Importance of Letters of Reference

Nannies: Do You Have Written References?

Don’t minimize the importance of references. You need great references to land great nanny jobs.

Written References:

Although parents should always speak directly to some of your job references, written references from are essential from people you may not necessarily be able to track down years later. Written references are important since many of your references may not remember key information included at the time they write the reference letter. A list of names and phone numbers of former employers is fine if you do not have three written references. But start procuring written references from current employers now.

Get Permission from References:

Be sure to contact your references to let them know they will be receiving phone calls to verify your work history. Do not list someone as a reference unless you have their permission. You need to be sure that you are asking the appropriate people to write a letter of reference or to give you a verbal reference. You also need to know what the reference giver is going to say about you. To do that, review the type of positions you are applying for with the reference giver, so they can tailor their reference to fit your circumstances.

Who to Ask for a Reference:

Former bosses and parents you have babysat for make good references. So do college professors.

Make a List:

Create a listing of your references. The list of references should not be included in your resume. Rather, create a separate reference list. Have it ready to give to employers when you interview. Include three or four references, along with their job title, employer, and contact information. If the employer asks you to email your references, paste the list into the body of any email letter, rather than sending an attachment.


Request a Reference Letter:

I have heard nannies should ask for written references from their employers at each job at performance evaluation time (annually or bi-annually). At the very least, you should ask for a written letter of reference every time you change employment. Make a point of asking for a reference letter from the parent. They won’t write the letter unless you ask them to do it.


Keep Your References Up-to-Date:

Let your references know where your job search stands. Tell them who might be calling for a reference. When you get a new job, don’t forget to send a thank you note to those who provided you with a reference.


Maintain your Network:

Maintaining your reference network with periodic phone calls or notes to get and give updates is important. Have an active network in place because you never know when you might need it.’


Requesting Permission to Call Your References:

A nanny agency or prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references. This is especially important if you are employed – you don’t want to surprise your current employer with a phone call checking your references. It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you are not comfortable with your current employer being contacted at the present time. However, do have a list of alternative references available.

Click here for original article before edits.
Do you have written references?


  1. I don't know how to ask for a written letter of reference. Wouldn't the parents think I'm looking for a new job if I asked for a written letter of reference?

  2. While at the job if you are nervous about references see if you can get them to write a written review every once in awhile, sometimes you will see the same types of things you can view in a reference.Also hold on to on any cards or anything you have. My former bosses reference letter to me was kind of brief, but what I have next to it is all the various thank you notes and cards that spoke of my traits too.

  3. Sally, you just mention at performance review time (annual raise time) by saying "I'm not looking for a new job but you know how they say you should update your resume and portfolio each year could you write me a letter of reference to add to my portfolio?"

  4. I honestly never thought to get written references. I know it's hard for my first nanny job back in 100 yrs ago to remember my job performance now that the kids are adults!!

  5. The worst time to ask for a letter of reference is when you are about to leave a job. I don't care even when you live on best terms everyone is sad and even mad when it's time to leave a nanny job. Ask when the parents are thrilled to have you!You should see two of my letters are over ten yrs old and that's perfect for a letter of reference. Calling those parents won't be that beneficial now since it's been such a long time since I worked for them. So I just have them for parents to read and they are awesome, kind, great referrals.

  6. Never thought to get a written reference. I think I ought to in the future. Thanks for the idea. Makes sense.

  7. Ladies (and gentlemen perhaps) let me tell you as a mother you better ask someone before you use them as a reference. I once got a call from someone unexpectadly and wasn't prepared and may have really screwed up the nanny's chance of being hired by the reference. It will be a big problem if you can't at least email or call the reference and tell them to expect the call.Mom Julie employer of Nanny Maryanne

  8. I like written references because parents don't want to get hundreds of reference calls. Only give out the phone numbers to the agency and then only to parents that you are interested in working for. Not fair to the parent to get dozens of calls for jobs you may not even be interested in. Written references are great for that purpose. Then only a handful of calls at most will be necessary before you land the job.

  9. References are more important than a resume for nannies. Getting written references is the number one priority and then of course the references willing to speak to the potential employers.

  10. This is the first time I've seen any nanny related article or media discuss how to get references and preferably written references. Thanks, good advice.


  1. […] your job references lined-up.  Be sure to ask former employers directly if they are willing to be contacted for a job […]

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