Getting your first house sit is probably easier than you think. The one piece of advice I share with anyone who’s interested is ‘just go for it’. Don’t overthink. Sign up, put a profile together, upload some photos and start applying.
Of course it’s hard, even off-putting when you’re up against people with several five-star reviews, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. I started out with no experience and happened to get the first sit I applied for.
While I don’t get every single sit, that doesn’t matter. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone got in before you did. There might be a bit of a personality clash or you didn’t answer one of their questions as well as they’d have liked. Don’t dwell on it and definitely don’t take it to heart.
Here are the things would-be sitters should consider when trying to land their first house sitting gig.
Your profile might be the only look-in you get so make sure it’s an accurate representation of who you are. It can be pretty informal—mine is. Let people know what you do for a living, talk about any hobbies you have and why you’re keen to house sit. Have you cared for a friend or family members pet? Have you cared for your own pet? Mention your experience with animals. If you’re into gardening, I think that’s definitely worth a mention. Lots of properties require garden upkeep. Are you travelling as a couple and one of you has a trade? That’s something else owners might be keen to hear about.
The people who most often get house sitting positions are those who are proactive in their search. Regularly check the current ads to see if there is anything suitable. Contact home owners who are offering house sits that are of interest to you. The more homeowners you contact the better your chances of securing a house sit.
Now you might be wondering what kinds of photos you should include of yourself. I have a few selfies, but they’re ones of me on my travels. I don’t think selfies or group shots from a night out convey the ‘I can be trusted to keep your house in order while you’re away’ message to owners.
It’s a good idea to upload profile photos with animals, especially if you’re applying for a sit that includes looking after someone’s pet(s). If you haven’t house sat before you might want to upload a photo or two of your pets or even your friend’s pets. Better still, upload a photo of you with your pets. Sharing these kinds of photos reinforces just how much you like animals and that you’re comfortable looking after someone else’s. Some people’s pets are their children and they need to know they’ll be in safe hands.
Your message to a home owner shouldn’t be written like a cover letter. You don’t need to use big words; just make sure the words you do use are spelled correctly.
A few short paragraphs covering desirable traits like being organised and reliable, or a good communicator, works best. Home owners want to hear what skills you can bring to the table (or, well, their house). If something was to go pear-shaped while you’re looking after their home, they need to know you won’t freak out. If you’ve looked after a friend’s or family member’s house before, that’s probably worth mentioning. If they mention their pets name in their ad, say the name in your message to them; “I love Labradors and would really enjoy the chance to hang out with Chewy”.
Sign your application off with something like ‘I hope to hear from you soon’ and your name. I think ‘Sincerely’, ‘Kind regards’, etc. is a bit much for this type of communication. You want to be seen as approachable.
Some owners might want to chat with all their applicants first before they decide on which sitter is best for them. I’ve done quite a few Skype calls, but I’ve also been selected based on my written application alone. Mind you, this was after I had a few five-star reviews.
I remember taking a Skype call in my car (I was parked) after we missed each other earlier in the day. It was just a quick chat where the homeowner could form a better opinion about me and it gave me better insight into what she was looking for. She confirmed she was happy to have me before the call ended.
A video call is another chance to sell yourself. While some people might sound great on their sitter profile, it’s a different story when you start chatting. These calls also provide an opportunity for you to ask any questions you have about the sit.
Once you’ve secured your first sit, and you’ve got that five-star rating on your profile, there’ll be no stopping you. Some owners might want you back again and again. They might even mention you to their friends and family.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up and start your new adventure as a house sitter today, it’s easier than you think.
Madolline Gourley is a writer/editor from Brisbane, Australia.
She has travelled all around as a house and cat sitter, and can’t wait to take off again when it’s safe to do so.
Read more about her global cat sitting adventures on her blog, One Cat at a Time.
Like many owners using house sitters for the first time, Karen and Neil were understandably a bit nervous about how it would go however, their fears were put to rest as soon as they met their house sitters.
Just to let you know, we have had many requests for house sitting. The one we're doing at the moment is perfect, suits our time frame, the house is immaculate and extremely comfortable. We will be thrilled. A.P.