Tuesday, 4 June 2013

"I need a new challenge"...career choices for nannies

This is an issue nannies sometimes discuss with me.  There is no obvious career path although experience often leads to positions with better conditions or to working overseas, possibly for the 'rich and famous'.  I can't help them find work in different fields because our agency specialises in the placement of nannies, but it is sometimes helpful to talk over options.

We have nannies who have worked part-time while studying for qualifications in another field eg midwifery, welfare and aged care.  Other nannies have gone on to work as personal assistants, in sales, and in recruitment agencies both for nannies and more generally, and of course, the field for which they are perhaps best trained, as mothers themselves!

It is helpful to look at some of the areas in which nannies excel, and  which can be applied to other occupations.  These include:
  • Ability to plan.  It is no easy task to look after one or two children, plan appropriate developmental and interesting activities for them as well as managing their physical care, sleeps, outings etc and still have the house looking tidy when the parents return from work.  Planning is a skill that can be transferred to most workplaces and means you should be able to undertake a variety of tasks and still complete them on time.
  • Good communication and relating skills.  As a nanny you are involved in communicating not just with the children in your care but also with their parents and possibly a range of other people also involved in the lives of the children: doctors, teachers, Maternal and Child Health nurses, other parents.  As I have said before, good communication skills are essential for nannies: listening, clarifying, explaining, negotiating, simplifying, stating your own needs and respecting the needs of others  With good skills in these areas, many occupations working with people open up, particularly in sales, and with further training most of the 'caring' professions eg nursing, teaching, personnel work.
  • Patience.  Being with children for 10-12 hours a day can be very wearing and really test your patience and stress levels.  If you can handle this with good humour and without becoming stressed, you are in an excellent position to work in high stress jobs like call centres, customer service departments and reception counter work.
  • Maturity.  Most nannies work alone with children which means that they have to have the maturity to make decisions when there is no one else to ask, whether it is about the everyday competing demands of the different children in their care or in an emergency.  This maturity and the commonsense it displays means that nannies are well suited to working in jobs where constant supervision is not available.
  • Honesty and reliability. These are primary requirement for working as a nanny in someone else's house and so that parents are free to pursue their careers.  These are qualities that most employers seek and roof of a good attendance record may help when you are looking for work. 
Apart from parenting, or working in a childcare centre or as a family day care provider, there are few jobs that a nanny can walk into without additional training.  Office skills including typing and IT skills may open paths into various forms of office work.  Entering the caring professions like various forms of nursing, teaching and social welfare work require a variety of certificates, diplomas and degrees so you will need to make a long-term plan if you want to move into these areas.

There must be many nannies who have made the transition to other occupations. Feedback from them would be very helpful for those starting to feel they need a change, and for me as I talk with these nannies.

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