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We're often asked by prospective applicants coming to work in London as a nanny with little ones as to what childcare options there are in London, what documents they should bring to register with a London nanny agency, how long it will take to get a job, and what they ought to expect as they proceed with looking for nanny work in London.
Many of those candidates will be arriving from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I recently carried out a question and answer session for the Australian Association of Nanny Agencies, Australian nannies working overseas, and as a result I've gained a pretty good idea of the common questions and concerns that many of our overseas nannies often raise, so I will try to address these issues to help you come prepared to London with the right documents and armed with some useful information about what to expect. I hope this information will make getting work through a nanny agency service in London so much easier for you.
Firstly, begin to try to do your research while you're still in your home country, and use the internet to get a list of nannies agencies in London. Find out on-line what each agency requires as a minimum standard to register with them and send an expression of interest to each of your short listed London agencies. Most agencies will at minimum 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.
You will also need to bring an up-to-date Police Check from your country such as the Queensland Government Blue Card or you have a Working With Children Check clearance (WWC) number. When you have been in the UK for six months you will be able to apply for an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
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Most London nanny agencies will ideally require that you have an up-to-date Paediatric First Aid card. Although it is not essential to be qualified in order to apply for some nanny jobs, e.g. temporary nanny jobs, but if you have a childcare, teaching, or nursing certificate it will be an advantage and you should bring your up-to-date original with you. You will need a portfolio with all these documents neatly filed inside, plus copies of any nanny employment references. These can be from families or nurseries/schools that you've previously held a nanny position for. In addition, your portfolio can contain originals of any certificates of attendance or short courses that you may have gained, provided they can be related to nannying, e.g. safeguarding, food-hygiene, swimming instruction, music teaching, or anything else relevant to a job with little ones. It's important to be clear that all nanny agencies will require originals of any documentation, and photocopies are very unlikely to be accepted.
You will also 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 for any reputable agency, and you should know that most families will want to contact your ex-employers if you are short listed. Therefore, it is polite to always inform your ex-employers that they may receive a phone call and/or email from agencies in London and families so they can expect such communications. Nannying agencies are used to working with the time differences between various countries/continents and will normally email an ex-employer in the first instance to arrange a convenient time to speak. It's typical for agencies and families to contact at least two ex-employers and it's very important that these are nanny related jobs! For example, there is very little point in contacting the owner of a local coffee shop where you may have been working as a server!
You should 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.
A good CV will help you go a long way with finding either permanent or temporary nanny work in London, and should be sent to your selected agencies before you even arrive in the UK. Most agencies services will not be able to meet you in person at this stage nor register you or forward you to parents, but a good CV will get you an appointment and get the ball rolling for you. Nannies work in London is very competitive so the more advantages you have the better.
Your CV should be divided into clear consistently formatted sections and have your most recent job at the top and then work backwards to your first employment. Families do not care if you are a qualified neurosurgeon or an astronaut, what they want to see is your childcare experience. Therefore, 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! In fact, such information is highly likely to detract from the childcare focus required for nannying. Families will want to see that 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, and if have been in a fixed-term temporary nanny booking then you should highlight these positions as such.
Divide 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 duties' and 'your reason for leaving' each role. The CV is really all you have to sell yourself in the first instance so use the duties description well and make sure the employer is aware of your skills, abilities, and knowledge of child care and development. For example, if you have experience of caring for little ones you can talk about the introduction of weaning, 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. There is no point writing 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 that you cook healthy meals from scratch and that you are happy to wrap up and get outdoors in all weathers.
Are you seeking a live-in nanny job, a live-out nanny job? Will you be looking for a full-time or part-time position? permanent or Temporary nanny work?
There should be a summary paragraph at the top of your CV so the employer can gain a quick overview of you, such as what type of nanny employment you're looking for, whether you're seeking a live-in nanny position or live-out job, full-time or part-time. Would you consider a temporary nanny job or only permanent nannying. If you have an Ancestry Visa, for instance, or a UK passport and you're seeking permanent work you can state this here and write that you're looking to work as a nanny long term (if that is in fact the case), as most parents tend to select a nanny that will stay as long as possible, and parents often want an engagement of at least two or three years.
Finally, It's best not to write 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 tangible facts that will demonstrate your nanny skills, ability and experience for the job. This can just as easily be presented with short bullet point statements as per the example below:
Nannies work culture differences can vary, so to avoid under-selling yourself you will need to understand what is meant as a nanny in London!
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, say, a dinner in the 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 young girl working for pocket money, so it's a term that will not give the right professional impression you will want to make!
If you care for a child sole-charge all day or part-day then you are a nanny. You might be a part-time nanny, if it's just one or two days a week, or an ad-hoc nanny if the requirement is to work just every now and then, or a temporary nanny, but you are still a nanny and not a babysitter so please make sure this is clear on your nanny CV.
Au-pair means Nanny in South Africa but not in the UK. An Au-pair is typically a young person who comes to learn the language, lives with the family and works alongside the parent for pocket money. They do not have much responsibility and are not considered as a professional nanny in the UK, 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 this 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. One way to get over this is to jump straight into as many weeks of short term temporary nannies work in London as you can in order to gain private home 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 do not have enough time left on your Visa as most permanent nanny positions are offered by parents looking for nannies in London to stay in their employment for at least two or three years.
Antipodean nannies are very popular in the UK and it should be fairly easy to find Nannies work in London, 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 nanny work in London as a live-in nanny, trainee nanny or junior nanny, temporarily or permanently.
What Are Typical Nanny duties in the UK?
What does a nanny do all day? A nanny carries out nursery duties only for the children in their charge, whether the post is a temporary nanny position or permanent nanny position, and do not generally perform household cleaning or adults laundry. Nannies from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa tend to have a more flexible relaxed approach to 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 and they should find the reduced duties quite a refreshing change!
It would be sensible to plan that you have enough money to not rely on immediate nanny employment and be prepared to possibly wait longer than you may expect. Firstly, you will need to send your nanny CV to the agencies you looked up before arriving in the UK. Most nanny agency services in London will want at least two years childcare experience and checkable references to back this up. Then you will need to have your CV short-listed by families for interview, and applying for a jobs may be more competitive than you imagined. There are lots of nannies looking for work in London and families will often short-list then interview quite a few applicants. The parents will then 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 will normally be paid monthly, not weekly, so do be prepared for this too. It is easier for nannies in London to get temporary nanny work, part time nanny work, shared care (parent at home) and live in nanny work, as the four and five day nanny jobs are generally harder to secure.
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 is 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.
Interviews with families usually last around an hour. Research the address before you set off to your interview and always make sure you have more than enough time to find the address and allow for traffic problems when travelling. 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 the children. It's probably best not to ask about holidays, or talk about salary too much at a first interview! If you are 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 do not use an agency but use an on-line nanny site you will not have the benefit of experienced advice and support, or the after-care service provided by agencies. Therefore, it's usually best to use an agency service as although most families are wonderful you can occasionally come across those that will perhaps want you to cut corners when it comes to your employment rights, and if you're not too experienced and not using a provided by nanny agency service then you may not recognise this until it is too late!
There is a thriving community of nannies in London and a wide diversity from many countries, so life working as a nanny in the capital should not be lonely. A good nanny service will help put nannies in touch with each other for play-dates etc if requested, and it's easy to meet other people with children. There are lots of vibrant nanny areas with Cafes, shops and parks and you will not be at a loss for things to do with or without your charges.
Hope you found these suggestions for finding nanny work in London useful.
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