The 5 best ways to get a part time job as a student

 

It’s tough being a student in London. Sometimes it seems like one long parade of things you can’t have. That great restaurant? You can’t afford it. That awesome coat? You can’t afford it. That night out? You definitely can’t afford it.  And when your troubles get beyond new clothes and start biting into your rent and food…. There’s only one thing for it: you need a part time job.   

Here are our top 5 tips to find one.

1.       Job boards  

Job boards are a great starting point for finding a part time student job. The main challenge is figuring out which one to try first – and then wading through all the options on it.

The granddaddy of all jobs boards is Indeed, where a new job is posted every 8 seconds. That represents a lot of opportunity for you, although it also means a lot of options to process. Luckily the interface is pretty user-friendly and you can apply for jobs with one click. It’s a bit ‘spray and pray’, and there’s certainly no guarantee that you’ll get a role, but if you’ve got the time it’s worth a go. Other good student job boards to check out include E4S and Student Job. Don’t forget your university job board, either—it’s a gold mine.

2.       Job apps

You’ve probably seen apps like TopTask and JobToday advertised on the Tube. These tend to offer short term/ad hoc work, mostly in the hospitality industry – for example, waitressing at an event. If you’d like total control over your hours they’re a good option, but it might be a lot of continual faff if you’re looking for something more recurrent.

3.       Apply directly  

If the thought of trawling through hundreds of job ads doesn’t appeal, you can always apply directly to companies who are filling roles. For example, if you’re interested in part time work after school looking after children, you could drop a line to Koru Kids, who train up students as after school nannies and match them with local families. You’re not competing with thousands of people for the job, since we'll take on as many qualified applicants as we can find. (The main requirements are that you have some childcare experience, and can commit for a few months.) Not into looking after children? Consider become a brand ambassador instead.

4.       Apply for jobs that aren’t listed

After a permanent role, and not finding what you want on the jobs boards?

It’s time to take it to the next level. Here’s the idea: Beginners apply for jobs that are listed. Winners apply for jobs that aren’t listed.

That might sound dumb. What’s the point asking for a job that doesn’t exist? But it’s actually a great strategy – as long as you target the right company at the right time.

The trick is to find fast growing businesses who value proactive employees. How do you find them? Easy. They advertise in places like WorkInStartups. The job ad they’ve placed might be for something you’re not capable of doing, but that doesn’t matter. If the company is hiring, it’s growing. And if it’s growing, they’ll be hiring for other roles soon—or now. Read the job ads to get a feel for the mission and culture of a few companies, noting down the ones you like.

Next, email the CEO of the company (it’s a startup, so you should be able to contact the CEO pretty easily) a really great cover note, telling them how much you love their mission and how much you want to work in a startup. Tell them what you can do, and attach your CV. Say you’ll work for free for a week to show them what you can do, with no obligation. (Worst case scenario – you’ll get some really useful work experience.)

The brilliant thing about this strategy is that you don’t have any competition, since no one else is applying for this job that doesn’t necessarily exist. (The drawback is that the job doesn’t necessarily exist.)

5.       Start your own business

If all else fails.  Why not? It worked for Richard Branson.

How to interview nannies

You’ve sifted through a bundle of CVs and shortlisted the nannies you’d like to meet.  Perhaps you’ve probably run interviews for your day job, and feel confident about interviews in that context.  But given it’s such an important decision who you’re going to entrust your kids and home to, here are some extra pointers.

We’ve focused on logistical suggestions, criteria, and asking questions so you hear more than just what the nanny thinks you want to hear.  You might also find it worthwhile to cast an eye over our previous blog: a nanny’s perspective on interviews.

Some logistical suggestions

You’re likely pressed for time. Perhaps you’re figuring out timings for returning to work, or finding alternative childcare having been left in the lurch.  If your shortlist is more like a longlist, you could use short calls to sense check your ranking of candidates and help you prioritise just two to interview.  If you’ve more than two great prospects after phone screening, you can always keep them warm in case you don’t find just the right fit during your first interviews.

Arrange a 45 – 60 min interview with each candidate.  Ask them to bring copies of their paperwork.  Experienced nannies will have a folder prepared, but those just starting out might benefit from some guidance about what you’re expecting to see.  At a minimum, you should ask to see evidence of their right to work in the UK, their most recent DBS (criminal background) check, any relevant qualifications to childcare (more details below, and see our blog Interpreting qualifications on a nanny's CV).

It’s worth outlining the interview format to the nanny at the start of the interview.  One tried and tested approach is to tell the candidate about your family and children, and what you consider the roles involves, before moving on to their experience and answers to questions.  Give the candidate plenty of opportunities to ask you questions—they’re interviewing you, too.

It’s important to see how the nanny interacts with the children, but if possible avoid having them around for the whole conversation (perhaps introduce them at the end). If you can, it’s great to invite the nanny for a second informal meeting or trial with the children.

In closing the interview,  let the candidate know what the next steps will be, and when they can expect to hear back from you.  Once they’ve left and before you rush onto the next thing, take five minutes to complete the criteria grid (more on that below) and jot down any other impressions you have of them. This reduces the risk of candidates all blurring together in your memory.

Criteria, a.k.a knowing what you’re looking for

Parents we speak to are often a bit coy when we ask they what the deciding factor was when choosing their nanny.  It seems they want to be able to describe a robust systematic approach to choosing a nanny but in actual fact their instinct kicked in and the decision came down to ‘a gut feel’.  To make sure you’re using both your heart and your head, it’s worth thinking beforehand about what you’re looking for.

Jotting this down ahead of time -- even preparing a grid so that you can give each candidate a score against each aspect (out of 5, accompanied by a few notes) -- will also give you something to refer back to when you’re deliberating. 

Below is a rundown of dimensions that various parents have shared with us. Of course, each family is different so think of this as inspiration rather than instruction.

Feel

  • Go with your instincts for this score.  You’ll get a sense of how kind, caring, gentle, engaged or playful you feel the nanny is, especially on interacting with the children

Basic requirements

Check all the basics are in place. Your list might include:

  • Y/N   Right to work in the UK. By law, nannies must have a passport and/or visa to demonstrate they can work in the UK
  • Y/N   Criminal background check, called a DBS
  • Y/N   Paediatric First Aid Certificate (valid for 3 years)
  • Y/N   Driving Licence if required
  • Y/N   Ofsted registration, if you’re planning to use childcare vouchers or taxfree childcare scheme
  • Y/N   English proficiency (spoken and written)

References

  • All nannies should be able to show you written references. It’s a good idea to check these verbally so that you can triangulate with their CV and interview answers, although you’ll generally only be able to do this after you’ve made the nanny an offer or are very close to doing so.

Qualifications

Years of experience

  • Experience is important. Consider it in terms of: relevant age range(s) (Newborn/ Toddler/ School age); level of responsibility (sole or shared care); and, if relevant, specialist needs like multiples or disabilities

Safety  

  • This is best assessed in the interview, using scenario questions (see below). You’re looking for a nanny who can assess risks and equip a child to navigate dangers

Understanding of, and ability to apply, Development Stages theory

  • It’s important for a nanny to be able to anticipate development stages, and support a child reaching milestones with appropriate activities

Views on discipline and handling difficult behaviour

  • You’ll have a preferred approach to boundaries, rewards, recognition and sanctions.  So it’s worth understanding the nanny’s default mode and repertoire to see if they’ll be able to help you achieve consistency

Level of initiative

  • You’re not always going to be on hand with an answer.  So get an understanding of how the nanny thinks. How will they get familiar with what’s on offer in your local area? How will they plan a nutritionally balanced menu, or an interesting project?

Communication effectiveness

  • Think about what you’d want in terms of daily updates, and whether this nanny would give you that. Also try to judge how receptive the nanny will be to feedback and direction.  What about when you’re in a hurry and talking quickly on the phone?

How to ask great interview questions

 

The most important skill in interviewing is to choose questions that will allow you to hear more than just what the nanny thinks you want to hear.

Think about three types of questions: fact finding questions; open questions, and scenario questions. 

Fact finding, or clarifying, questions are really to help you get your bearings.  Don’t worry about them being closed questions (i.e. generating yes/no answers).  You can use these while the nanny runs through their CV, to give you a fuller sense of the contexts of their work with previous families.  Examples:

     So you were with this family for 2 years…  what age were the children when you started?

     What were the hours you did for this family?

     What were your responsibilities relating to both the children and around the house?

You can also use this opportunity to get a better grip of what on earth their qualifications mean   

     How long was that course, and was it full time?

     What content did it cover?

     Was it all theory, or were there some practical or placement components?

The open question portion of the interview should be far less leading.  The intention here is to get the candidate to speak about specific examples from their past experience. Interviewees could feel awkward talking about seemingly mundane details, so it’s worth reassuring them that this is what you’re interested in hearing.  This is where you find out how they really behave, rather than talking in generalities or telling you what they think you want to hear. 

For each of the dimensions listed above, it’s worth prepping some questions.  A few examples are included below, but more can be found in these two blog posts: Interview Tips (specifically) for a Nanny Share and Nanny Interview Tips.

You’ve had some experience with toddlers.  Our youngest is 18 months, so we’re anticipating the terrible twos...  Could you talk me through the worst tantrum you’ve had to manage with a child you were looking after?

 In your last role you looked after two children who were 2 years apart.  What did a typical afternoon of activities look like, having picked the oldest one up from a morning at nursery?

 Can you tell me about a time when you were running late in the morning? What happened?

 Could you describe a time when you felt there was a breakdown in communication between you and the parents of a family?

The final type of questions are scenario based.  These are to try and understand how resourceful the candidate is, and how good they are at thinking on their feet.  Some can be thought experiments. (Imagine we were new to this area. How would you go about researching what baby and child activities are going on nearby?), while others can be situations that you set-up.  Tried and tested examples include asking them to do a quick risk assessment of the room you’re in, or take them to your fridge and store cupboard and ask them to suggest three meals that they could prepare from what you’ve got to hand.

Making a decision about childcare is always difficult.  But hopefully these interview tips have helped you along, and we're always happy to hear from you if we can help in any way.

Interpreting qualifications on a nanny’s CV

Plenty of great nannies have no formal qualifications.  Some parents take the view that the most important skills for a nanny are practical and emotional, and best garnered from experience.  Others feel that qualifications show that a nanny is serious about their profession, and that by knowing about stages of child development they can better anticipate and support a child through them.

Parents tend to pay most attention to qualifications during the selection process prior to the interview.  This is particularly the case for family with more specialised needs, such as a child with special educational needs or disabilities, maternity nursing for a newborn, or working with multiples.  All families will benefit from the nanny having up to date training on topics such as sleep needs, feeding frequency, or managing allergies.

This blog will cover the minimum you should look for when it comes to nanny qualifications, and offer you some pointers for navigating the plethora of qualifications that could feature on a CV, including international equivalents.

The Basics

Childcare qualifications are predominantly guided by the Early Years Foundation Stages (EYFS).  This sets the standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.  While nannies are unregulated, the training they opt for tends to be informed by the practices of Ofsted-registered early years providers. 

There are certain accredited qualifications that can count towards child: staff ratios in nurseries, and which are most likely to be on a par with the skills and knowledge a nanny needs.  These qualifications focus on Early Years Education, Childcare, Playwork, and Children’s Learning and Development, rather than Health and Social Care.  There are also some relevant training courses that aren’t independently accredited, such as Makaton/baby signing and cooking for children.

If you’d like to really understand the qualifications of an individual nanny, you can ask questions at interview like:  What content did it cover? How was the course taught (online, tutor groups, demonstrations, placements etc.)? How was learning assessed (multiple choice tests, written assignments, portfolios of evidence, observations etc.)? 

Nannies coming to interview will typically bring a folder which includes their original qualification certificates.  It’s well worth looking at these, because candidates are often lax about using the full and proper names of their qualifications on their CV.  In some instances nannies will have attended training courses, but won’t have paid the additional fee to take an exam or to be accredited.  You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you mind about this.

Paediatric First Aid and the Ofsted registration bundle

One thing that all parents tend to agree on is the importance of paediatric first aid training.  This should be renewed every three years.  A good nanny should have done the 12 hour version which involves both theory and practice.  This qualification is required for Ofsted registration, so if they’re Ofsted-registered, they’ve done it.

Ofsted registration isn’t a qualification as such, but a box-ticking exercise to allow a nanny to be paid using childcare vouchers (which requires an Ofsted number).  To become Ofsted registered, nannies need to show that they’ve done four things:

  1. got public liability insurance;
  2. done an Ofsted compliant 12 hour paediatric first aid course;
  3. completed the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, and;
  4. undertaken a course for the Common Core Skills that covers the 6 common core skills (communicating with children and young people, child development, safeguarding children, supporting transitions, multi-agency team working, and information sharing).  This final component typically takes 2 days to complete.

Level and Size

There are hundreds of relevant qualifications that a nanny to have, and it’s not practical to list them all here.  Instead, we’ll outline a few rules of thumb to help you get your bearings.

 Let’s start with the two key dimensions to accredited qualifications: level and size.

  • Level refers to the proficiency expected.  The scale ranges from 1 to 8, with Level 1 being the lowest.  A lot of childcare qualifications cluster around the Level 2 or Level 3 mark, with the latter tending to be achieved by those working unsupervised with children.  To give you some context, a Level 2 is comparable to GCSE A* to C, a Level 3 is comparable to A and AS Levels, and Level 4 is comparable to year one of a university degree. Level 4 is often required to achieve managerial roles in a nursery.
  • Size is denoted in terms of being an Award, a Certificate, or a Diploma, and indicated by the number of credits a course carries.  The rough rule of thumb is 1 credit for every 10 hours of learning.  The shortest courses will be Awards (carrying 1-12 credits), followed by Certificates, and finally Diplomas (carrying 27 credits or more). 

International equivalents

Sometimes you’ll come across international qualifications on CV.  There’s an official service that works out the equivalence of qualifications relative to the EYFS standards (NARIC Statement of Comparability for the Early Years Sector), but it’s expensive at £120 per qualification.  Within Europe, a simple rule to follow is a European Qualification Framework (EQF) Level is one level higher than the UK equivalent i.e. Level 3 in France is a Level 2 in the UK.

Thankfully, most international nannies do at least one qualification here in the UK -- so it’s rare to be confronted with a CV of just overseas qualifications.

How to have a difficult conversation with your nanny

Perhaps you’ve experienced that sinking feeling. You’re not happy with how things are going.  You know you need to have THAT conversation.  But you don’t want to make the situation worse.  

How can you say what is needed to be said, and gain a positive result?

We asked Sue Ingram, an expert in tough talk, for some advice. Sue literally wrote the book on having difficult conversations (it’s called ‘Fire Well: How to fire staff so they thank you’), and she runs a training company which helps managers learn what to say when managing staff.

Here are her top tips.

1.    Get in the right mental zone

First off, realise you are not actually in a ‘fight’ or ‘argument’ situation.  You both want the same outcome: for the nanny to be happy and successful.  If the nanny is happy, and giving you the service you need, then you and the children will be happy too.  It is a win, win, win.

Also, keep an open mind.  Once the conversation starts you might learn something new that changes everything.  While you should prepare, you also need to be ready to drop the plan and change your opinion.

Be calm and objective.  It is important to appear confident and speak calmly, even if (especially if) things become emotional.  After all, you’re trying to figure out how everyone can be happy and successful in their job role.  Body language is important. (If you want to appear confident even when you don’t feel it, check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk.)

2.    Identify the core problem

What is the thing that needs to change?  So often people talk about a symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself. For example, you might feel like the issue is lateness, whereas the real source of the problem is that the nanny is no longer enjoying the job. You know you have identified the source when you can say, “If this thing improved, everything would be fine.”  

3.    Prepare your opening statement

Starting the conversation is the part most people struggle with. The trick is to prepare a statement that can be said in less than 2 minutes.  This will force you to be clear and concise.

This structure can help a lot:

(i)    I notice that… What has led you to think that something is wrong and you need to have a conversation?  Alternative wording here is ‘I am beginning to think …’, ‘I sense ….’, ‘I perceive …’  This framing allows you to voice your concerns but also remain open to new information.  Follow the opener up with reasons (evidence) why you think what you do, ‘And the reason I think this is …’.

(ii)    I feel.  People can dispute your thinking but they can not argue with how you feel.  However it has to be absolutely genuine.  How do you feel?  Hurt? Angry? Disappionted? Confused?  Stating how you feel also gives permission for the other person to talk about how they feel. Often this can be the answer to the whole issue.

(iii)   I want.  You can say ‘I want all of us to be happy living and working together’, ‘I want us to sit down and discuss this issue and find the solution’.  Or you could be very precise and state what you want in place of the problem ‘I want you to be up in the kitchen by 7.30 ready to prepare the kids’ breakfast’.

Think about how the nanny is likely to respond, and what you’ll say next.  If you have prepared a really strong, clear, short statement, it can be a strong thing to calmly repeat if they try to deflect you away from the topic.

4.    Tell them what they are doing right

You want to be truthful and honest. And you’ve just told them what is not going well.  To be balanced, you also need to tell them what they are doing well.  Think of what you truthfully appreciate about them and tell them.  ‘I have to be honest and say you are doing lots of things perfectly [examples] but this issue of … is important to me / a key part of your job, and therefore it needs to be improved.’

5. Follow up

 You have had the conversation – congratulations!  Now be sure to follow up.  If you see no effort being made, or they are struggling to do what you ask, you may need to hold another conversation. But if you see improvements, even small steps towards the ultimate goal, be sure to notice these and appreciate your nanny’s efforts.     

Sue Ingram (sue@conversewell.com) is CEO and founder of Converse Well.

5 tips for getting back to work after having a baby

It seemed only a few minutes ago my colleagues were saying, ‘All the best with the birth, can’t wait to hear all about it’.

Firstly...really?! Not sure all birth stories should be shared in a work environment while someone may be eating.

Secondly, how has 8 months gone by so quickly?  

Life had continued as normal for my colleagues while I was on maternity leave. Meanwhile I hadn’t been out of the house for ten hours straight and baby-free for what seemed like years. I found it difficult to contemplate tackling a two hour commute without being close to my baby.

French parents and nanny share... in London

French parents and nanny share... in London

We have a disproportionate number of French families within the Koru Kids network.

There’s no mystery about why:  nanny share is well-established in France, especially in Paris. So French people are very used to the idea of a nanny share—a ‘garde partagée’—and instinctively try to arrange one when they have a baby in London.

Overhaul your childcare costs

Overhaul your childcare costs

Childcare is an enormous expense for London families -- on average, about a third of parents’ income.  

There are quite a few ways for parents to save on childcare cost: childcare vouchers, the new ‘tax-free childcare’ scheme, nanny share, the 30 hours free childcare, and working tax credits.