Our wonderful nanny will be leaving in September when our son begins full time school. How do we help her with a letter of recommendation?
The nanny's letter of recommendation from her former employer is an important part of her "Nanny Portfolio," a collection of materials including her resume, work history, educational certifications, and examples of her work that the nanny often uses to help 'sell' herself to prospective employers in the job interview. These letters are an important initial reference for families when they begin screening potential nannies.
When you write the nanny's letter of recommendation, it is important to remember that this letter is not a thank you note to the nanny for good service. Rather it is directed to the potential hiring family - a family with young children like yours who is trying to decide whether the nanny will be a competent, caring, and dependable child care choice for them. You are writing this letter parent to parent.
A letter of recommendation is typically organized as follows:
- A general salutation (Dear Sir or Madame) is typically used. You don’t know who will be reading this letter, and you want the nanny to be able to use it multiple times if necessary.
- State the basic facts – the dates of employment, the general hours worked, the ages and number of your children, her scope of responsibilities, whether she lived in or out. This serves to confirm the nanny's resume data. Compensation history is not part of a nanny's letter of recommendation.
- Next, choose three or four of your nanny's positive traits that meant the most to you as a parent. Describe your nanny's positive traits in typical sales "Feature" and "Benefit" terms. For example, your nanny was always punctual (the feature) so you were never late for important appointments, etc. due to tardiness (the benefit). Your nanny might have a take charge attitude (the feature) that allowed you to go about your business day without numerous interruptions and questions from the nanny (the benefit). Your nanny might have a very positive attitude and sunny disposition (the feature) that allowed her to deal with repetitive or difficult situations without ever being cross or discouraged (the benefit). It is helpful if you could provide a specific example of some, if not all, of the positive traits. For example:
"Mary is unfailingly cheerful and has a positive outlook on life. Our child is developmentally challenged, and day after day Mary enveloped him in encouragement, acceptance and love. Our child continues to achieve beyond our expectations, and, like Mary, never becomes discouraged. Mary's sunny disposition and positive attitude are a blessing to any child."
- It is helpful to describe why the employment ended and your regret in losing your valued nanny.
- Provide the parents with a way to contact you should they have further questions. You should leave either a telephone number or a permanent email address. Your physical street address is not required, nor is it recommended due to safety considerations.
- Always make sure the letter is signed and dated.
Changing jobs is stressful for a nanny, even more so when she is leaving a situation that she loves and where she knows she was appreciated. This letter really is a thank you to your nanny – one of the nicest ways you can put the final punctuation mark to your employment relationship.