search for nannies that might meet my specifications, even supplying, in some cases, references, background check results, and reviews. This is where it got weird. The profiles are pretty basic: a photo, first name and last initial, age, location, and basic certifications and credentials. From here, I began to establish my list of tips for prospective nannies:
1. Practice Photo Etiquette. You are trying to get a job, not a date. And not a job dancing or waiting tables or posing provocatively, either. You are trying to get a job caring for children in their parents’ absence. There must be no cleavage, no seductive poses, no pouty lips, no risqué clothing, and never, under any circumstances, should you be wearing a bathing suit. Which brings me to,
2. Know your audience. Off hand, I’d say there’s a 95% chance the person perusing your profile is a woman, a mother, who is in the stressful and emotionally draining process of searching for someone to care for her child, a job she likely thinks no one is actually qualified to do. In addition to that, the whole nanny and husband scenario is pretty done at this point. You’re already at a disadvantage, perception wise. Do not make it worse.
3. Learn to spell. Really. Or, at the very least, spell check. If you tell me you are studying elementary education and can’t spell “church,” I will not hire you. You can’t profess a love of learning and that you will teach my child to read and write if it doesn’t seem like you know how. Likewise,
4. No shorthand. This is not a text message, it’s a profile on a job site you had to pay to join. Use punctuation, capital letters, and spell words out. Be professional.
5. Don’t be gorgeous and 22. Okay, this is only half serious, and it’s probably just me. But while hiring a nanny is bound to make this next stage of our family’s life much more bearable, I do not relish it. In our interviews, I have felt as if I am hiring someone to do what is actually my job. The women we have interviewed have all been wonderful, professional, courteous, good with the kids, and sweet. They are not the problem; I am. And I can’t help but feel that if I walk into my house and see a young woman with my baby on her hip, wiping down the counter in my kitchen and laughing with my husband I might just turn around and walk out. No one wants to feel replaceable, least of all in her most important roles.
This process was always going to be terrible. It feels impossible to find someone great to watch my kids when I just want to be there and feel like I’m missing it. The occasional email I would read aloud to Daniel that started, “Hi, I’m Gaby and I’m Brazilian” (that one got a raised eyebrow and a resolute “no, thank you” ) were funny, but this is a big deal. This person will have a front-row view into our marriage, our family, our life. It’s not always a pretty picture. I am not proud of my complicated feelings on the matter, and I didn’t intend to turn something that’s all about them into all about me. I’m not sure what the right way to go about this is, but not everything is better online.