[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]ouse sitting is fast becoming the travel hack of choice for travellers and vacationers keen to subsidise the cost of their getaway.
When Ben and I first signed up to TrustedHousesitters.com a little over 3 years ago, the percentage of sitters to assignments was on a much more even keel. Competition was not as fierce as it is today and there wasn’t as much need to stand out from the crowd when applying for assignments.
With 20 assignments on our house sitting CV we’ve developed a portfolio of properties across the globe and received positive references from each home owner whose property we’ve cared for. Yet despite our vast experience in the field, we are still faced with the challenge of standing out against the competition as ‘the perfect sitters’ each time we send off an application.
Sadly there’s no proven formula for success.
Each assignment is unique and each home owner is looking for a different set of qualities in a house sitter. And while there are a number of things you can do to improve your chance of securing the assignments you apply for, the reality is that the fate of your application sits in the hands of the home owner.
So what can you do to give yourself the best chance of putting together a successful house sitting application?
[divider] OPTIMISE YOUR HOUSE SITTER PROFILE [/divider]
Many first time sitters are unaware of just how important your profile is. A window into your suitability for the assignments you apply for, your profile can make or break your application.
// Grab the home owner’s attention with a catchy profile heading. Ideally it should inspire the reader to look at your profile while offering insight as to why you are a grade A sitter.
// Provide a positive illustration of yourself through the images you upload. Make sure they are smiley and depict you engaging in activities that showcase your responsible and caring nature.
// Take the time to upload a video. Home owners are more likely to respond to your application if they have had the opportunity to hear from you detailing why you feel you are a suitable sitter.
// Fill in every section of your profile. The more comprehensive the description of your character, hobbies, suitability to house sit, the better equipped a home owner is to consider your application.
// Treat your profile like a CV, maintain a professional tone but offer insight into your personality. Have someone proof read your profile for spelling and grammatical errors.
// Upload suitable references from people who can verify your ability to care for a property and pets.
[divider] CREATE AN ENGAGING ONLINE PRESENCE [/divider]
It’s no secret that having a website or travel blog detailing the fact that you house sit, or even just offering insight into your character and lifestyle, can assist in securing house sitting assignments.
Taking the time to set up a simple tumblr or wordpress site that you can include in your application will pay dividends when competition for those Caribbean assignments heats up.
Angela Laws the blogger behind House Sitting Perfected is a great example of this. Her site showcases her house sitting CV and she regularly publishes updates from her international assignments.
[divider] RESEARCH ANY NICHE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LOCALE [/divider]
Now that your profile is in tip top shape you can start the search for your dream assignment. While excitement can get the better of you when you find a sit that suits, don’t rush into sending off your application.
While we all lose the ability for rational thought at the prospect of an assignment in paradise, researching the locale can help in your initial application.
When sending off your application to the owner you’ll stand out from the crowd if it is clear that you have taken the time to research the local area, consider any factors that may affect your ability to house sit, and ensured that you are comfortable stepping into their shoes.
Prior to constructing your application you should;
// Ensure you are eligible for a visa which covers the full term of the assignment.
// Research and consider the cost of travel to and from the property.
// Research current political and economic factors which may affect your stay.
[divider] TAILOR YOUR INITIAL APPLICATION EMAIL [/divider]
It’s no secret that your application email is where you win or lose the attention of the home owner.
The most popular assignments can receive up to 100 applications and with so many interested sitters to sift through, the home owner may get to the point where they read only the first few sentences of your email.
Make those first few lines count.
// Read the owner’s advert thoroughly and make reference to an aspect of their listed requirements which will show them you’ve considered each aspect of their listing.
// Be succinct in your description of your suitability for the assignment but ensure you highlight relevant experience and skills.
// Detail the fact that you’ve researched the local area and give reason as to why you wish to spend time in the region. Reassure the owner that you have researched the costs associated with travel to their home and that should they offer you the assignment you are in a position to commit and book your travel.
// Some sitters choose to address the email to any animals for whom the successful sitter will care for. This can help to catch the owner’s eye.
[divider] INVITE FURTHER CONVERSATION VIA EMAIL, SKYPE OR TELEPHONE [/divider]
Give the owner your contact details and invite further discussion. If you make it easy for them to contact you with further questions they are more likely to do so.
[divider] FOLLOW UP WITH FURTHER CONTACT IF APPLICABLE [/divider]
Don’t be pushy but if you feel it appropriate don’t be afraid to contact the owner requesting an update on your application.
Most owner’s send out some form of response within the first few days but if you do not hear anything I don’t think it’s out of line to inquire as to the progress of the selection process.
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Have you any top tips for house sitting success? Share your comments below.