Babysitting is one of the most popular options for female migrants in Australia. Unlike nannies who generally provide round-the-clock childcare, babysitters are usually young females who look after children part-time while they finish their studies or take on another job. So, this arrangement clearly poses a lot of benefits for someone who is still finding her feet in Australia yet wishes to establish a network and make some money in the process.
Since more women are now in the Australian workforce, the demand for babysitters has significantly increased over the past few decades. Paying for a childcare provider is no longer the sole province of the wealthy, idle, tennis-playing mom. In some childcare agencies, more than ninety percent of the clientele is comprised of hardworking parents who want a healthy work-life balance and quality childcare.
If you have been in the babysitting industry for a while and think that it’s high time for a raise (those student loans won’t pay themselves, after all), there are a handful of things that you can do to increase your market value and, more importantly, make your current or potential employers do the same:
1. Do your homework.
Before you can even begin to ask for a raise, make sure that the figure you have in mind isn’t far off from the going rates in your area. Join local nanny/babysitter support groups, look up babysitter forums on the Internet, or chat up families that hire babysitters in your area.
2. Update your resume by adding unique skills that could appeal to future employers.
Are you fluent in Spanish or French? Can you teach kids how to play soccer or how to play a certain instrument?
Another alternative would be to list certain duties or tasks that you are willing to do on the job, such as picking up groceries, taking the kids to a museum, aquarium, or any other location that would add to their learning, or even doing some light cleaning, as needed.
The point of your new resume is to highlight what could make you stand out from the other candidates. Do that successfully, and you won’t have to do much to justify a comparatively premium rate.
If you don’t have a babysitting resume yet, you can use templates such as this as a guide.
3. Be ready with your references.
It should go without saying that you should have a good track record with past clients before you ask for that raise. Glowing reviews from good families are always good to have in a babysitter’s negotiating arsenal, so make it a habit to collect those from your previous customers.
Listing the contact numbers of your references on your resume is also a good move. Just warn your former clients in advance that your potential customers might ring them up to discuss your performance.
4. Look at the pay package as a whole, and see if you can negotiate for non-monetary benefits.
Sometimes, a relatively low pay might be compensated by a babysitting job’s fringe benefits.
For instance, the parents of your charge might opt to supplement your pay with access to the family car, gas money, or perhaps even a membership package at the neighborhood gym if that’s your thing.
If an imminent pay raise isn’t viable for your current client but you would still like to keep working with them anyway, you can instead ask, “If you can’t pay me x amount, what other on-the-job perks can you offer me?“.
5. Ask if you can negotiate your salary from the get-go.
Before you even sign on with a new client, you both need to weigh in on how much you should get paid. Going with your client’s proposed rate at the beginning is fine if you’re just getting started and are in the process of building up your resume and experience, but you should set the negotiations in motion early on as you become more competent.
Again, don’t present a figure without being unable to give a reason for it (e.g., “This is the going rate,” “I come to this job with a special set of skills,” “My past clients have had a high degree of satisfaction with my performance,” etc.). If you’ve laid the groundwork well (and speak with just the right amount of confidence), most clients will agree to your rate or at the very least, meet you halfway.
6. Offer an introductory rate.
Let’s say that your potential client is impressed with your resume and interview, but is a little hesitant to commit to paying your proposed rate at the onset. What you can do is to offer an introductory rate for a limited time.
For example, you can render your services at the average rate of AUD16/hour during the first week. If the client is satisfied with your performance and would like to keep you on afterwards, s/he can pay you AUD20/hour for the succeeding weeks.
7. Play up your limited availability.
One effective negotiating tactic is to mention the demand for your services (do make sure that you ARE in demand, of course).
Sometime during the conversation, casually mention that the client is lucky to book your services at the discounted rate during that week or day since your usual clients pay full rate on most weeks or days. This puts them in a position of uncertainty since it will compel them to pay a rate that’s acceptable to you to have ready access to qualified childcare.
8. If all else fails, walk away.
You may genuinely enjoy babysitting or you may even like the family of the client you’re discussing payment terms with, but at the end of the day, you will be doing a job that you should be paid adequately for. Thus, if you’ve tried every trick in the book and the client still refuses to budge from an unreasonably low rate, don’t be scared to walk away.
There will always be other clients and many of them will be happy to pay your rate, but it will be quite difficult to negotiate an appropriate paycheck if you knowingly take on a low-paying job.