Writing and Placing an Ad

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One of your best bets is to advertise in your local newspaper. Experience demonstrates that the smaller and more local the paper, the more likely it is that you will be contacted by appropriate candidates. This is especially true when you're seeking a caregiver who can commute to your home each day.

Here are some ideas that may help when you're writing and placing your ad.

Check the "Situations Wanted" section in your local newspaper or parents' paper to see if anyone who meets your needs is advertising for a position.

Look for ads others may have placed for an in-home caregiver. If you find a paper with many such ads, you will know it is probably a good place to advertise. Reading other caregiver ads can help you phrase your own and, even though you won't be including your salary in your ad, may give you some idea of salaries in your area.

When you write your ad, be sure to include information about:

- ages and number of children

- hours and days needed

- live-in or live-out

- area you live in

- any special perks or benefits that may attract applicants (such as health insurance, a car, travel, a family pool, health club or YWCA membership, or video store account)

Be sure to mention anything special you require, such as:

- driving own car or yours

- English-speaking and/or U.S. visa

- child care experience and references

- non-smoker Do not include:

- specific salary

- minimum age

- race, sex, or religion

Parents who include specific salaries in ads often find they have limited their pool of candidates. Many prospective caregivers simply don't respond to ads when the information does not seem negotiable. Also, remember that the law generally prohibits discriminating against potential employees because of age, race, sex, or religion. Many newspapers will not accept ads that include words that might be interpreted to be discriminatory. If you have a specific preference, try to think of descriptive words that personify the kind of person you're looking for. For instance, if you prefer a younger caregiver because you think she'll be more likely to play actively with your child, instead of saying, "Looking for nanny in early 20s . . ." try something like, "Seeking energetic caregiver who wants to get down on floor and play with adorable toddler!"

Most newspapers charge by the number of words or lines in your ad, so eliminate any unnecessary words such as articles (a, an, the) or prepositions (by, to, with, etc.).

It is worth adding a few adjectives to describe your children (adorable, energetic, etc.) to give the ad some personality. Words describing the candidate (experienced, stimulating, and so on) can also help eliminate unwanted responses.

If the newspaper arranges ads alphabetically, start your ad with words like "A nanny needed," "Child care. . . ," or "Adorable infant . . . ."

Ads located at the top of a section or page seem to generate the greatest response. Ask the paper how they arrange the ads and adjust your ad accordingly.

If you don't want applicants to call you directly, some larger papers use post office boxes or voice mail as screening tools. You may also want to consider using an answering service and listing their number in your ad.

• Look at local newspapers for ideas.

• Develop ads and flyers.

• Tell everyone you are looking for a caregiver.

• Use local resources: schools, community programs, places of worship, local colleges, etc.

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