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How to Hire a Babysitter Online

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Check out a child care expert's top tips.

couple looking anxiously online for a babysitter

Sittercity CEO Genevieve Thiers: Hiring a babysitter used to be such a simple process: plan a night out, call the neighborhood girl to come over, pay her a few dollars an hour, and enjoy your evening. But with today's caregivers undergoing special training, putting together detailed resumes, citing professional references, and actively seeking jobs online, child care is no longer confined to the cul-de-sac.

To simplify the increase in options, convenience, and technology, you need a clear plan for how to hire caregivers online. Child care expert Genevieve Thiers shares with us an effective method to landing the perfect caregiver through the convenience of the Web.

  1. Find a credible online sitter source.
    "The Internet is a fantastic place to find sitters and nannies -- as long as you're using a safe, reputable website," Thiers says. She tells parents to look for a service that has a free search tool so you can try it before you buy, has tons of local sitters (to give them plenty of options), offers features such as background checks and online reviews from other parents, is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau, and receives excellent feedback in the media and on impartial blogs. Sittercity.com, for example, is the nation's largest and most trusted online sitter source, meeting that criteria and more.

  2. Post your job online.
    While you always have the option to conduct a search and browse through sitter profiles, it's even better to post a job and let the sitters come to you. "The best time to post a job is 2-4 weeks before the job date," says Thiers. "This helps ensure that you have time to screen the sitters carefully." In that job posting, include the job date, time, number of children, city/town you live in, whether or not you have pets, and the required responsibilities (such as cooking dinner). For recurring and long-term positions, you might also want to let the sitter know if you often get stuck at work or if you travel enough that you might need an overnight sitter. And don't forget your contact information!

  3. Check a sitter's online reviews.
    The top child care websites allow both parents and sitters to leave reviews for each other. Once you've received sitter applications, look at the sitters' profiles to see what those reviews say. Is the sitter especially good with newborns? Will she care for a sick child so you don't have to take another day off work? Online sitter profiles and reviews reveal all of this information right up front, so you don't have to waste any time analyzing the applicants and wondering how they'd behave on the job.

  4. Conduct in-person interviews.
    As sitters respond to your job posting, choose 3-5 sitters to interview in person. The three big things you'll want to ask about are the sitter's experience/background, her approach to discipline, and what safety training she has. Keep in mind that the best interview questions are open-ended, such as "Tell me about a time when ..." And, if you can, keep your children around for a brief mother's-helper period, so you can get a feel for how the sitter and little ones interact.

  5. Check references.
    The typical babysitter will have two child care references, but first-timers may just use a parent or teacher. Either way, the babysitter should have no problem providing you with the phone number and e-mail address of references so you can contact them. (On Sittercity.com, that contact information can be found right on the sitter's online profile.) Checking references doesn't have to take long -- asking a few brief but important questions should get the job done:

    • What were Amy's best qualities?
    • How comfortable were you with her in charge?
    • How did your children like her?
    • What issues did you ever have with Amy?
    • Would you hire her again? Why or why not?

  6. Run a background check on your top choice.
    This final safety precaution will help give you more peace of mind about a sitter. "Child care sites should always offer background checks on their sitters," says Thiers, "and it should cost anywhere from $10 to absolutely nothing." Once you've picked your favorite sitter, keep two others on file as backups just in case your primary sitter can't make it to a job.
Join the Sittercity group in the momlogic community for your chance to win a one-month Sittercity membership.


next: Jennifer Hudson's Baby News Gives Hope
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Todd Mayers April 24, 2009, 11:24 AM

To run an instant backgorund check on your nanny please go to www.fullsearch.com

Samantha Marshall April 24, 2009, 3:54 PM

The author of this article (Genevieve Thiers) is the CEO of SitterCity.com. What a scam! I hope that SitterCity gets some public shaming for this dishonest self-promotion.

“Trusted online sitter source”? Laughable! What else aren’t they telling you?

Debbie April 27, 2009, 10:39 AM

Samantha, I’m sorry that sittercity put a bad taste in your mouth, but there are good sites out there where you can find a sitter.

Luz August 9, 2010, 6:51 AM


Hey,

Another common scam I receive through sittercity:

Glad to read from you and I feel comfortable discussing this opening as it concerns the comfort of my only child Debby.I’m coming down from Puerto Rico to your location for a 2 month inspection course with the Bureau of Investigation.Your location works out fine for me,hence you shall babysit Debby either at my rented suite or at your residence provided her comfort is guaranteed.I require you to contact your reference(s) and have them forward me a recommendation on you or you could provide me their contact email addresses so I could contact them.
I need you to understand that after the duration of this course I shall be heading back to my base with Debby for a promotion,so I need to perform excellently well in this course.This might limit my attention towards Debby hence the reason I’m employing you for this task.
Do you have fingerprints verified by the States?If YES you could provide me with the # for background & criminal record checks.If NO a review of application & recommendation from your reference(s) will do.Debby is only 2 years old.I would schedule you to care for her during weekdays only i.e Mondays through Fridays 3hrs daily 6pm-9pm.I’m offering $500 per week due to my budget.Will this work out?
The start date is August 20th but after my arrival on 19th,we will meet formally as earlier stated.
Get back immediately to me if you are satisfied with my offer so I could have all setup prior to my arrival with Debby.
I anticipate your response.
Thanks
L. Bester

dentysta białystok  December 21, 2010, 12:56 AM

I wish this article would never end.

analiza finansowa ściągi December 21, 2010, 3:27 PM

Yeah, cool posting. I’ll back here :)

Nicole January 4, 2011, 11:30 AM

Samantha,

How is it a “scam” if the author is completely up-front about who they are? She CLEARLY states at the beginning of the article (in bold letters, no less) that she is, in fact, the CEO of sittercity. Get a clue.


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