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IF you want a great house sitting job one of your first tasks is to write a great application. I’m sure some of you are thinking your days of writing application letters ended with the last job for which you applied. Well … unfortunately the application letter is just as necessary to house sits as it is to employment. In fact, if you think about it, it’s not really all that different. Think of house sitting as your career, and your application letter as the first step into the new position.
And, if you do it right, after a while you’ll have to write fewer letters as your happy hosts invite you back and spread the word. Hey presto – just like getting other jobs!
So, how do you write that letter? And when I say letter, I mean any written communication you send a host to introduce yourself and seek that all-important response.
It's all about your host
Your first priority
Before I go into the detail there’s one overarching theme that must permeate all your interactions with your hosts — make the hosts, their pets and their needs your top priority. When a host is assessing the applications for house sitting jobs they will be looking for how you can help them. They want to know what qualities, skills and experiences you’ll bring to the sit.
While your travel history and fitness expertise might be interesting to you they’re are not necessarily what your host will want to read about. Our hosts’ feedback has given us a really good idea of what hosts have appreciated in our approaches.
Your application letter must tell the host something about you, but focus on their needs and how you can meet them.
House sitting jobs must suit you, too
Having said that we are not suggesting you become a doormat. House sitting is a two-way street. The best house sitting jobs are based on mutual respect and an exchange of skills, experience and interests. We regard it as a privilege to be invited into someone’s home and our hosts’ preparation, care and support indicates they feel much the same way about us.
Consider your own needs carefully and apply only for sits that fit with what you can offer. This post might help you get clearer about these things.
Eight steps to successful house sitting job applications
All letters will be different, of course, depending on to whom you are writing and their needs. But we think there are eight essential parts of a good house sitting jobs application letter.
1. Host and pets' names
Address the host by name and mention their pets’ names. While this might seem obvious it’s amazing how many people forget this simple courtesy. Most people like to hear their own name and knowing their pets’ names shows you have read their profile and are genuinely interested.
2. Your name and occupation
Again, while it might seem obvious, you must let your host know your name. You may have included this in your profile on the site you are using but, regardless, include your first and last name in your house sit job application letter. This is a matter of transparency, showing people that you are serious about your role as a house sitter. The difference between John and John Smith can be vast.
You may wish to include your occupation for much the same reason. It demonstrates that you can hold positions of responsibility. You don’t have to be the CEO of a major multinational, just someone who understands how to follow through on commitments.
If your job relates to something that would be of direct benefit to your host it’s a great idea to mention it. So if you’re a dog trainer and they want you to look after dogs, don’t be shy.
3. Reasons you want the house sitting job
For the love of animals
We love animals, especially dogs and cats. When we read about the pets we can get a sense of what sort of animals they are and whether they will enjoy coming on walks with us or just cuddling up on the sofa.
We’ve found when we take a break from our house sitting job we miss animals. They make the experience so much richer and we love knowing that we’ve helped the hosts have a stress-free holiday and kept the pets happy in their owners’ absence.
It’s pretty obvious why most people want to house sit. They do it for one or two primary reasons – to travel and/or save money. If you are travelling and there’s somewhere you really want to go for whatever reason, let your host know. We went to Egypt for the amazing pyramids, the Netherlands for the culture, Switzerland for the mountains and England for the beautiful, green landscapes and historic buildings.
People generally take a lot of pleasure when others enjoy their home town. If they know you are coming to an area that specifically interests you they may feel more sure of your commitment.
We find hosts really want us to enjoy their locations. They often provide lots of useful information about the best things to do and see and it’s great to get local insights.
We are the long-term, slow-travel variety of tourist, so we’re looking for the opportunity to explore our destinations in a relaxed way. Our house sitting job provides the perfect opportunity for us to travel the way we want. We’re not bucket-list-focussed though we don’t object to visiting popular tourist trails once in a while. Every destination has its unique characteristics and we love wandering around to discover them.
This style of travel is ideally suited to the house sitter. You’re not wedded to anyone else’s schedule. If you want to spend a rainy day on the sofa, watching Netflix and patting the cat, you can.
4. Respond to the host's needs
Read all information you have about the sit and your hosts’ situation before writing your house sitting job application. Note the hosts’ preferences and specific requests about their pets. For example, if the pets have health problems and require medication, let the host know your experience administering pills, injecting insulin or changing dressings. If they mention wanting the sitter to come a day or two early, let them know in your letter if you are able to meet that requirement.
5. Give concrete examples of your experience and skills
We try not to generalise our experience. Specific, positive experience with particular pets can be very attractive to hosts. For example, we’ve cared for retrievers and they can be quite challenging, especially when they are young and strong. When applying for a sit with a retriever we might mention this. Another example is if your host has a swimming pool and wants someone to be able to look after it. We tell prospective hosts about homes where we’ve looked after pools.
6. Provide reviews or references
Your references are really your most powerful tool in getting a new house sitting job. We have found that the more positive reviews we have the greater likelihood we have of acquiring new house sitting jobs. Hosts look for social proof from their peers — other hosts. Quite a few have mentioned our high quality reviews when responding to our applications. We always draw attention to our reviews in our letter by referring the host back to Trusted Housesitters where most of our reviews are held. Sometimes we apply for a sit through a site where we don’t have a lot of reviews. In this case we include excerpts from our Trusted Housesitters reviews or refer them back to Trusted Housesitters and our own website.
7. Express a positive attitude -- be enthusiastic and friendly
This one is pretty straightforward. Attitude is everything. For hosts to invite you into their home they will want to feel a connection with you. So, in your letter, show your genuine enthusiasm and friendliness.
When we started house sitting I was wary of big dogs, the result of an unpleasant experience as a child. Besides quite a few adorable small dogs we have now cared for medium-sized and big dogs and my attitude has changed. All the dogs we’ve met have been fun loving, sweet natured, affectionate and great comopany. I now look forward to spending time with breeds such as labs, retrievers, border collies and airedales.
So when we send a house sitting job application that says we would love to care for the hosts’ dogs, we mean it.
8. Ask to meet and provide contact details
Last but not least, don’t forget to ask for a meeting in person or online. Give the hosts a few contact options and some broad time frames that might suit, and let them take it from there. If they don’t come back to you, give them a gentle nudge.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on the way to finding your ideal house sitting job. Good luck on your journey.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. What’s your experience of writing house sitting job application letters?