Hiring requires homework

WORKING WOMAN

May 23, 1993|By Niki Scott

Your children are too young to stay home alone this summer. They don't want to go to a camp or day-care center. And while you've left your bedroom window open for three nights in a row on the whisper of a chance that Mary Poppins will sail in brandishing a spoonful of sugar, so far you've had no luck.

In lieu of a magical nanny, you'll have to settle for a teen-age sitter -- which can be the best or worst of experiences, depending in large part upon how much homework you're willing do.

To start your search, your first piece of homework is to locate more than one young person who's qualified for the job. This way you can compare several sets of qualifications and make a decision based on choice, not "She's the only one available and it's nearly June!"

Visit local college campuses, high school guidance counselors' offices, churches and synagogues, convenience stores, CD and tape stores, roller skating rinks, bowling alleys, movie theaters, community centers, grocery stores and local Y's -- every place you can think of where teen-agers work or hang out -- and place 3-by-5 index cards advertising the job on every bulletin board in sight.

Call your state's Human Services and Job Corps offices, located under State Government and Federal Government offices in your phone book, and your area's Youth Employment Office or commission, as well, and call every other parent you know.

Then take some time to prepare for the actual interviews with prospective sitters by writing down exactly what you'll expect of them.

For example: "I'll need you to work . . . hours per week. I do (don't) want you to provide your own transportation.

"I do (don't) want you to prepare hot lunches every day. I do (don't) want you to insist that my children play outside for most of the day, weather permitting. I also want you to take them to dancing class, or the swimming pool, or the park X number of days a week.

"I do (don't) want you and/or my children watching television during the day. I do (don't) want my children or you to invite friends over while I'm at work. I will (won't) allow personal phone calls that are local and last no longer than . . . minutes. I do (don't) permit smoking in my home.

"The following discipline techniques (never spanking!) are acceptable in rare cases when other methods of persuasion and reasoning have failed . . .

"I do (don't) expect you to clean up the kitchen after each meal you prepare and to perform other light housekeeping duties, such as laundry, ironing, dusting, vacuuming, etc., as well."

Once you've conducted several interviews, your final piece of homework is to ask for at least three references from each likely candidate left in the running and take the time to check and recheck each one -- and to meet their parents, as well.

And when the time comes to make a final choice, remember that if you feel even slightly uncomfortable with a candidate for the job, forget about all the homework you've done and trust your instincts.

) Universal Press Syndicate

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