How to find the right nanny

Learn more about ways to find the right nanny, from the job description to where to look to interviewing to checking references.

Writing a job description

Find the right nanny for your little one

Find the right nanny for your little one

The first steps to finding the right nanny is to write out a job description. This forces you to think about what exactly you need from a caregiver to your children. The description does not need to be long, but it does need to convey the basics about the position as well as sell your household as a great place to work. There are several things you should cover:

  1. Headline: This should be a short yet descriptive sentence that conveys the essence of the position. It’s a good idea to mention whether the job is full or part time, how many children you have, and your general location. The headline will help potential applicants quickly determine if the job might be a good fit.
  2. Family Description: Briefly describe your family. Adding a personal touch here can help make your job posting stand out.
  3. Start Date: When would you like the nanny to start?
  4. Job Responsibilities: Mention if you have other requirements such as housekeeping, food preparation, shopping, or driving.
  5. Ideal Characteristics: List the qualities you would like in an ideal candidate such as having childcare experience or being CPR certified, bilingual, or licensed to drive.
  6. Pay: If you are familiar with market rates for nannies in your area and comfortable paying that (or more), you will get more interest in your job posting if you list a weekly or hourly wage. Otherwise, say that pay depends on experience.
  7. References: Always ask applicants to be ready to provide references. This will speed up the process for good candidates and deter bad ones.

Where to find a nanny

There are many different ways to find a good nanny. The best place for you to look depends on the amount of time, money, and effort you’re willing to spend on the search. The most common methods of finding a nanny are:

  1. Nanny Agencies: These companies will, for a fee, play match maker and help you find qualified nannies that fit your needs.

    • Agencies will prescreen applicants for you and provide personalized advice during the seach.
    • The agency will do most of the heavy listing to find a good nanny. You tell them your needs and desired qualifications, and they will find suitable candidates.
    • This can often be the quickest method to find qualified nannies.


    • They are expensive. Agency fees can equal up to 15% of your nanny’s annual salary.
  2. Nanny Websites: Dedicated nanny sites such as and have online job boards where you can post your nanny opening and browse the profiles of prospective nannies.

    • Inexpensive. You can often search for available nannies and view profiles for free. To post a job or contact a nanny, you generally have to pay up to $35 a month.
    • These sites typically do perform some kind of background checks on registered nannies.
    • Convenient. You can browse nanny profiles and create your job posting any hour of the day.
    • Search filters help you narrow down the potential candidates based on the criteria you chose.


    • Can be time-consuming. You may have to sift through a number of applicants before you find one worth bringing in for a formal interview.
    • Applicants are not prescreened. While these sites do offer background checks, there is no human being helping to weed out unqualified applicants.
  3. Online Classified: General purpose sites, such as Craig’s List offer free places to post a nanny opening and find nannies looking for work.

    • Most often free to post openings and search for nannies looking for work.
    • You can get a large number of responses very quickly.
    • Convenience. These sits are available 24-7.


    • Background checks are not offered. You will have to find an third party service if you want a background check completed.
    • As these sites attract a large audience, you may need to spend a lot of time weeding through the applicants.
    • Applicants don’t have profiles that allow for easy comparision of qualifications. You may need to contact potential candidates by phone or email to gather basic information.
  4. Neighborhood Bulletin Boards: A great way to find a local nanny is through bulletin boards in nearyby churches, colleges, libraries, and grocery stores and either post your job or look for a “Seeking Employment” section.

    • These posting boards are generally free.
    • You know you’ll be dealing with people that live locally.


    • You’ll have to do background checks on your own.
    • Finding these bulletin boards can take time and there is no guarantee of postings for nannies.
  5. Word of Mouth: Don’t underestimate the reach of your personal network. Talk to your friends and neighbors to see if they (or their friends) know of anyone looking for work as a nanny.

    • It’s free.
    • You may be able to find a candidate that comes with a personal recommendation from someone you know.


    • You are on your own for background checks.

Nanny interviewing tips

Picking the right person to care for your child is an important decision. Don’t cut any corners here. Follow the Rule of Three:

  1. Interview at least three people: Even if you find someone great during the first interview, talk to a few other applicants. You may find someone even better, or at the very least, you can confirm the first candidate is the right choice.
  2. Conduct three interviews:The first should be a phone screen. Next, bring the top candidates in for a short in-person interview. Lastly, bring the top one or two potential nannies in for a “practice run” where she gets ample time to interact with your children.
  3. Three interviewers should be involved: You count as one. Your child(ren) count as number two. It’s important to see if they are comfortable with the new nanny. For the third, get at least one other trusted adult, whether it is your spouse, significant other, or even a close friend.

Checking references

Checking on your nanny’s references is one of the last things you should do before offering the job, but don’t underestimate its importance. The mere fact of you asking for references is going to eliminate some questionable candidates from even applying, but you do not want to cut corners choosing someone that will be spending a great deal of time with your child.

While contacting a reference through email is better than nothing, a phone call is a much better choice. First of all, it is very easy for an applicant to fake a reference through email. Second, you can miss out on vital cues that can assist your decision. For example, when you ask the reference if the applicant did a good job, the reference might hesitate and then unconvincingly say yes. Over email, you wouldn’t get these signals that the reference has some reservations, but doesn’t want to ruin the applicant’s chance at a new job.

Next step: Creating a nanny contract