Every nanny job is destined to end at some point. Children age, families need change and sometimes nannies decide it’s time to move on and seek out new opportunities. That’s just the way the industry works. However, just because every job is guaranteed to end doesn’t mean that the end has to be a bad one. It’s almost always possible to end employment on amicable terms, even friendly ones, that can benefit your long-term career goals. Some jobs, though, end badly, whether that means termination, resignation or tension between the nanny and family. If you find yourself struggling with finding a way to put a bad nanny job in context, especially when talking to potential employers about it, consider these methods for putting a positive spin on events.
“We ultimately realized our visions weren’t compatible.”
This is the politest way to say that you and your former employer didn’t get along. There are, of course, a hundred ways this might have played out. Maybe what seemed like a great job at the beginning turned sour when your employer grew more strict and less forgiving of your hours or performance. Maybe there were communication problems that became impossible to solve. Maybe your vision of childcare and discipline didn’t square with the family’s, and you found yourselves on opposite sides of a wall. These and other things can lead to a bad or uncomfortable end for a nanny position, but that doesn’t mean you have to sell it that way. Talk to future employers about why you and your previous employer didn’t see eye to eye, and engage them in a dialogue about goals and best practices. That way you know you’ll be on the same page when you start work.
“The position was a fantastic learning experience.”
This is always true — every job teaches you something, no matter how small the lesson or how briefly you were there — but it’s especially helpful if you’re looking to provide an upbeat context to a job that ended badly. During your interview process, talk to nanny agencies and/or families about what you took away from a job that went south. For instance, if your previous employer grew distant and vague with directions, talk about how much importance you place on open and honest communication between the parent and nanny. If you were fired, this is also a good way to be frank about the method of your departure while simultaneously positioning your exit as a chance to get better at your job. It doesn’t make sense to try and hide the fact that you were fired, if that’s the case. It’s much better to be honest about what happened and use that to demonstrate your willingness to improve.
“Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my professional goals since then.”
Sometimes there’s no getting around a job you held for just a short while, especially if you’re using a chronological resume that tends to highlight quick jobs or gaps in employment. As such, a great way to give these jobs some heft, especially if they ended on a low note, is to talk about the way they’ve impacted your professional goals and your awareness of how you like to work and what you look for in a hiring family. Remember, a nanny job interview is all about you: who you are and what you can provide. If one of your old jobs ended badly, use that as an opportunity to direct the focus back to your accomplishments and growth.
“Here’s how I want to avoid potentially rocky situations in the future”
Job interviews aren’t just about skills; they’re about fit. You’re interviewing the family as much as they’re interviewing you, so there should be plenty of give and take on both sides. Ask questions about what they’re looking for in a caregiver, and talk frankly about what you learned from bad jobs and what you’d like to see implemented in future ones to avoid those situations. Think of it as a way to set professional boundaries at an early stage.
You will, at some point in your career, deal with a job that goes badly. It’s practically a guaranteed part of every industry. However, that doesn’t mean your career has to be defined by one or two bad experiences. And while you never want to lie about why a job ended badly, with the right perspective and polish every blemish can become a beauty mark.