Originally posted here, on the INA blog.
Nanny Interview and Job Search Tips
What people see and how we look gives others a first impression of us. How can what we wear impact how others treat us? Take a look at this Leave it to Beaver clip and the impression Dudley has on the Cleaver family. Each person forms preconceived ideas of Dudley based on what he is wearing.
On a daily basis, nannies of young children must be able to get on the floor and be active with young children. How we dress should not impede us from doing our duties with children. Our dress and accessories should never create a safety hazard for ourselves or the children in our care. Additionally, some practical sense should be observed when traveling with children, engaging in outdoor adventure activities and participating in messy play. As you work with children, your clothing should continue to cover body parts and absolutely limit overexposure. Ladies should avoid low cut shirts and pants. Gentlemen should avoid low cut or sagging pants. Jewelry that could be choking hazards should be left outside the child’s environment if possible. Most of the time closed toe shoes or shoes with a back are safer when actively engaged in outdoor activities.
Employers may have specific dress codes or suggestions when attending specific events outside the home. As with any profession, it is important to abide by the rules and policies set by employers and those in authority positions.
When going on a nanny interview with potential families or attending professional development trainings such as the INA Annual Conference, a professional business attire is typically the best course of action to demonstrate professionalism. Grooming should also be more than a passing thought. Be sure clothes are clean, free from stains, pressed and fit your body. Avoid clothing that is too tight and too revealing. Moderation is key.
Although no one wants to be judged on their appearances alone, what others see first does make an impression. So in addition to your appearance, your actions speak volumes about your professionalism, ethics and values. Parents want nannies to demonstrate high moral values and conduct themselves with dignity and integrity. They want the best caring for their children.
Everyone knows that little eyes are always watching us too. Young children pick up on what you say and do even when you might not think they are aware. Modeling appropriate behaviors both inside the home or eye shot of young children is a given. Did you know that even in your private life outside of work others are watching you? Yes, others are always watching. Like it or not nannies are held to a higher standard than many other professions. Since you care for and teach children, society views your actions to be fair game for others to critique. This may not seem fair that what you do in your off time is criticized. But, this is the reality.
Moving on from your appearance to your interactions with others, let’s examine some general tips on being a positive person and getting along with others:
- Be more tolerant and less of a judge. Everyone has their quirky habits. What is “Normal” to you may not be “Normal” to me!
- Respect differences! Sometimes it is best to stay quiet in situations and less is more.
- It is best to model appropriate behaviors to children. They are watching you and taking cues from how you react to situations, speak to others, tone of speech and body language.
- Don’t offer up your life story to a stranger in the elevator or spill all of your disappointments, tragedies and negative attitudes to anyone who is around especially employers.
- When someone asks in passing, “How are you today?” they usually do not really want to know your every ache and pain.
- Those sayings that Grandma used way back when — still apply! “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
- Try to listen to the other person’s perspective.
- Write down compromises and post on refrigerator when trying to resolve conflicts.
- If it is not yours, then don’t take it/use it/abuse it/ consume it/…
The main concern is how children interpret our actions and
how we model appropriate behaviors.
You may not be Mary Poppins flying in for your interview but try to set yourself apart from other nannies interviewing for a family. Focus on your positive attributes and sell yourself by providing examples of your work, an exit portfolio, written testimonials from past clients.