By Fleur Coe


  • Ask first: A prepared referee usually gives the strongest recommendations. You want your referees to have time to think and reflect on your job roles and responsibilities, and how you performed. There’s nothing more awkward than being on the receiving end of a reference call you aren’t expecting.
  • Provide multiple contact options: Ask your referees for two methods of contact (e.g. cell phone and email) (also ask for their preferred) and the appropriate time to get in touch with them. Your potential employer will do their best to follow these.
  • Provide a written reference: Be sure that it includes the family’s contact details and is dated – We love reading letters from happy parents!
  • Keep records: When you worked for each family, what your main roles and responsibilities were, ages of kids when you started and finished. It is also a good idea to touch base every now and again with the most important references to make sure you have updated contact information.



  • Ask for a reference at an inappropriate time: It is only appropriate to ask for a reference when you (1) have given/received notice or (2) have been with a family for a while and are looking for supplemental work (like on-call or weekend work).
  • Send screen grabs of reviews from online babysitter websites: These aren’t verifiable and exclude important contact details and other information.
  • Fudge dates to try and hide a job that didn’t go well: It’s better to include it and be honest than to have your potential employer call the referees and be given different dates. The nanny and family have to be the right fit for a position to work out – sometimes it doesn’t and that’s ok.
  • Use your own family as references: even if the relationship was nanny/employer for a period of time, having your sister-in-law (for example) as a referee is inappropriate. You will need to source other references.
  • Use your current family as a reference when they don’t know you’re job hunting yet: This one is pretty self-explanatory 🙂 Treat your current employers with respect – you wouldn’t like showing up to work one day to see them interviewing another nanny! Sometimes nannies do job search before giving notice, but you’ll need to use previous families as your references until you have given notice.
  • Forget to thank them: Your references may have been glowing and all may have been favorable, but sometimes there are just more qualified applicants, or a position just isn’t the right fit. Regardless of the outcome, thank your referees personally and graciously for taking the time to speak on your behalf. There will be other positions in the future.​