Friday, August 7, 2015

All the Agency Rage

  In early June when Ex-MomBoss and I had that final conversation, where she told me she decided to stay home with the boys, I didn't know a lot of what the future would hold.

The one thing that I did know was that I was going to use a Nanny Agency. 

In some ways I have been in the nanny field for many years. In other ways I am a newcomer to the dynamics that come with being a professional nanny. Every family that I have ever worked for has been either for a family that I had an acquaintance with or had a mutual friend that recommended the job. So going cold turkey and looking for a job with a family that I didn't know and didn't know me - it is something that I wanted to take to the professionals. 

That is where the agency comes in. 
They are the professionals. 

So what is a Nanny Agency?
An agency is a business that connects families looking for a nanny with nannies looking for a family. 
It can be a company as small as a one person team or a large company with dozen people on the team. The primary function of an agency is to connect a family and nanny together. A great agency will try to find a perfect match for nanny and family.

How Does it Work?
Knowing that I wanted to work with an agency I started the process of looking. Basic questions of how do I find an agency, which agency should I work with, and do I have to pay to work with an agency all ran through my mind. With a quick Google search the answers were pretty simple to find.

My first step was to go local – I looked into all the agencies in the Seattle area.
I looked at reviews from both families and nannies for each agency and the picked 4 that seemed like they would be a good fit and professional.

Each (Seattle) agency had an online application that needed to be filled out. Based on that online application the agency then got in touch with me (if I met their qualifications). Most of the qualifications were basic: 2 years as nanny, CPR/First aid certified, and a decent driving record.

From there it is a waiting game. As a general rule of thumb even if you fill out an online application always follow up with, at the very least, an email with an attached cover letter and resume. I filled out 4 online applications from Agencies A, B, C, & D. Sent 2 follow up emails on the ones that I wanted to work with most and let the waiting game begin.


What Happens Next (For Me Anyways)
The rest of this is my experience, not necessarily the norm for the process.

After emailing Agencies A & B I asked a fellow nanny and friend to email Agency B (she worked with them to get her current NannyFamily) - to get my name circulating. Within 4 days I heard from both of these agencies and had about a 15 minute "get to know you" phone conversation, both ending with setting up a time to come in and meet the person in charge of matching nanny/family. Sometime before the interview I needed to fill out part 2 of the application which each agency emailed me.

A week later I heard from Agency C but declined an interview and never heard from Agency D.

Application Part 2
 Each online application had the same basic questions asking for the Nanny's personal information, work experience, desired job details, salary, and several 'get to know the nanny' questions.

The 2nd part of the applications was more in-depth for both of the agencies I applied with.

Agency A's application went a little deeper than their online application, asking basic disciplinary style, describing different scenarios, and more about what the nanny wants in their potential nanny family.

Agency B had a deeper 2nd application in fact it had 4 parts to it. It asked 2 pages worth of get to know the nanny and parenting style type questions. It also included 2 different quizzes relating to parenting styles and personality - which both nanny and family takes.

Once this part of the application was completed it needed to be emailed back to the agency before the interview, including any references and recommendation letters.

In Person Interview
The day of my interviews arrived. I set them both up for the same day since I had to take a PTO day for them. Being nervous and an over planner I arrived 30 minutes early to the first interview, found a little cafe across the street and then headed over about 15 minutes before my interview slot time. I brought my cover letter, resume, application, references, and recommendation letters with me to both interviews. It was a little over kill, if I do another interview I will bring only the resume, references, and recommendation letters.

Agency A was my first interview - I walked into a well decorated office - greeted by a friendly receptionist and brought back to a meeting room. The lady I was to meet with was still with someone while I waited they asked me to fill out more paper work. About 5 minutes after my appointment time the interviewer came in - very friendly apologizing for running a little late. We sat down chatted some about what was on my application, my experience, what I was looking for, and when I was looking to start. I mentioned wanting to start work on August 10th due to a mini sabbatical I was taking.

After finishing the interview she asked me to touch base when I got back in town because they couldn't do any further interviews until I was in person. My hopes of finding a job by August 10th was not going to happen with this agency (since I was getting in town a few days before that date). They were not open to doing phone or Skype interviews with potential families for me.

With an hour to kill between interviews I headed over to where Agency B was, scoped out the place and then found another cafe to have breakfast at. I headed over about 10 minutes before the interview was greeted by the lady who was interviewing me - we sat down at her desk. She apologized for not having a chance to fully read over my application and we worked I way through it together. This interview had much more a professional vibe to it. I was able to ask more questions I had about taxes & pay, scheduling, what the going salary is for one of their nannies, and other business questions I had. The interviewer was very knowledgeable and made me feel very comfortable asking her questions.

At the end of the interview she gave me a small check list of things I needed to obtain before an interview could happen (driving record, CPR/first aid certs, etc). She informed me they would start matching me up with families and encouraged me that they would be able to find a match by August 10th. Phone and Skype interviews were encouraged. I left feeling excited about this agency, what they could offer me, and the prospect of finding a family that would be a great fit.


When all was said and done, I knew that using an agency was the right choice for me. Why?
Besides the simple fact of that it was easier to go through an agency than try to find jobs on my own, they are my advocate. A good agency understands the value of a good nanny. They fight for their nannies rights and professional treatment of their nannies. They know the going rate for each city, including variables that come with a job: number of kids, area, hours worked, etc. They encourage and educate families to treat a nanny as the employee they are; with respect, dignity, including benefits that most jobs offer.

A good agency does their research and in the process helps us as nannies to get the best possible job out there. If you are between jobs or not happy with your current one I would encourage you to take the few hours it will require - research the agencies within your area and see what can happen. Most likely it will mean higher pay with better benefits. If you don't feel you can be your own advocate let then an agency just might be what you need.

Editor's Note: I wrote this solely based on my experience. I haven't found many articles on the agency process, with that in mind I wanted to write something that might help nannies that are new to the experience - like I was. I am not advocating any one agency and realize their are some not great agencies to work with. It is your responsibility as a nanny to weed out that all out.

ceconner© 8.7.2015

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