By Michelle LaRowe, Executive Director of Morningside Nannies and Editor in Chief of eNannySource.com
It’s no secret that the way nannies and families are finding each other is changing. In fact, both Be the Best Nanny Newsletter and the International Nanny Association and have published reports indicating the number of nannies who are using online nanny recruiting sites to find their nanny positions is rising. And given the fact that some sites are constantly expanding, one can only speculate that they have the revenue, client base and consumer demand to do so.
But is using an online nanny site really safe?
The simple answer? Yes.
The more accurate answer? Yes, when they are used as designed.
There are many ways parents and nannies can find each other. Word-of-mouth, placing an ad in the local paper, hanging up flyers, calling local colleges, leveraging social media statuses, using Craigslist, using a nanny placement agency, and using a nanny recruiting web site are all viable options. At their very core, these are all recruiting tools. And for job seekers and parents seeking childcare, the more tools they use, the more people they can advertise their needs to. The more people they can reach, the greater the chances are that they will find their best match. In today’s economy, finding the right relationship in the right salary ballpark requires both parents and nannies to expand their reach.
Today’s online sites are the new do-it-yourself recruiting model.
In their simplest form, online nanny sites provide a way for parents and nannies to connect. With proprietary search engines, online sites allow parents and nannies to make their searches as broad or narrow as they wish. The narrower the search field, the more closely of a match the results will be.
Just like brick and mortar agencies, many sites offer services beyond the matching.
In fact, for nannies, web sites may offer added security since both nannies and families can run background checks on each other – and no, not just the kinds that give instant results. You can get real background checks that involve the same county court records checks that reputable agencies advertise they provide. But, you have to pay for them.
So why do online sites get the reputation of being unsafe? Because with online sites, parents, and nannies must make their own choices with regards to the level of screening they wish to do and the responsibility of conducting those screenings is theirs alone.
With traditional, reputable agencies, like those who hold membership in the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, parents pay a set fee and the agency automatically does the screening for them. With nanny web sites parents pay a base fee and then must choose and pay for screenings they’d like to have conducted on their behalf. For caregivers, both options are typically free.
Reputable agencies prescreen nannies before they ever meet families, but most still complete the final background check upon the offer of a position. With nanny web sites, parents have the same options and more – in fact they can do the full screening before they ever meet a candidate. The difference between agencies and online job postings is that parents have to choose to conduct the screenings and, many times, they simply don’t.
5 Tips for Using an Online Site Safely
2. Choose a site that provides quality customer service. The customer service phone number should be easy to find and when you call, even if you have to leave a message, you should receive a prompt reply. Look for a site with a US based dedicated customer support team.
3. Familiarize yourself with best practices. Look for a site with a library of current information and best practices that instructs parents on how to interview, screen and hire a nanny and instructs nannies on how to do much of the same. Follow the instructions that walk you through the process.
4. Don’t take shortcuts. All do-it-yourself models require work. Prescreen candidates through email and over the phone to weed out ones who aren’t a match. Order background checks and wait for them to come back, call the references and pay attention to employment history.
5. Use common sense. Set up your first meeting in a public place and don’t provide too many personal details until you’re sure that there is mutual interest in the job. If someone who contacts you sounds too good to be true, they probably are.
Regardless of how parents find nannies and nannies find families, the ultimate screening and decision making responsibility lies with them. Take your responsibility seriously.
Michelle LaRowe is the Executive Director of Morningside Nannies, Houston’s best nanny agency and the Editor in Chief of eNannySource.com and Ken Myers, owner of Longhorn Leads, parent company of Morningside Nannies and eNannySource.com.