We're Often Asked By Candidates Coming To Work As A Nanny In London What Options They'll Be Met With For Finding Work In The Capital
What documents should I bring to register with an agency? How long does it take to secure a job? Or, what they ought to expect as they proceed with looking for nanny work.
Here Are Some Tips for job-seekers arriving from overseas
Most applicants from overseas will be arriving from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I recently carried out a question and answer session for the Australian Association of Nanny Agencies, billed as Australian nannies working overseas, and as a result I gained a pretty good idea of some of the common questions and concerns that many overseas childcare professional raise. So I will try to address these issues to help you come to London prepared with the right documents, and hope these tips are helpful in getting to know what to expect.
Prepare Yourself As Early As Possible
Begin to do your research while you're still in your home country and use the internet to get a list of agencies that specialise in sourcing nannies. Make a short-list of the companies you want to approach, but find out what they require as a minimum standard to register before sending your expression of interest to each of them. Most agencies will minimally require you to provide originals of your current ID documents such as passport, visa and driving licence and if you're from an Antipodean country your current ID card.
What should I bring when it comes to registering?
You will need to have originals of the following documents to support your application
- Minimum of two fully checkable references from previous employers;
- Minimum of two proofs of identity: Passport, Drivers Licence, Birth Certificate, Work Permits/Visas;
- The appropriate international police checks carried out in your country;
As regards childcare qualifications,while it's not essential to be qualified in childcare in order to apply for some nanny jobs, e.g. temporary nannying, it's certainly an advantage if you do have a childcare, teaching, or nursing certificate.
Childcare related employment references can be from families you've previously worked for, or from nurseries and schools with whom you've held a child caring position. You can also include any certificates of attendance for short courses as long as they can be related to nannying, e.g. safeguarding, food-hygiene, swimming instruction, music teaching, art therapy and anything else relevant to applying for a job working with children.
You'll need a portfolio in which to keep all these documents neatly filed, secure, and easily portable!
Your nannying references
You'll need to ensure any and all verbal references are verifiable, I.e. phone numbers and email (as opposed to postal addresses). This is very important, as the agency needs to be able to verify your references, and families will want to contact your ex-employers if you're short-listed. So, it's polite to always inform your ex-employers they may receive a phone call or email from agencies and families, so they can expect such communications. Agencies are used to working with international time differences and will normally email an ex-employer first to arrange a convenient time to speak.
Please also ensure your employment referees are for childcare related work! There's little point in contacting the owner of a local coffee shop where you may have been working as a server!
Always try to fill the rest of your portfolio with menus devised for different age groups of children, and perhaps any craft activities that you may have worked on. It's often beneficial to have photographs of you interacting with children, but do remember that you must always have parental permission when using photographs of their children.
Make the most of your CV
A good CV will help you go a long way with finding either permanent or temporary nanny work in London. It should be up-to-date before you send it to your selected agencies, and preferably before you even arrive in the UK.
A good CV is your ticket
A well presented CV will get you an appointment with agencies and get the ball rolling for you to be forwarded to parents. Nannying work in London is very competitive so the more advantages you have the better.
Your CV must include:
- Location of employment
- Ages of children you cared for
- A brief list of your duties
- Length of previous employment and reason for leaving
- Details of certificates and qualifications
Organise your CV
Divide your CV into clear and consistently formatted sections that have your most recent job at the top and works backwards to your first employment. Families don't care if you're a qualified neurosurgeon or an astronaut, what they want to see is your childcare experience. So, please avoid including reams of information about what a wonderful job you did for the sales of a company or that you have a respected non-childcare related qualification! Such information is highly likely to detract from a childcare focus - which is a prerequisite for nannying.
Families want to see you've stayed in most of your employment roles for a reasonable time, and ideally not jumped between childcare and other types of work too frequently. Of course, some jobs are shorter term than others, so if you've been in a fixed-term nannying assignment you should highlight these positions as such.
Put your employment history into a single block of information for each nanny position you've held, with the 'name of employer', the corresponding 'from' and 'to' dates, the 'ages of children', 'your main duties' and 'your reason for leaving' for each role. The CV is initially all you have to sell yourself so use the duties description well and ensure the employer is made aware of your skills, abilities, and knowledge of child care and development. For example, if you've gained experience of caring for babies you can talk about the introduction of weaning, or the setting of a sleep routine, and perhaps managing reflux. With an older child you could discuss which fun activities you used to encourage motor skills, speech, learning colours, shapes or numbers or whatever was age appropriate for the child in your care. It doesn't help to write comments such as: "I had to feed him", or "I had to change her nappy". These are considered obvious and normal. However, it's always good to pop in something like you cook healthy meals from scratch or that you're happy to wrap up and get outdoors in all weather.
What type of position are you seeking?
Are you looking for a live-in or a live-out nanny job? Are you considering full-time or part-time positions? Would you accept permanent or temporary nanny work or both?
There should be a summary paragraph at the top of your CV so the employer can gain a quick overview of you and what type of nanny employment you're looking for. Would you consider a temporary position or are you only looking for permanent nanny work. If you do want permanent work you can state this in your summary and write that you're looking to work as a nanny long term - as most parents tend to select a candidate who can commit to staying as long as possible, and quite often want an engagement of at least two or three years.
Promote Yourself Simply, Clearly & Precisely
Finally, just to say once again that you should try to avoid writing statements like 'I love kids', or 'I'm a kind nice person, and especially avoid statements such as 'I've looked after my nephews and nieces or indeed any other family members. It's much better to write clear, concise and simple facts that demonstrate your nanny skills, ability and experience for the job you're applying for.
This can just as easily be presented with short bullet point statements as put below:
- Qualified (CACHE, BTEC, NVQ, City & Guilds, Montessori - as appropriate)
- Ancestry Visa
- Clean drivers licence
- Up-to-date Police Check
- Up-to-date First-aid
- Newborn experience
- Excellent, verifiable references (related to childcare)
How Long Will It Take To Get Work?
It would be sensible to plan so that you have enough money to not rely on immediate employment and be prepared to possibly wait longer than you may expect. Applying for a jobs may be more competitive than you've imagined, there are always lots of childcare professionals looking for work in London and families can, for various reasons, take their time to short-list candidate and schedule an interview. After you've attended an interview, parents normally do second interviews and then a trial day. This all takes time, often with about a week in between each stage.
When you do start you work you'll be paid monthly, not weekly, so be prepared for this period of time too.
It's easier for secure temporary nanny or part-time nanny work, shared care (parent at home) and live-in jobs. Four and five day live-out jobs are generally harder to secure.
Be Prepared For Your Introduction To The Family
What do I wear is a familiar question: it's best to wear clean comfortable modest clothing that allows you to get down on the floor and interact with the children. There'ss no need to wear a suit or heels. Long hair should be tied back, nails should be reasonably short and clean, with no dangling jewellery and you should wear moderate make up. Male nannies, or Mannies, are increasingly popular especially if you have a sporty or primary school background. Again, casual clean relaxed clothing is the order of the day for attending interviews.
You Only Get One Chance to Make A Good First Impression
Interviews with families usually last around an hour. Research the address before you set off to your interview and always make sure you've got more than enough time to find the address and allow for traffic problems. Smile, be pleasant, ask about the child's present routine and be prepared to answer questions on first aid, baby routines, or child development. It's normal to be a little nervous but do try to be your natural self and show your genuine interest and experience with children. It's probably best not to ask about holidays, or talk about salary too much at a first interview! If you're interviewing through an agency you can be assured you will have back up and help with any issues such as contracts, ensuring the family is aware of your employment rights such as paid holidays, tax and national insurance, whereas if you don't use an agency or use an on-line nanny site you won't have the benefit of experienced advice and support, or after-care. It's usually best to use an agency because although most families are wonderful you can occasionally come across those who perhaps want you to cut corners when it comes to your employment rights, and if you're not too experienced you may not recognise this until it is too late!
What Is A Nanny?
Nannies work culture differences can vary dramatically, so to avoid under-selling yourself you'll need to understand what is meant by being a nanny in the UK.
The words babysitter, Au-pair, or child-minder mean different things in different countries. For example, when you say you're a babysitter in Australia it usually means that you look after the children alone during the day, going through all the routine of the day and providing all of the child's care. However, in the UK the term babysitting is what happens when the parents go out for an evening and the sitter will sit in the home probably watching television or similar while the baby sleeps. A babysitter in the UK is often a teenage girl working for pocket money, so it's a term that will not give the right professional impression you want to make to a prospective nanny employer.
Here in the UK, if you care for a child sole-charge all day or part-day then you're a nanny. Your role might be part-time for just one or two days a week, or ad-hoc as and when required, or a temporary assignment, but you're still a nanny and not a babysitter so please don't confuse the two on your nanny CV.
Au-pair means Nanny in South Africa but not in the UK. An Au-pair in the UK is typically a young person who comes to learn the language, and lives with the family to work alongside the parent for pocket money and boarding. They do not have much responsibility and are not considered as professional, so please change that job title if that expression has been used erroneously on your CV!
The word child-minder is often used to mean a nanny in Ireland and the USA but is a different job to the requirements of being a nanny in the UK. You may have lots of experience with little ones and children in a nursery workplace but none in a private home, and this can be an issue for some parents who feel the role of a nanny is distinctly different from a nursery environment. One way to get over this is to jump straight into as many weeks of short term temporary nanny work as you can in order to gain nannying experience, which will be invaluable for preparing yourself to be a competent nanny in the UK. However, if you have a two-year Visa you may not be able to do this for very long and you may find that you don't have enough time left on your Visa as most permanent nanny positions are offered by parents looking for someone to stay with them for at least two or three years.
Antipodean nannies are very popular in the UK, however whereas nannies work from about 18 years of age in Australia and New Zealand, nannies in the UK are commonly accepted by families from around twenty-two years of age. Nannies younger than this in the UK may not have gained the amount of experience parents generally require, but may find work as a live-in nanny, trainee nanny or junior nanny.
Nanny's duties: what does a nanny do all day?
A Nanny works inside the family home caring for the children in their charge, offering them a safe, encouraging, and nurturing atmosphere while attending to all their everyday needs. Planning the days to be stimulating, educational and include fun activities and outings.
Nannies are not expected to perform household duties for adults. However some nannies may be happy to shop for the family, walk the dog, or agree to do similar duties by prior arrangement.
In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, nannies tend to have a more flexible and relaxed approach to their nanny duties and this is very welcomed by many families in the UK. While Nannies from the USA or Canada may be used to doing all housekeeping duties as part of being a nanny should find the reduced duties in the UK quite a refreshing change!
Meet other nannies in London
There's a thriving community of nannies in London and a wide diversity from many different countries, so life working as a nanny in the capital should not be lonely. Agencies can put you in touch with other childcare professionals for play-dates, and it's easy to meet other people with children. There are lots of vibrant nanny areas with cafes, shops and parks and you'll never be at a loss for things to do with or without your charges.