If this title caught your attention, odds are that you already own or are looking to open a childcare business. Whatever the case might be, hiring the right personnel can make or break your daycare center. Thus, you will need to implement a thorough and effective recruiting process.
When hiring childcare workers, there are a series of elements to consider that can simplify your selection process and ensure success. These factors include qualifications, soft skills, references, and background checks.
Please note that there may be other things to consider when selecting quality childcare staff. However, based on our experience, the elements mentioned above are the most crucial.
Hiring Process Tips
Before we go into details as to what are the ‘must-haves’ of any childcare giver, let us start by saying that finding qualified personnel is no easy task! Therefore, below, we will share a list of tips that can help make the process less challenging:
1. Advertise in the right places
You should always try to publicize on local teaching programs, specialized job fairs, online forums related to education, and of course, through your website or social media platforms.
2. Offer great benefits
Offering adequate compensation and a substantial benefits package is crucial, especially if you are just starting. Moreover, you will need to have alluring policies (e.g., flexibility with scheduling hours, opportunities for professional development) to attract the right candidates.
3. Conduct panel interviews
Once you’ve narrowed down your applicants, you should schedule in-person meetings. An interview will give you the chance to personally meet the candidates and assess their experience and personality better.
We recommend you involve your business partner, other childcare staff such as a headteacher, and (if it is possible) a parent representative. Why? Simple. Panel interviews allow for additional vetting, meaning you will always have different points of view to consider. Sometimes a person might miss out on things that others wouldn’t; thus, it is best if you do not go in alone.
Additionally, make sure you prepare a set of questions to ask future candidates. Make sure you are asking the right questions and not only the standard or obvious questions such as: ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ or ‘Why do you want to work with us?’. Take the time to draft questions that will give you real insight. For instance, you might want to ask a potential candidate:
- How would you deal with a difficult parent?
- Describe a time where you had to go out of his/her way to help a student.
- What do you think is the most important quality a caregiver should have?
4. Hire a recruiting agency
If you are unsure as to how to conduct an extensive hiring process, or if you simply do not have time to do so, we recommend you hire a head-hunting agency. Usually, experts can simplify the process by pre-selecting and screening suitable candidates. Of course, you will need to take into account the costs that go into hiring a recruiter. Based on our research, a recruiter can charge anything between 15% and 20% of a candidate’s first annual salary,
Determining Factors when Hiring a Daycare Worker
Now that you know what the process entails, we can look at the specific requirements that will determine if someone is the right candidate for your daycare center.
From a strictly professional standpoint, childcare givers often only need a high school diploma or GED. Nonetheless, you might want your staff to be better qualified. Keep in mind that the better qualified your staff is, the more attractive your service is to potential customers.
Also, depending on the specific position for which an individual is applying, a certain degree of experience may be required. For instance, if you are looking for someone to fill a Head Teacher position, you will need to find a suitable candidate that meets important qualifications such as:
- Having a teaching degree.
- 3 to 5 years of previous work experience in the field.
- Certified in First Aid/CPR/AED with extensive knowledge of childcare safety.
- Specialized training in child abuse detection and prevention.
On the contrary, if you are looking for a Teacher Assistant or someone to assist with specific tasks (e.g., serving lunch, cleaning the facilities) the requirements may be less strict. Often, these types of positions are filled by entry-level professionals or individuals who not necessarily have previous experience in the educational realm.
Please note that there are stringent laws regarding the childcare industry, as most states require extensive legal considerations. Thus, make sure you are familiar with your state’s requirements when it comes to required certificates, training, and licenses.
Aside from having adequate training or certifications, it is imperative for your caregivers to have a set of ‘soft skills’ that allow an overall understanding of child development. Thus, the caregivers on your staff should be warm, patient, and responsible individuals with a passion for education — qualities that are usually ‘must-haves’ when working with children.
A high-quality daycare professional should also present a set of traits that include, but are not limited, to having:
- Great interpersonal skills
- Excellent communication
- A mature and positive personality
- Good problem-solving strategies
- Professional presence and appearance
Moreover, competent caregivers are sensitive and accepting of different cultures, races, and religions. Remember that young children pick up on the attitudes and behavior of the adults around them. Hence, when making your decision, consider the person’s soft skills as much as their formal education. Based on our experience, behavioral qualities are just as important as degrees or certifications when choosing a good daycare professional.
Always ask for professional references! We cannot stress this enough. It is a widespread practice within the industry, and you should not feel uncomfortable when asking for a previous employer’s or supervisor’s contact information.
Sometimes a person may leave a job because of unusual circumstances or on bad terms, but this does not necessarily mean he/she is not the right person for a job. Nonetheless, this additional insight can help you make an educated guess as to what to expect from a particular caregiver. Inquire about their habits, attitude, absenteeism, and leadership skills.
Pay close attention to any possible red flags and clearly ask for candidates to include professional (and not personal) references. Even though it is quite unusual, sometimes candidates will list unreliable references such as a family member or a friend. So, make sure you are also cross-checking the information for better results.
Childcare hiring decisions are some of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your daycare business. Thus, they should not be taken lightly.
Screen potential caregivers very carefully. As you know, negligent or unfit employees can harm children, damage your reputation, and tank your business. As a result, you should always conduct background checks before hiring personnel.
Some people consider it to be an invasion of privacy, but in general professional caregivers will be understanding. After all, by omitting it, you might be putting dozens of kids at risk.
Consequently, a great way to go about it is by letting future employees know that you’ll be conducting a background check. If an applicant has a record of child abuse, it is possible that the attention you direct to the issue will discourage them from continuing the selection process.
It is crucial that you do not try to conduct the background checks yourself. It is always best to let a specialist take care of the process. Expect to pay $50 to $200 for a professional background check, depending on how much detail you need. It might seem like a significant investment, so we recommend you use this as the last step in your candidate selection process. By doing so, you will be only paying for the individuals that are most likely to receive a job offer.
Other things to consider
Like we said before, qualifications, soft skills, references, and background checks are not the only things you need to consider when looking for high-quality caregivers to hire. There are many other things you should take into consideration, such as:
Make sure your future employee is allowed to work in the U.S. before extending a job offer. By doing so, you are not only complying with federal laws but are also protecting your company.
Simply ask the person if they can legally work in the country. If an individual is legally authorized to work in the U.S., it usually means they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or in the U.S. with a worker’s visa (H1B Work Visa.) Your employees must have legal documentation to support their identity and their status of eligibility. Once they’re hired, you’ll have to complete and submit form I-9 for your employees.
Even though medical exams are usually conducted after a person is extended with a job offer, we recommend you take the time to evaluate candidates before. Basic physical exams, as well as a standard drug and alcohol tests, will give you peace of mind. Keep in mind, you can never be too careful when it comes to child safety.
Moreover, you can even administer a simple personality test to assess a candidate’s mental health and contrast individual traits to those you are looking for in a caregiver. We recommend using the Myers Briggs test — an introspective questionnaire that maps out psychological preferences and categorizes personality.
Arranging a ‘Trial Day’
If you are unsure if the person selected is the right fit, or if you want to be more thorough, we suggest you arrange a ‘trial day.’ Here, the candidate could shadow a current teacher for a day before you offer a position.
It is always a good idea to see how a person interacts with children and colleagues to make sure he or she is right for your center. Additionally, this could give the person the chance to get a feel of how a regular day in the job will be. Allowing them to decide if they want to continue with the selection process.
There you have it, the complete guide to hiring childcare workers! Remember to take your time while considering candidates, childcare is a delicate thing that needs to be taken seriously. Not all experienced professionals are suited for this type of job. Furthermore, not everyone will be on the same page as you when it comes to childcaring methods and philosophies.
Also, if you feel that the hiring process is becoming too overwhelming, or if you do not feel comfortable in conducting a specific portion I recommend you ask for professional help.
However, the best advice we can give you is to always ask for references and trust your instincts!
Furthermore, to help you make a better decision, below, we share two of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to hiring daycare employees:
How can I know I am hiring the right candidate?
If you follow all the instructions/tips mentioned above, you will most likely hire a caring, patient, and qualified caregiver with a positive attitude and impeccable manners. Nonetheless, pay special attention to:
- Communication Skills
- Personal Values and Work Ethic (e.g., honesty, responsibility, loyalty)
- Interpersonal Skills (e.g., ability to work as a team and communicate with students and parents.)
After extending a job offer, what should I do next?
Once you hire a new employee, you will need to train them and make sure they are capable of managing all the tasks that the position entails. We recommend you start by providing a tour of the facilities, introducing them to all other workers, and discussing your philosophy of childcare.
After this is done, you can proceed to introduce the new caregiver to children by providing their names, ages, and developmental needs. For example, a specific child may require extra time to finish a task or additional attention.
The best thing you can do is to make sure you have open communications. From the beginning, explain your policies and requirements and let the person know that you are there in case they need help.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Did you know we offer solutions to your daycare business problems? Yup, we do! Check them out here.