What Every Nanny Should Know About The Reference Letter

August 23, 2016

You’ve worked for your current employer for almost a decade and you’re preparing to move on to another position. It’s been years since you’ve looked at your resume or even thought about seeking a new job.

A nanny friend advises you to make sure your current and past employers provide you with a reference letter. She stresses that the nanny reference letter is just as important as your experience and background checks. Why?

In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can create an effective nanny reference letter and the reason why it is so important.

Why Is The Reference Letter Important?

Parents will expect a great child care provider to have multiple references and be happy to provide them. They offer a piece of mind that background checks alone can’t.

During our interview with Stephanie Felzenberg, an experienced nanny and editor of BeTheBestNanny.com, she explained that a background check doesn’t do much other than provide information about a prospective nanny’s criminal history, it doesn’t provide parents with information about mental health or character. A resume or background check doesn’t tell parents who you really are.

What Should a Nanny Reference Letter Include?

Aside from you work history, the letter should speak about your character and relationship with the children.

Where you organized? What were your strengths and weaknesses? Were you an asset to the family?

The letter should help parents determine whether or not to hire you, instead of hiring another nanny.

Here are some sample questions employers could answer in your reference letter

  • How long did the nanny work for you?
  • Was the nanny reliable? Did she keep her commitments?
  • Was she late or did she have to call off often?
  • Where the children excited for the nanny to come?
  • Did the children like spending time with her?
  • Was she warm and nurturing with the children?
  • Was the safety of the children ever an issue?
  • Did she show good judgment and confidentiality of family matters?
  • Was she respectful your family’s lifestyle and traditions even if they were different to hers?
  • Did she prepare healthy meals and snacks?
  • Was she willing to openly communicate about the child?
  • Did she have any job responsibilities other than caring for the children, such as cooking or cleaning?
  • Were there any issues with following the household rules?
  • What stood out as her biggest strength?
  • Is there anything you feel I should know about this candidate?
  • Would you hire her again?

sources: Helping Parents Write Letters of Reference for Their Nannies & How to Check Nanny References

How to Ask for a Reference Letter

Whether you’re contemplating leaving an employer on your own or contacting a past employer, you may feel awkward about requesting a letter of reference. During the episode of The Advance Show above, host Brian Dixon provided some helpful advice on asking for a letter of reference or recommendation. In the video he said:

Your future employer wants to know 3 things

  1. “Does this person have the skills?”
  2. “Is this someone I can trust?
  3. “Is this someone other people like?”

A great recommendation letter answers all three of these questions.

Brian then spoke on tactfully reaching out to past employers, “Some of your best recommendation letters are going to come from people you haven’t worked with in a while, instead of just reaching out and asking for a recommendation letter… warm up the relationship.”

“Try your best to stay in contact with past employers by way of emails or phone calls. Don’t only call when you need something.”

Brian continued “Provide a template… provide them (past employer) with the perfect letter that you would love them to personalize and sign… if you don’t use a template, you may get an awesome recommendation letter that you can’t use.”

Once you have the letter, thank your past employer and try and keep an ongoing relationship with them.


Your reference letter is just as important as your experience, qualifications or degree. It verifies your work experience. Once you have it if you receive a hard copy, why not have it notarized and scanned, this will definitely convey a level of professionalism to future employers. In addition, an electronic copy that you have saved in email or hard drive is a good backup in the event that you loose the physical letter.

Keep in mind that in the child care industry, your reference letter is invaluable. Sometimes it will be the only thing that provides proof of past employment and will determine if parents will hire you.

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