“How to” series: How to describe who you want as a nanny


Mary Poppins is the most frequent association to the word nanny!

Many families stumble when it comes to posting a job description for a nanny – they work hard, produce a great looking ad and … get no answers or get applicants that don’t meet their needs.

After a decade of doing ads myself and helping others successfully post theirs, the secret to it is to be clear who you want as your helper in the home. There is a great divergence of what families consider as best, hence our company name: indeed “my” best helper may not be yours at all. For example, I may want someone to just focus on the kids and their development while you need someone to help you with housework and cooking. Sometimes the same person can do both, but more often than not, it’s the strength of a given nanny but an area of struggle for another.

Just look at how nannies choose to describe themselves on their own – some say they are “outdoorsy, fun university graduates” while others are “caring, experienced and helpful”.  

So what works best? Here are the five things to consider:

1. Start with logistics

Upfront, list the logistics in the following order – location, full vs part-time, start date, salary. If a person can’t make these, there is no point for them to read any further.

2. Specify any hard stops

Things like working permit, drivers license or a given level of education required are not easy to obtain in a weekend, so these would be hard stops for candidates who don’t have them. If you have some time before you need the person to start, things like a criminal background check or CPR/first aid can be obtained fairly fast so they fall into a different category. 

3. Describe your situation

Usually that would include number and age of kids, any special needs or circumstances or any pets. 

4. Describe your family

It’s helpful to give the candidates a quick description of your family – for example, do you have a steady or a busy schedule, do you like spending time outdoors or indoors. Many families are surprised to learn how carefully nannies evaluate who they will be working with – it certainly is not a one way street!   

5. Finally – outline your wish list

Too many families are not specific enough on what they need – who would be their preferred candidate if they had a magic wand and could just make it happen. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction and there really is someone who “loves ballet (with your 6yo girl) and kick boxing (with your 8 yo boy), plays the piano, is happy to organize messy toy /clothes closets and loves to cook” and is willing to start at 6h30am. Being specific down to the smallest details is helpful and makes your job description stand out from the many “wonderful family needs full-time nanny”.

Our site helps structure this process – when you sign up and post a job, we ask you all the questions that then create a posting that makes sense to potential candidates, thus speeding up part of the process of hiring. 

More tips to come and please let me know what else you ares struggling with. And – good luck with your search!

 Alexandra T. Greenhill, MD, mother of three CEO and Co-founder myBestHelper


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