Gone are the days of The Baby-Sitter’s Club. Your landline and notepad are no longer the tools you need to be a professional babysitter, and unfortunately, a glowing recommendation from one mom at a church luncheon or PTA meeting won’t have your phone ringing off the hook with job offers.
Like just about everything else, finding a babysitting job has changed tremendously as technology has become more and more embedded in our daily lives. These days, your smartphone, tablet, and laptop are the tools of the trade. And, while word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to get a job recommendation, it doesn’t always happen in person.
People find their babysitters in basically the same way they find good Chinese food. They Google it. That’s why, whether you’re a part-time sitter or a full-time nanny, you have to maintain a compelling online presence that can beat out the competition. Read on for tips on how to cultivate a profile and, ultimately, find a fulfilling babysitter job on the internet.
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Decide what type of job you want.
Not all babysitting jobs are created equal. Landing a casual gig in the evenings or on the weekends to line your pocket with a little extra spending money is one thing. A few hours of playing with the kids, feeding them dinner, and putting them to bed doesn’t require a lot of training, expertise, or even experience. As long as you can demonstrate you are trustworthy, dependable, and good with kids, most parents would be happy to have you.
If you’re trying to nail down a consistent, full-time nanny job, there are a lot more hoops to jump through. Rightfully so, of course, since you’ll basically be parenting the children while mom or dad is away. Not only will you need the right combination of education, experience, and training, you’ll need to be able to provide documentation of it all. Basically, you’ll need a resume, complete with references, certifications, and a thorough background check.
Pick a provider.
Once you’ve decided which type of job you’re going to pursue, you can move on to the next step — picking which online babysitting service you’ll use. With the dozens of sites out there, how do you know which one is right for you?
Well, you could do a quick search for posted job opportunities to see which site has the most, or you could stick with tried-and-true providers like Care.com, SitterCity.com, or UrbanSitters.com. Since you’re trying to connect with parents looking for sitters, your best bet is to follow the same rules they do for picking the best service. Simply adapt them for your side of the arrangement:
- Post your profile on multiple websites. It costs parents extra money to subscribe to multiple sites, not to mention the extra time it takes to look through them. They are probably going to pick just one site to focus on, so posting your profile on more than one will help you reach them, no matter which one they choose.
- Use the sites with the largest inventory in your area. Parents in your area are going to look for the site with the most sitters within five or 10 miles of their location. You should, too. While there is more competition, there is also more opportunity.
- Look at the services the site offers. Before you sign up, check to see if the site allows you to provide references and allows parents to provide ratings and reviews. If you are looking for a long-term or nanny position, most parents will also want to see a background check and driving record.
- Do a sample search — and use filters. Pretend you’re looking for a sitter. Enter the criteria your target employer would use, and see what comes up. Are there hundreds of sitters or just a few? Are there profile features where you can stand out among other applicants, like icons indicating foreign languages, CPR certification, or special needs care? Are there reviews or ratings, and can people see if you’ve been hired by a fellow parent with whom they have a connection?
- Check pricing. Most sites won’t charge you to sign up as a care provider initially, but you will likely have to pay before you respond to a job posting. You may also be able to pay for certain options that improve your chances of being seen, like showing up at the top of the list as a featured provider.
The exception to these rules is for people who are looking for niche positions. If you are interested in becoming an au pair or a live-in caregiver, you will likely have better luck with sites that cater to this specific need, like GreatAuPair.com or NannyAuthority.com.
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Complete your profile.
Your profile is your first impression, and — as the old adage goes — you only get one chance at it. A solid profile stands out, looks professional, and highlights the personal attributes that make you great at what you do. Unlike an old-school resume, stories about yourself and your favorite ways to interact with the kids you keep are allowed and encouraged.
Beyond being a passionate advocate for yourself, your profile should be filled out entirely. According to Care.com, one of the most common mistakes caregivers make when using their site is providing incomplete information, so be sure to include all of the following:
- Photo – Pick a clear photo of your smiling face. A smartphone photo is fine. Natural light outdoors makes for a great setting. Steer clear from anything that is too sexy or overly edited.
- Contact Information – Include a phone number and email address you check regularly. Missed messages and notifications can mean missed job opportunities and frustrated potential employers.
- Experience – Include all applicable childcare experience (including parenting), as well as any professional or volunteer work that exhibits skills a family might find helpful. In other words, if you were an office manager, you can probably leave that out, but if you were a scout leader, definitely include it!
- Education and Certifications – Include all your formal education and any applicable certifications, like CPR training or infant care classes.
- References and Reviews – This is the hardest part for many applicants, since you have to contact someone else to provide it. These items are important for that exact reason. Third-party recommendations validate you and help you stand out from other applicants.
- Background Checks – Run a background check on yourself, and make it available to families on your profile. It speaks volumes for your character and saves them the step of having to request one. Be sure to update it yearly!
- Salary Requirements – Be honest and up front about how much you charge hourly and how many children your rate covers. You should also list what payment types you accept — cash, check, and/or credit and debit cards.
- Social Media Links – This one is a little more controversial. If you’re comfortable linking to your public social media profiles, you can consider it. If you do, be sure to take a look at your profile from the perspective of a hiring family to be sure it is an accurate reflection of the type of employee and caregiver you’ll be.
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That’s it! You’re now ready to apply for jobs and, with a little luck, be found by families looking for a babysitter. Just remember, don’t sit back and wait. Be proactive about applying to jobs, respond promptly to client requests, and don’t give up. The right job is out there. With a little persistence, you’ll find it.