Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Tick Off a Potential Babysitter

Edit 8/18/12: Oh wow, I'm a bit mortified to ever have written this.  That phase didn't last long at all.  Amazing what a couple years of thought will do to your perspective... I thought about taking it down completely, but I may be more mortified in 20 years!

One of the ideas I had for jobs this summer was, surprisingly enough, babysitting. I'm not sure why, but it's something I've always wanted to try. So I signed up for several sites online that would list jobs parents had posted. Turns out to be a hard market for a male with no experience to get into. I guess that didn't really surprise me, but what did surprise me were how some parents handled their job postings. So here are some of the things that have happened to me, that I hope I will never do once I'm on the parent side someday:

1. Ignore applications. I've been shocked how few parents actually respond. Even a "Sorry, but the position's been filled" would be nice. I know real jobs don't do this, but I had thought that individual people were more polite.
2. Not mention the ages of your kids. Don't you think that's an important detail?
3. Not return direct questions. Like when I ask the ages of your kids, it would be nice if you answered. (See #1 as a crossreference!)
4. Post a job without exhausting other options first. There was one who canceled his posting because a neighborhood girl came through. Another from out of state needed a sitter while they attended an adults-only wedding. I thought I had that one, and then they decided to bring another family member out instead.
5. Pretend to be a job when you're really a sitter. I'm shocked how many postings really turn out to be other sitters with no computer skill at all evidently, who are really advertising themselves in the jobs areas. How do you miss all the clear "how to sign up correctly" pages?
6. Unrealistic expectations. I saw two that had unique language requirements. One wanted the sitter to be able to tutor in Mandarin Chinese. The other required Eritrean. Do you know where Eritrea even is? Me neither. (Well, yes, I do, but I bet I'm within 2% of the nation on that one.) How many Eritrean-speaking babysitters do you think Denver has? Another expected you to be able to get on a military base. Edit: Maybe I had unrealistic expectations too...
7. Not delete the post after it's filled. I'm on four sites. The one has everything reviewed and is mostly OK. Some posts are still there a long time; surely they're filled. Another seems to be totally dead. (I thought about making that another point, but I won't.) Another automatically expires jobs after a month. The fourth doesn't. It is relatively cluttered with jobs that get left around for months. I'm sure they get filled because a lot of people are applying. (The few people I have talked to say they get overwhelmed with the number (35 in one case) of applications they get.) But seriously, when you've filled it, delete it!
8. Flatter your kids. I find it hard to believe that every kid is sweet, yet the parents all claim they are.
9. Try to go outside the site's communication system. There've been a few who've said something like "I didn't want to pay the extra money to be able to be contacted in the site, so email me at ___ or call me at ___". Unfortunately for them, the site automatically removes those and we're out of luck. (Remember that one site that is dead? Just in case anyone were ever to find me, I did put in my email address, but it took a lot of effort to get it into a form people could read and the system didn't automatically block.)
10. Don't get to the very end and change your mind. Three of the sites also have tutoring, elder care, pet care, etc. available, and I applied for a calculus tutor on one. It made it to the point of "Let me know when and where you would like to meet next week" before another person showed up that she liked better. Funny, it had sure sounded like a job offer to me...

Or, just don't have kids. I'll have them for you someday :)

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