How To Apply For A House Sitter Position
If you haven’t read the first part of this series about what house sitting is all about and if it’s right for you head here to check it out. We’ll wait…
So you’ve joined a site or two and created your profile. The next stage is obviously where you’ll start applying for house sitter positions. You may never have done this before, so here are a few key tips to get you started and moving in the right direction.
Be Selective About Who And Where You Apply To
Don’t just start firing off applications to every new opportunity that appears. It’s a good idea to be as selective as possible concerning who you apply to and where you’re going. If you don’t really fancy a vacation in Paris, don’t apply there. If the home owner has too many restrictions concerning who they’ll accept for a position and you don’t meet enough of the various criteria, don’t waste your time, particularly when you’re starting out. Remember you’re competing with a lot of others so focus on fewer places and spend more time on those.
Always Personalise Your Initial Message To A Home Owner
This is true in just about anything you’ll read on this site. If you’re applying to Couchsurf or just about anything else. It’s an excellent habit to get into when you personalise each and every application. While working out an automated query letter can save you time, it can backfire if your letter seems too pre-planned. No home owner wants to get a letter that reads like it came from an automated program and there’s very few times this will actually ever work. Just don’t do it.
Write a friendly, personalised letter that shows the owner that you read their advertisement and familiarised yourself with their needs and wishes. If they specifically ask for a person with experience sitting Tasmanian Devils and you happen to have spent 2 years in the Tasmanian zoo, make sure you mention it. This will shoot you to the top of the list.
At the same time, be very careful not to promise anything that you can’t deliver. Don’t respond to a strict demand to shovel snow at a property in New Hampshire if you don’t feel inclined to do so or if you aren’t physically capable of such intensely physical work. You’ll get a very bad reference from an unhappy home owner if you don’t deliver exactly what you promise. This will come back to bite you so just do the right thing and be honest. Chances are that honesty is what will get you your first job and then from there it’ll snowball.
Finally, keep your application short and to the point. No one wants to read War and Peace with extra diagrams and a thousand hyperlinks. As you fill out more of these, you’ll learn how to present all the facts in a manner that is concise, memorable, and readable. Less is better but memorable is still crucial. It’s an artform and one you’ll get better at over time.
Apply To Ads As Soon As They Appear
When a new ad appears that catches your interest, be sure to apply straightaway. Don’t wait too long because you simply don’t know how long the ad will be up before someone else shoots in to claim the position. Time is of the essence in this situation.
Keep in mind that a home owner may be deluged with 30-40 responses within a few short hours of putting up their ad. One of the ways in which an owner may choose to deal with the overwhelming volume of responses is to only sift through the first dozen or so. This is precisely why your response needs to be in as soon as possible.
As Soon As You Get A Response, Answer It
If you are lucky enough to receive a response from your initial inquiry, be sure to answer it as soon as possible. A quick, courteous, and detailed response shows that you are taking the position in a professional manner and thus increases your chances of actually getting the job. Be flexible and try your best to accommodate them and you’ll be on your way.
If you can arrange to meet the home owner in person, it’s an excellent idea to do so. There is only so much you can learn about a person via the Internet. Even if you have instant messaged or Skyped with someone, you’ll still generally have a far better idea of that person’s personality and general trustworthiness if you speak with them face to face.
If you’re going to be travelling overseas, it’s obviously harder to arrange a personal meeting. If you can manage to get a cheap flight over to the location to meet in advance, definitely go for it. If not, keep talking via email and Skype until the home owner is absolutely convinced you’re the right person for the job. In any situation, frequent and honest communication is always the best policy. Oftentimes there will be a few days or at least a day where you will live with the home owner before they leave. That’s becoming more common and is a really great way to make sure everything is above board. While it’s probably too late to do much at that late stage, it’s still great to be able to spend a little time learning more about each other. It’s worth the investment and you’ll probably end up close friends with them too.
Get Your Home Sitting Arrangement In Writing
It’s an excellent idea to get your home sitting arrangement in writing – or electronically is ok in this new fan dangled digital age. In fact, if you don’t do this don’t even bother. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings, especially those that might result in possible legal action. Get the rules and conditions set in stone as much as possible so as to ensure that your house sitter experience will be free from unexpected snags and complications. Don’t do it in a way that will make the owner nervous, just let them know you want to get everything in writing so you’re 100% sure of everything you’ll need to do and your obligations. That way you won’t have any chance of missing anything or forgetting. It’s in everyone’s best interest. There are plenty of templates out there you can use but this one and this one are both a good place to start. Make sure you find one that suits you though!
Some of the things that could be included in the arrangement might include:
- How long you will be expected to occupy the house.
- What hours of the day will you definitely be in the home in order to be contacted by the owner and to take care of necessary tasks.
- What sort of maintenance will you be required to perform at the property while you are there? (Answering the phone, raking leaves, housecleaning, etc.)
- What duties will you be required to perform as far as pet sitting?
- How many days should you arrive before the house is handed over to you?
- Should you vacate the property a day before the owner returns? Or should you be there to hand over the keys in person when they arrive?
- Whether or not you are allowed to have friends or relatives come to visit you during your stay at the property.
There’s much more as well but those are certainly vital to have in writing at some point. Look at using one of the forms above and everyone will be covered.
Have An Emergency Arrangement In Place
While it most likely won’t come to this, it’s still a good idea to have an emergency plan in place in case something goes wrong. If a disaster (flood, fire, earthquake) should strike the property or the general area and you need to evacuate, it’s important to let the owner know what’s going on. Likewise, if an emergency in your personal life, such as the serious illness or death of a family member should occur, there should be an arrangement in place to cover for you while you return home.
Other types of emergencies should also be prepared for in advance. You may need a way to cover for a mishap at the property, such as the need to call an electrician or a plumber that would be outside of your control but crucial to get fixed urgently. The owner’s pet may suddenly fall ill and need to be taken to the vet. You should be able to have something in place with the owners that will cover you in this instance. Some do it via Paypal and have a great relationship and trust each other and some may need to be a little more creative. There are some that have the local veterinarian know they’re away and if anything should happen they’ll look after their pet and charge them when they return. The same may apply to an electrician or handyman. Just be certain you have all the details.
Have A Contact In the Area
If you are staying in a foreign country, or even a place closer by, it’s a good idea to have someone in the area that you can contact in case of an emergency. A personal friend or family member, whether yours or the property owner’s, is a good first choice. This is especially important if you will be staying at the home for an extended period of time and aren’t especially fluent in the language of that country. This is in addition to the emergency contacts. It pays to be prepared!