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Reference letters are important to babysitters when they look for work. They come from happy former employers who make themselves available to support the sitter when a new employer asks about the candidate. Babysitters must rely on the recommendations of past employers to assure potential new bosses that they are good at what they do.
Babysitter reference letters should focus on the character of the employee and state that she is trustworthy and reliable. Reliability is of paramount importance when parents are counting on the applicant to be there on time so they can head off to work and get the day's activities under way. Lateness or absence on the part of the babysitter equals lateness or absence on the part of the employer, and that is a big problem. Make it clear that the sitter was always on time and did not call out for illness unless it was absolutely necessary. After all, many parents would prefer their babysitter sacrifice her pay and stay home rather than make their children sick.
Because babysitters may spend a greater portion of the day with the children than the parents do, it is a great help when that sitter can use the time to teach new skills and help children to reach new milestones. For example, babysitters may be present when a child speaks her first word or when potty training finally takes hold. Speak about the role your babysitter played in the accomplishment of any goals or milestones. If she put in extra effort to teach your child how to speak or read, mention that. These extra touches show genuine caring and make it clear that the babysitter didn't just sit and wait for a paycheck, but used her time with the children to make a difference.
Make it clear what age children and what number of children your babysitter has experience with. There is a huge difference watching a 5-year-old versus twin infants. Each age requires a slightly different set of skills and the knowledge that comes only with having done the job. In some cases a sitter will be asked to watch a single child. In others, there can be as many as four or five at a time who require care. This is another important difference to highlight in your letter. Caring for multiple children, especially of varying ages, is demanding and can help to establish the sitter as a capable employee with the stamina to keep up.
Recommendation letters should contain information about the relationships formed between the sitter and your family. Since a sitter is in your home and watching your children, she will likely become more than just a casual visitor. Sitters are inescapably involved in the day-to-day lives of your family and your letter should reveal as much. Speak of the positive role played by your sitter in family events and home life and the ways in which she extended herself beyond the call of duty. If your sitter became an honorary part of the family, let the new employer know she is more than just a worker to you.
- Shannon Zupnick; Child Care Professional; New York, N.Y.
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