I hate searching for a new job. It’s usually fun for the first day or so, as the seemingly endless possibilities begin to stream in. But after a week or so, it becomes tedious. And after a month, the search itself seems endless.

In my ads and profiles, I try to be as specific as possible, in an effort to weed out the families who won’t be a fit for logistical reasons. I make it clear that I am interested only in full-time, live-out, long-term positions. I specify the areas I’m willing to work in (based on commute). I make it clear that my primary area of experience and interest is infant, toddler and preschooler development. And I describe the types of outings I plan on a regular basis, attempting to scare off parents who plan to keep their nanny on house arrest.

And yet, for reasons that are still unclear to me, this does little to filter the emails that flood my inbox. If I had a dollar for every email that asked me to consider a two-hour commute for a part-time position with two preteens…well, I might not have enough money to quit working altogether, but I could certainly take JP out for a nice dinner. I really don’t understand why parents waste their time emailing someone who so clearly is not a likely candidate for their position.

So I spend an hour or so per day reading and responding to these emails with something that begins, “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately…”

For those emails that actually do fall within my basic parameters, I then send the parents my resume and online portfolio, which contains more extensive information about my education, experience and childcare philosophies. In exchange, I ask them to answer a list of questions about their family and the position they are offering. This eliminates half the potential families. They are disqualified for reasons ranging from refusing to pay employment taxes to expecting their nanny to be a housekeeper as well as a nanny.

Then comes the phone interviews, in which I repeat the same information about my background and experience a thousand times, even though most of the questions I’m asked could be answered by reading the materials I provided (resume and portfolio). Although the phone interviews are a crucial step — they help me narrow the field even further, to the families I’m willing to meet in person — they are also time consuming and tedious.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Last weekend, during one of my countless phone interviews, I was standing on the balcony outlining my discipline style, when the ball of fluff who had been laying at my feet, stood up, crouched, and then rocketed out across the porch, cannonballing into a makeshift pool. The pool was actually a canvas chair filled with rainwater, but watching the beastlet, you’d have thought it was a five-star water park. She swam, she rolled, she flipped, she leapt. I’ve never seen anything like the acrobatics she put on display. And when she’d had her fill of swimming, she ran laps around the balcony, her wet feet failing to find purchase on the tile. It took every ounce of discipline I had to refrain from laughing as I watched her careen into the wall, only to get up, shake it off, and take off again.

I think her performance may be the best part of this job search so far.

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