We are not homeowners. We have never owned pets as adults ourselves. We had no house sitting experience. And yet, we got the very first sit we applied for. Maybe it was something to do with the tens of job applications that Stacie has applied for in the past couple of years — you do get good at selling yourself. Maybe holding two PhDs makes us seem responsible. Or maybe our desires to build a peripatetic lifestyle resonates with people. But we’ve now secured over 15 sits in total and are usually booked up for months ahead of time.
Here are our top 10 tips on building your international house sitters profile:
1. Become international house sitters by starting small
As a general rule, the longer the sit, the more applications it will attract. If you’ve never house sat before, doing weekend or short-term sits close to home will help you get a feel for house sitting, build up your profile, and get you some of those all-important references. Maybe you’ll even discover different parts of your city or your country like we did during a sit in Oxford.
2. Explain why you want to be international house sitters
Be clear about who you are and why you want to house sit: saying you want a free holiday isn’t going to get you many sits! Mention what you’ll be doing whilst you’re sitting and how much time you’ll be spending in the home. Always discuss any confirmed or potential travel plans: are you already planning to be in the area for the dates of the sit? One unsuccessful response we received cited that they’d found someone closer by. We hadn’t mentioned on our profile (or even in our message!) that we were actually going to be in that country prior to the sit.
3. Showcase your relevant experiences
What relevant experience do you have looking after homes and animals? Our profile emphasises that we were long-term renters prior to house sitting, how we treated the flat as our own, and how we pride ourselves on never having lost a deposit! We also (naturally) discussed our past experiences with pets, especially ones who weren’t our own, no matter for how long or short a period of time. For example, one of our Airbnb rentals turned into a mini cat sit after the host decided to stay elsewhere for a couple of nights.
4. Emphasise you have the necessary qualities to be international house sitters
What experiences do you have that demonstrate that you are responsible and reliable? Welcoming someone into your home and trusting them to look after your pets is a big decision. Include examples from your personal and professional life to demonstrate you can be trusted and are a stable choice.
5. Check out how established international house sitters present themselves
Look at others’ profiles: most websites features their top sitters on their homepage and browsing through them will give you some ideas about what information to include in your own profile.
6. But don’t just copy other international house sitters’ profiles
Approach other international house sitters’ profiles with a critical eye. Be selective and true to yourself in the parts you appropriate: we looked at a lot of profiles and took some elements we liked. There were other things we didn’t like and wouldn’t feel comfortable saying. For example, we saw a couple in their thirties whose profile intimated that they were younger than the average house sitter. We are literature graduates and might pay a little too much attention to meanings conveyed through language, but this seemed to say that there’s a perceived, narrow model of what a house sitter is (there isn’t!). We tend to concentrate on the positives of who we are and what makes us good international house sitters, rather than who we are not.
7. Regularly update your international house sitters profile
Keep your profile up-to-date, preferably after each sit: new experiences, new arrangements, new responsibilities, and new photos will boost your profile. It’s also important for home and pet owners to know your current circumstances and location.
8. Always proofread your international house sitters profile
Proofread, check your spelling and grammar, and read your profile aloud. Yes, again, we’re literature graduates.
9. Be proactive communicators
Apply, reply, and follow up: it pays to keep the conversation going! Our first international sit actually came out of an unsuccessful application for a longer sit later that year. In fact, many of our unsuccessful applications result in an offer of a subsequent sit at a later date. Always reply to messages courteously and in good time. Having strong communication skills also adds to the perception of you being trustworthy and reliable.
10. Be resilient international house sitters
Don’t give up! Perseverance is key. Some homeowners will have a very specific idea of the sitter they want — which may or may not be communicated in the listing! For example, one host liked our profile, but felt that the ‘stability’ they wanted could be better provided by an older, retired couple. Another time, we interviewed for a sit that had received over 80 applications; yet the specific circumstances of the sit, which hadn’t been previously mentioned but came out in the Skype conversation, meant it would not have been a good fit for the vast majority of the applicants. More often than not, however, homeowners will have really difficult decisions to make and it can just come down to the sitter(s) they gelled with best. Once we narrowly missed out on three sits in a row over the course of a few weeks, which felt like a big blow, but it helped us reflect on how we’re managing these initial conversations. Always try to take away something from each interaction with potential hosts.
We’ve found nearly all of our house sits with TrustedHousesitters.com. If you’re interested in house sitting or looking for house sitters, we really recommend them. You can receive 20% off membership by using our affiliate referral code: RAF157338 (apply it on checkout).
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