Experienced house sitter Kelly Hayes-Raitt shares her insider secrets to help you apply for a house sit successfully. Read on to learn 40 her top tips!
40 Tips to Shine When You Apply for a House Sit
By Kelly Hayes-Raitt
At first, it might feel daunting when you become a house sitter and want to apply for a house sit – it’s as if you are applying for a job. In a way, you are! Coveted house sits can be competitive, so you want to be sure to be professional and approachable.
How to Strategically Apply for a House Sit
• Sign up for HouseSit Match’s eNewsletter to learn about new house sitting opportunities.
• Register with House Sit Match Choose either a Standard or a Premium membership. It seems obvious, but many potential sitters are not registered with House Sit Match when they want to apply for a house sit.
Register now so you will be ready when that perfect house sit pops up!
• Launch your profile! Lamia Walker, founder of HouseSitMatch, reports that many of her members – paying members – have not put up a profile. Without a complete profile for a homeowner to peruse, you’ll probably be at the back of the line when you do apply for a house sit.
Furthermore, many homeowners reach out to sitters whose profiles they like. Without a profile, you’re at a disadvantage for receiving sitting invitations.
Lamia helps her members create eye-catching profiles. “I love helping both house sitters and homeowners create the best profiles they possibly can so they get the most out of HouseSitMatch,” she says. “This is why we have happier customers!”
Contact her directly to ask for help.
Tips for Creating a Sizzling House Sitter Profile
When creating your on-line profile, you are creating an on-line résumé. You may be competing against dozens of other applicants when you apply for a house sit. So, spend time creating an outstanding profile. It will be well worth your effort!
• Personal description
• Video (a perk of being a Premium member!)
Photos of You as a House Sitter and Pet Sitter
• Choose photos of yourself interacting with pets, at a fun travel location or with your house sitting partner. You’d be surprised by the number of house sitter head shots that appear to be police mug shots. Or, worse, people downing shots!
• Be sure there’s a clear view of your face. A new homeowner wants to meet you, not a stranger’s dog when you apply for a house sit!
• Include photos of you fulfilling your responsibilities at other house sits – e.g., gardening, walking the dog, cuddling the cat, or cleaning the pool. Just be sure they don’t include any images that might compromise those homeowners’ security or privacy.
• Make sure your photos are clear and medium or high resolution, so they aren’t grainy on the web site.
Describe Yourself as a House Sitter and Pet Sitter
• Create an engaging description of yourself that answers the question, “Why I want to housesit for YOU!” Show what you bring to the table when you apply for a house sit.
• Emphasize your experience with pets and animals.
• Mention any medical or veterinarian background.
• Stand out by showing your personality. It’s OK to take a risk and be controversial. In my profile on HouseSitMatch, I mention that I’m writing a book about my experiences in the Middle East with Iraqi refugees. That might turn off some people, but it has also floated me to the top of some very big lists when I apply for a house sit.
• Give biographical information: Your age, nationality, who you are traveling with (if anyone) and any physical limitations.
Your Handle or ‘Username’
• Pick a name that pet owners will be attracted to. If you were searching for someone to care for your pets, would you gravitate toward someone who called herself “Loves 2 Travel” or “Loves Pets”? “Endless Vacation” or “Responsible Pet Pamperer”?
• Shoot a creative video. Avoid the stereotypical (and boring) selfie video of you sitting on a couch saying the same things that are written in your profile. Instead, show your humor, your adventurousness or you interacting with a pet.
• Be someone the homeowners want to meet.
• If shooting a video while on a house sit, be sure to protect the privacy and security of the current homeowners.
• Consider telling a story – perhaps the story of how you got into house sitting, or anecdotes of your personal interactions with pets.
It’s campy, narrated by a friend of mine who pretended to be ChaCha, the rambunctious pit/Lab rescue I cared for every year in Mexico for a decade. But it’s fun and says a lot about me in a very short time.
And it really reflects my nutty personality!
Reviews About You as a House Sitter
• On the last date of your completed house sit you and your host will receive an auto generated email requesting a review for the other party. Be sure to gather reviews quickly following the sitting assignment, while the homeowners are still feeling warm and glowy.
• I request a review first by drafting feedback for the homeowner. Before posting, however, I email the draft feedback to the homeowner inviting her to make any changes or edits. In that email, I invite her to bring up any feedback for improvement before writing a review that’s hard to change.
I also ask her to please write a review for me. While I don’t ask to see it ahead of time, many homeowners mirror my action and send it to me before posting. Unless there is something glaringly wrong, I respond with a hearty “thank you!”
• Be quick! Reviews are not posted until each party submits a review, so be sure to get yours in right away!
A really great HouseSitMatch feature is that reviews can be changed by Lamia if there are unusual circumstances. (Other sites refuse to change reviews.)
Some sitters prefer to create their profiles on their own websites. But it’s a good idea to build your presence on HouseSitMatch as well because when you apply for a house sit:
• HouseSitMatch distinguishes between reviews by homeowners who are also HouseSitMatch members. These reviews “weigh” more than external reviews.
• Homeowners looking for sitters can find your profile and proactively approach you. Even if that particular sit won’t work for you, you have an opportunity to start a relationship for a future sitting assignment.
• Some homeowners won’t visit a separate website.
Get Your ID Verified Before You Apply for a House Sit
HouseSitMatch takes security seriously. It is one of the few major house sitting platforms that requires ID checks upon registration – of both sitters and homeowners. There is no additional cost. HouseSitMatch has partnered with Hooyu for secure and safe identity verification.
To further your chances of getting chosen when you apply for a house sit, you might opt for an additional police background check through HouseSitMatch’s partner Verifile for a nominal charge.
“Vetting every new member means we have a safer network,” says Lamia, “and going through our in-depth ID checking at the beginning means you help to keep our network safe and secure for all.”
Find Your First House Sit!
Here are my tips for snagging your first sits:
• Go local first. It’s easier to house sit in your own community where you’ll be available to meet homeowners in person after you apply for their house sit. Also, since you are local, they can rest assured you’ll show up on time.
• Apply for a house sit during the busiest holiday times: Christmas, spring break, summer. That’s when a lot of homeowners are traveling, and some house sitters are not – so you’ll be more likely to snag a great first sit!
• Apply quickly! Some homeowners stop reading applications once they find someone they like.
Write an Irresistible Application Letter
When you apply for a house sit, your application letter will be your first contact with the homeowners, so it needs to be outstanding. Remember, you may be competing against several other house sitters.
When you apply for a house sit, don’t just focus on what you get out of house sitting. Remember, you are providing a valuable service, not looking for free vacation digs.
Treat the letter as you would any job application. Don’t just say, “Here’s my profile.” Tell the homeowner what you bring to the table. To write an exceptional letter, follow these tips:
• Address the homeowners by name.
• Respond to specific requests the homeowners mentioned in their posting (e.g., your ability to handle large dogs or your willingness to administer medication).
• Elaborate on what you have to offer the homeowners (e.g., your experience with maintaining pools or your ability to garden).
• Mention why you’d like to visit their community. Show some enthusiasm for their country or city.
• Be personal. Just as in your profile, the more you can show your personality when you apply for a house sit, the more likely you will grab attention.
• Indicate that you’ve researched visa requirements and flight costs and that these don’t pose a problem. This shows you are responding to them specifically, and that you’ve spent a bit of time researching their specific location. HouseSitMatch offers links to many countries’ visa requirements — one-stop “shopping” for all your house sitting needs!
• Offer an alternative way to reach you and a next step, which could be answering their questions by video chatting.
Conduct a Video Interview
Once you’ve been “short-listed,” request a video interview. It’s a key component when you apply for a house sit. This is an opportunity for the homeowners to interview you, but it’s also an opportunity for you to interview them. You need to decide if this is a good fit for you, too.
• During the call, ask for a visual tour of the home. Ask about the things that are most important to you (e.g., noise? smoke? location?).
• Ask about the pets’ needs, habits and peccadillos. Where do they sleep? Do they sleep through the night? Do the pets all get along with each other? Do they need medications? Any special diets?
When are the dogs walked? Do they have any triggers? What type of leads are used (harness, choke collar)? Can the dogs be off-lead? Ask as many questions as you can to determine if this is a good fit for you!
• If your call is going well and the sitting assignment will work for you, try to close the deal. Say: “I’m excited! What additional information can I give you? I’d love to care for Fido and your home!”
• If they offer you the sitting assignment, let them know that you have an agreement you’d like to email them. HouseSitMatch has an extensive checklist that includes information you’ll need about the home, pets and neighborhood.
• Finally, ask yourself: “If this sit is not as described (if the house is messy, the pets are more work than described), can I deal with it? Am I willing to take this chance to be in an area I want to explore, or to use this as a jumping-off point for other sits in the region, or to get initial experience?”
Be honest with yourself. If the answer is “no,” move along. Resist the temptation to “talk yourself into” a sitting assignment. The last thing you want is to be committed to an experience that is not right for you. There are plenty of other sits in the sea!
Hopefully, these tips will enhance your success when you apply for a house sit. Happy house sitting!
Kelly Hayes-Raitt stole most of these tips about how to apply for a house sit from her book How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the Housesit Diva. She firmly believes in recycling!
Further reading about housesitting and housesitters
At Housesit Match.com we like to share useful blogs and practical advice about house sitters, house sitting and pet sitting. We believe they can help you get started as a house sitter. We hope you find this small selection of our blogs on house sitters and house sitting in London useful.