We are often asked how we manage to consistently secure back-to-back house sitting jobs in the locations of our choice.
Well, firstly let me tell you, we have had to put some work in to make this happen.
Home sitting assignments rarely just drop into our inbox, conveniently timed to make our life easy! There are a number of steps we take to help this process along, and I’m going to share our top 11 tips to help you get more house sitting jobs, more of the time!
1) Join More Than One House Sitting Platform
As full-time international house sitters, we don’t worry about the cost of joining house sitting platforms. Most subscriptions are only the equivalent of a night or two in a hotel or Airbnb. We figure the overall saving on our annual accommodation easily compensates this expense.
We see joining more than one house sitting platform as an investment. By signup up with two or three of the international sites, plus a local country based site (depending on our chosen location), we increase our house sitting opportunities and are more likely to fill gaps between sits.
Even if you are only house sitting for a couple of weeks each year, think about how much you are saving on accommodation and really weigh up how just a little more investment could open up more opportunities that fit your particular needs. This is especially true if you are a family, or if you have a pet of your own – two scenarios where you’ll find less gigs available.
Take a read of our popular house sitting platform comparison guide to see which sites we think are worth joining. You can also take advantage of some specially negotiated discounts too with TrustedHousesitters and HouseCarers.
2) Create a Personal House Sitting Website
We have created a personal house sitting website that lists all our previous sits and references, and we have a house sitting Facebook page, to show full transparency. Our personal Facebook pages are also set to public so that again, we have nothing to hide should a home owner want to check out our backgrounds.
As nomads who have sold up their properties, it’s difficult to get ongoing police clearance checks, but this internet transparency has worked in our favor.
By creating a personal house sitting website, we are able to keep all our references and photos in one place. This is where we refer owners when we make our home sitting applications. We’ve been told time and time again that the website was the reason we were selected over many other similarly qualified house sitters.
Why? “Because we got a really good feel for you as a couple”, and, “You look very professional – your website answered all our questions about using house sitters.”
If you’d like to find out more about easily setting up your own house sitting website then Ian recently completed a short course to help you get started. Take a look here: https://courses.housesittingmagazine.com/
3) Join a House Sitting Referral Group
When we started out we joined the House Sitting Academy which also gives us access to an exclusive private referral group (“The Inner Circle”) of house sitters and home owners. This has paid for itself over and over with house sits in some fabulous locations like Barbados, Mexico and the rural countryside of southern UK.
Another way to find referrals is by getting to know other house sitters – networking is key and https://housesitters.mapahub.com can help tremendously with this. It’s a place where you can connect with other like-minded house sitters and meet up in person, all over the world.
Now, four years into our adventure, our house sits are selected from house sit platforms, repeat sits, our own website/social media, and from referrals. That’s a good base from which to secure plentiful ongoing sits!
4) Find Sits Using an Aggregate Search Site
There are now two sites that allow you to search for sits across a range of house sitting platforms. Each one searches different platforms, so using both could be beneficial.
HouseSittingWorld.com searches across Nomador, HouseCarers, HappyHouseSitters and HouseSitMexico.
HouseSitSearch.com has wider coverage and also includes the largest international platform – TrustedHousesitters.
5) Be First to Apply for House Sitting Jobs – Set up Email Alerts
Once you’ve chosen which house sitting platforms to join, set up your email alerts (if this facility is available), so that each time someone posts an assignment that matches your filters, you get an email notification.
Your filters can usually include location, type of pets, duties and more, but we keep our filters pretty basic so we have a bigger catchment of assignments in the destinations of our choice.
Check alerts regularly.
With so many new people entering the house sitting arena, it’s becoming more important to check and respond to your alerts as quickly as possible. Many home owners stop the applications after just 10 responses.
Your email or message needs to be one of these first 10!
When I’m actively looking I keep the TrustedHouseSitters.com link open on my browser and check it regularly for new house sits. In this way I frequently get my application in the first 3.
TIP: When you are starting out, think creatively in terms of location. For instance, you may really want a house sit in Central London, but it’s often easier to travel into London by public transport from the suburbs, and you may find the house sits aren’t quite so competitive.
6) Know what you want when reviewing assignments
Obviously the location and dates are important, so we isolate those sits that fit the time period gaps on our calendar.
We don’t discount those that overlap a little – if they are close by we could separate to cover a day or two on overlapping sits.
We recently did this in Australia (with home owner consent) over the Christmas period, overlapping by just 3 days on two easy sits. In this way we were able to cover a period that might otherwise have been more difficult – again, maximize your possibilities by thinking outside the box.
Next we assess the home owner’s advert. We look for the following:
- A good representative selection of images of both the pets and the property.
- A well written, informative listing that details exactly what’s required throughout the sit in terms of both pets and the property – the more info the better. We are more attracted to sits where the owner is transparent about potential issues.
- Unusual requirements such as off-grid, swimming pools, or remote locations – we have the skill set to look after these properties, and less people generally apply.
- Firm dates – someone who hasn’t confirmed their dates doesn’t work for us. Furthermore there’s a possibility it’s simply an advert to see if house sitters are available, SHOULD they decide to book a holiday.
- We work online, so internet is important – high speed internet is a must. Make sure you take into account any work considerations and filter accordingly. Don’t forget you can ask for an internet speed test if in any doubt about connectivity.
7) Know What to Avoid
This is a list that will potentially grow as you become more established as a house sitter. It’s only after experiencing a number of different situations, in a variety of environments, that we’ve really identified what to avoid for our particular situation. Here are just a few of these items:
- No pictures on the listing is a no-no for us – there’s too much work involved in assessing whether the property and pets are a good match for us. But if you’re new to house sitting, or simply have more time, then you could choose to pursue further. However, beware of no pictures with just a 2 or 3 line house sit advertisement – that would definitely be a red-flag for us. Detail and matching expectations is key to a successful house sit – that should start with the advert.
- Any mention of deposits or payment for utilities, is another no for us personally. We prefer a trust based, payment free exchange that provides a win-win-win for the owners, the pets and us. That said we do understand that sometimes it’s worth considering utility payments on long-term sits, or if the sit is especially attractive.
- Because we still work online part-time we prefer not to have too many animals or pets that need a lot of continual daily care. Again this is personal to our particular situation and we don’t want to ever feel that we can’t give the required time to our charges.
8) Apply Quickly & Personalize Your Application
As soon as you’ve found an assignment that suits you, send in your application.
I think the key to success is to personalize your email or message and make connections. Talk about points from within the advert and use the pet’s names. If you identify with something in the listing, or perhaps know the area, then mention this. We often become friends with our home owners and this is usually because we find sits where we make like-minded connections.
When making an application, remember at all times that it is about fulfilling the home owner’s needs first, not your own. Talk about how you can do that. Draw on your experiences and put links to anything that can back up your application, such as your personal website, a blog you’ve written – anything to reaffirm your credibility.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you negate your own needs, but don’t make them the focus of your application.
We refer a homeowner to all of our references in one place on our website, but if you don’t have this, create a word document or a PDF that you can attach to your application. It helps to make this visual too – include pictures alongside your written references.
Offer to Skype or video chat at a time that suits them.
Be sympathetic to the fact that the homeowners are likely to be overwhelmed with enquiries, especially if they are in popular locations.
9) Maximize the exposure of your references in applications
We are often asked, “What if I’m new to a site and my references are on other platforms?”
This is a more common situation than you may think, especially if you want to increase your house sitting job opportunities by subscribing to more than one house sitting platform.
But don’t worry, it’s easily dealt with.
When we first joined TrustedHousesitters, we had to compete with house sitters that had 20+ references. Of course we took advantage of the facility to request reviews from people we’d previously sat for, but we also took some pro-active actions:
- Quote all or part of your best reference and insert it at the top of your profile.
- Add your most recent references from sits through other websites, to the end of your profile.
- Explain in your message that you are “new” to this particular website and that not all of your references are accessible. Direct the home owners to where they are available, with web links if possible.
- Consider creating a personal house sitting website with a “references” page.
10) Keep On Top Of Your Applications
When we don’t hear back within 5 days, we send a reminder message or email.
If we don’t hear back within a few days of this, we pretty much write off that application and move on. If a reply does happen to come through later, don’t feel bad if you’ve already found something else. You made the effort to connect and it wasn’t reciprocated.
This is an opportunity to remind home owners that they need to respond quickly these days to get the best house sitters – we often ask that they keep our details on record for future house sitting opportunities.
We’ve often found that slow responses equal patchy communication on an ongoing basis, which is worrying for us when we are filling a year round schedule. So, we do prefer to deal with people who take the time to respond promptly, even if it’s a cut and paste, “We’ve been overwhelmed with responses but we’ll get back to you soon”.
11) Take Stock Of What Your Intuition Is Telling You
After four years of house sitting, I can tell within a few seconds if a gig will work for us. My intuition is now highly tuned to house sitting expectations and I make sure to listen to what I’m being told.
On the one occasion we over-rode this to be in a fantastic location, we had our worst ever house sitting experience. We ignored all the red-lights presented to us, but did at least learn from this mistake!
Listen to your intuition when you first review a house sit online and most importantly once you start corresponding by email, and when carrying out a Skype interview.
Don’t ever be afraid to turn down a sit if it doesn’t feel right for you.
Does This All Seem Like Too Much Work?
Some house sits come easily, while others take a lot of back and forth communication and Skype chats.
In a sense, we see every house sitting application like applying for a job. Fortunately we’ve been very successful at securing most of the “jobs” we’ve applied for. In fact, out of our last 9 sits, we’ve been successful every time, so we must be doing something right. But it has taken time and effort.
If you think this is all too much work to get a house sit, then that’s probably why you are struggling to get house sitting jobs.
If you want to succeed, maximize your possibilities by investing time and money into using good house sitting platforms and sit alert resources, and by putting effort into refining your alerts and making your applications.
Don’t give up!
You’ll be sure to see a difference!