A Review of Sittercity: Everything You Need to Know
People looking for weekend babysitting gigs or full-time nanny jobs may often be at the mercy of their personal network. If you know someone, you can get lucky finding a job. If you don’t know people in your area, you can try posting ads or hit up Craigslist, but it’s hard to convince potential clients that you’re trustworthy.
Sittercity is an online platform that lets people safely connect with vetted caregivers. In this Sittercity review, we’ll look at the site for both clients and sitters, and compare it to Care.com. At the end, you should have a good idea if Sittercity is right for you.
What Is Sittercity?
Sittercity is an online, on-demand job board where people can find and connect with care specialists. Most people use the site for babysitting services, but there are also listings for pet sitters, senior care specialists, and caregivers who are trained to work with people with special needs.
The site can be used by families looking for full-time nanny jobs or part-time babysitters, before or after school, or during weekends. Babysitters can be hired on-demand for a one-time gig or as a full-time, live-in caregiver.
Sittercity.com was launched back in 2001 by Genevieve Thiers, who was a college student at the time making extra money as a babysitter. At that time, the site was limited to the Boston area and only focused on childcare. In 2002, the company moved its headquarters to Chicago and by 2004 was available across the United States.
The CEO of Sittercity is now Elizabeth Harz. The company boasts millions of sitters and has introduced several larger programs, including a corporate program where companies can offer Sittercity memberships as a benefit to its employees.
How Sittercity Works
For clients, Sittercity is a membership-based program where you pay to connect with caregivers or list jobs. It’s very similar to Care.com in that regard — more on the comparison between the two companies later in the article.
To get started, clients can head to sittercity.com and, for free, look around the site and see what sitters are available in their area. If they like what they see, they can start a membership and then either connect directly with a caregiver or post a job.
To post a job, they simply have to describe their care needs, including care type (childcare, pet sitters, senior care), hours, if it’s a recurring job or a one-time appointment, etc.
Sittercity will then show them top-rated sitters who are available. From there, clients can reach out directly to sitters and then organize the job. Sittercity doesn’t employ any of the sitters — rather, it acts as a job board that connects clients with great sitters.
Safety and Security
All sitters must undergo a comprehensive background check before joining the site. Potential clients are also able to read sitter reviews and connect directly with the sitter to get to know them better before hiring them.
Sittercity also conducts identity verification for all potential sitters and has partnered with the organization Family Watchdog to conduct screens on sitters on their platform.
For a membership, Sittercity lets you pay with any major credit card. When it comes to individual sitter jobs, however, the client is responsible for paying for the sitter directly. They do not process payment on behalf of the sitter, instead keeping the hiring and payment directly between the client and the sitter. They are a job board, a platform to connect caregivers and clients — they aren’t there to oversee the hiring or process payment.
They do recommend that sitters get an agreement in place in advance, before taking a job.
Signing Up As a Sitter
Care providers looking to create a Sitter profile can do so quickly and easily on their homepage. In the top right corner, you’ll see a link to “Join as a sitter.”
It looks like this:
On the next page, you’ll be taken to create an account. There, you’ll need to provide personal and contact information and also designate what kind of care service you are interested in — pet care, senior care, or babysitting.
Don’t worry about creating a profile yet, you’ll be able to highlight things about you later on in the process. This is really just about getting basic information and creating an account.
After this point, you’ll need to authorize a background check. Sittercity requires you to pay for the background check upfront, and you have a choice — their “basic background check” costs $15, while their “enhanced background check” costs $60. Enhanced background checks are more expensive, but Sittercity does tell clients that you opted for it. Some clients may prefer to hire someone who underwent a more comprehensive background check. The good thing is, you just need to pay for it once, and then you’re on the site.
Once you authorize the background check and are approved, it’s time to create your profile. Upload a photo, and introduce yourself to clients. You can highlight previous work experience, plus any certifications you may have.
After that, it’s time to apply for a gig.
Applying For Jobs
To find a job, you can search by location and apply to ones that you think you’d be great for. You can search for individual jobs and recurring gigs, all filtered by your specialty. The job listing will list a payment range, time commitment, and job details, so you can quickly see if it’s a gig you’re interested in.
Click “Apply to This Job,” and then you can pass along your profile.
Reminder: Once you connect with a client, you still need to negotiate payment, exchange phone numbers, etc. Sittercity is really just a focused, high-powered job board, allowing people to create profiles and get hired by families looking for a great sitter.
Sittercity vs. Care.com
Sittercity’s biggest competitor is Care.com, and both function in similar ways. They act as job boards where clients pay comparable membership fees to connect with qualified caregivers.
One of the biggest differences between Sittercity and Care.com is who foots the bill for the background check. On Care.com, the client is responsible to run a background check on each person they want to hire. This can start at $59 and go all the way up to $300. Caregivers on Care.com can pay for their own background check and send results to potential clients, but it’s optional.
On Sittercity, the caregiver must pay for the background check upfront. This may make some sitters think they’d be better off just joining Care.com, but it depends on how you look at it. Because Sittercity users don’t have to pay for a background check each time, they may feel more comfortable making a quick hire, knowing they won’t need to pay big bucks for a comprehensive background check each time they want to find a sitter.
So while the Sittercity background check costs $15 for caregivers, and its enhanced background check costs $60, all Sittercity clients will know that you’ve been vetted and may be more willing to hire you.
Another detraction regarding Care.com is that it offers caregivers the chance to become featured in listings by paying to become a “featured caregiver.” Some caregivers like being able to pay for a subscription to get featured, but this has rankled some users, who feel it’s a pay-to-play system.
Sittercity, on the other hand, just lists jobs and lets qualified users let the client know that they’re interested. You don’t have to pay extra to be featured in search results. (Both sites do give preferential listings for people with good reviews, it should be noted.)
If you’re in a remote area with not too many caregivers on the site, it may not matter if you’re listed at the top or not. If you’re in a major city like New York or Washington, D.C., however, it may be tough to get noticed on Care.com unless you’re paying for higher exposure in search results. For this reason, Sittercity users may feel it’s a better investment to just pay for the background check, and then let their work speak for itself.
On the other hand, new Sittercity users may find it hard to get noticed until they start booking jobs and garnering positive reviews. With Care.com, you can simply pay for a featured profile and start gaining traction immediately. It’s up to you the best way to go about it.