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How to Find a Nanny That’s a Perfect Fit for Your Family

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Finding a nanny is one of the most significant (and maybe toughest) decisions you will make as a parent of young children. The hiring process can be stressful and, at the same time, exciting.

It is important to take your time and be thorough in your search. That way you not only find a nanny that is right for you but one that could be with you for years.

While we will discuss where to find nannies for your job, it is most important to focus on how you will find the ideal caregiver for your children.

Give yourself time

Typically, you may need about three months to find a nanny. But in today’s tight job market you may need a little more time to find your caregiver. So give yourself plenty of time. It will help to relieve any pressure or anxiety you may feel going through the hiring process.

Know what you need before finding a nanny

The first step to finding a nanny is to know what you are looking for in an in-home caregiver. Beyond just knowing the hours you need to be covered and the basic tasks of childcare, what are the qualifications, education, and experience you want in nanny? What do want to see in their personality and childcare style? How do you want them to approach discipline?

What does your ideal nanny look like? What are the “must-haves” in a nanny? What are the “nice-to-haves?” What are the dealbreakers?

What is your budget? Know a range you can offer as an hourly rate (include overtime if your nanny will work more than 40 hours in a week) as well as any bonuses and benefits.

Having a detailed and thorough nanny job description will help weed out unqualified candidates and let you focus on those who can do the job.

Present yourself as an ideal employer

Right now, nannies are in demand. The pandemic has led many families to reconsider sending their children to daycare facilities and look for in-home care instead. The overall job crunch in the U.S. has not spared the household employment industry. It is competitive to find the best-qualified nannies and you want to be a desirable employer. Our surveys of nannies over the years show that the trustworthiness and personality of a family are top priorities for caregivers when deciding on a job (even more important than rate of pay!).

Also, consider your compensation package beyond an hourly rate. Are you offering standard benefits like vacation time, paid time off, and sick days? Have you considered including health benefits? Will you provide performance reviews and potential bonuses?

Conduct interviews

Conduct your first screenings by phone or virtually. When you have narrowed down your applicant pool to the top two or three candidates, then schedule in-person interviews. They can be conducted at your home, which may give you a chance to see how your candidate interacts with your children. Do they seem confident and engaged with your child? How is your child responding?

During the interview, ask “what if” type questions that will force your candidates to provide more than a “yes” or “no” response. What if my child fell and hit their head? What if my toddler refused to go down for a nap? Your candidate will need to think on their feet.

At the same time, you are judging their personality, appearance, and ability to communicate. To get to know them better, you may want to ask about their hobbies, what they like to do in their free time, and why they decided on a career working with children.

Get a sense of how they would structure a day with your child. What types of activities would they plan? You will want a nanny who will be actively engaged with your child, not someone who will just sit and watch.

Organize a trial day

There may be no better judge of a nanny than how they perform during a trial day. You will get to see them in action, perform under pressure, respond to direction, and work as a team. Candidates should be paid for all hours they’re “working” during the trial.

Check references

Before making a job offer, check your candidate’s references. They should not be family members. Babysitting their nieces and nephews is quite different than holding down a professional nanny position. References could be past family employers, daycare centers, or schools where they worked and cared for children. Ask about your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, reliability, and how they handled certain situations. Inquire about how long they were employed and why they left the family/school/daycare center.

Run a background check

There are a number of background checks you can run on your potential nanny, which may uncover driving violations and/or criminal records. Suggested background checks include driving records, social security, credit history, criminal convictions, drug testing, and sex offender registries. Make sure to follow any local or state laws regarding background checks of potential employees. You may be restricted to what you can actually check from an applicant’s background.

Make your hire

After all the interviews, reference calls, and background checks, your final decision may come down to what your gut tells you. You will be spending a lot of time with your nanny and they will share responsibility for raising your children. Often, nannies become “part of the family” just by the nature of their work. They may not be your best friend, but you need to be comfortable and confident in their ability to care for your children. Also, you will want a nanny who will grow with your child and help them develop emotionally, socially, and intellectually along the way.

Write a nanny contract

The nanny contract - or work agreement spells out the details of the employment. Some of it will come from your job description. It will also include schedule, pay rates, payday, method of pay, overtime rates, benefits, paid time off, job expectations, non-disclosure agreement, termination policies, house rules, and more.

Go through the work agreement with your nanny before both parties sign the contract so everyone is on the same page, which should limit surprises down the road.

Set up payroll and taxes

Employing a nanny in your home makes you an employer. Nannies are employees and not independent contractors. That means you need to follow tax, wage, and labor laws. Some families try to do this all on their own or rely on their accountants. A time-saving option is to use a comprehensive nanny payroll and tax service like GTM Payroll Services. We will set you up as an employer, take care of all the paperwork, handle payday with direct deposit (if desired), remit employer and employee taxes, and file end-of-year tax documents. Paying your nanny “off the books” will limit your options. In our survey of nannies, nearly half said it was not likely they would not take a job that did not pay “on the books.” In an already tight job market, cutting your candidate pool in half is not a smart idea.

Finding a nanny through an agency

When using a placement agency to help you find a nanny, the agency will do much of the work for you, which can shorten the length of time it takes to hire a caregiver. The agency will take the time to understand your family’s needs and what you seek in a nanny. They will show you candidates that match your job requirements and budget, so you do not have to go through a large number of applicants to find who you want to interview.

A nanny agency is also available to guide you through the hiring process from developing a job description to writing a nanny contract. Agencies provide the highest level of service and will charge either a flat fee or a percentage of your nanny’s annual wages.

Even when finding a nanny through an agency, you will still want to contact references and conduct a background check (unless the agency has told you they have already run one).

From our surveys of household employers, families who hire through an agency found their nanny faster and held on to them longer as opposed to those who used an online job site. If you are pressed for time – or going through the process for the first time – an agency may be the best way to find your nanny.

Finding a nanny through a referral

When you are looking for a nanny, put the word out to family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. In-home caregiving can be a high-turnover industry. A nanny may work for a family for several years but when the children are old enough to go to school, they may no longer need all-day care. Now that nanny is seeking a new opportunity. And it could be yours.

Getting a referral from a friend or colleague about a nanny can give you a great boost of confidence that the caregiver will be a good hire. That may be true but you still need to go through the steps of interviewing, calling references, and conducting a background check. Just because a nanny may have been a great fit for one family does not mean they will work out for you.

Finding a nanny through social media

Search Facebook and you will likely find a parenting, childcare, and/or nanny group for your area. Parents will post nanny job openings and job-seeking nannies will post about their credentials and availability. It is easy to make an immediate connection through online messaging.

Neighborhood message boards and websites may also have options to post your childcare needs.

From there, you again need to practice due diligence. First, be on the lookout for scams. If something does not feel right, it probably is not so move on. When you find legitimate interest in your position, go through the process of interviewing, calling references, and conducting a background check.

Also, whenever meeting someone off the Internet or social media for the first time, it is best to get together in a public place like a coffee shop and not in your home.

Finding a nanny through an online job site or job board

You can post your position on an online job site. It may be a quick way to get a lot of interest in your job. However, you may need to sift through many unqualified candidates, which can slow down the hiring process. If you live in a college town, university job boards may be available to hire students for childcare positions.

Reposted with a permission from GTM (

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