You’re serious about getting a housesit. You’ve registered with a housesitting website, and you have started to apply for housesitting positions. You have optimized your profile, and now you finally have a message in your inbox: a homeowner liked your application and would like to chat with you.
How exciting! But this is just a start, and there are probably at least a few other candidates on a short list. In fact, the whole process is similar to a job application – you apply for the ‘role’, you are selected as one of the most fitting candidates, and now it is all about convincing the homeowners that you are the best applicant to fill the position.
Here are our tips to get an advantage over other housesit candidates.
If they were not included in the original application, send through your references from your previous housesits, or, if you lack experience, have references from friends, family and others who can vouch for you. Include email addresses and phone numbers of your references along with a quick explanation of who they are/how they know you.
Reply to their email thanking them and then suggest a Skype chat to ‘meet each other’. In the rest of the email, emphasize that you are still keen to care for the house, and how you are good for the role. If you are a huge cat lover and this housesit has three cats, make sure to emphasize that in your reply. If the housesitting assignment comes with a big garden and you have a ‘green thumb’ use that to your advantage. Always make sure to include examples for the statements you make. Be modest though don’t exaggerate, and be honest – don’t claim to be anything that you are not.
Win them over in the first Skype call / phone call
Trust is the most important element of a successful housesit. That first phone/Skype call is when you make that first impression and hopefully gain the homeowner’s trust. Thanks to Skype this can be done on camera, which is a way of really ‘meeting’ someone for the first time. (Download Skype here for free and you will be up and running in five minutes.)
Prepare well for the phone call. Note down all relevant facts from the advert and prepare questions to clarify what you would like to know as well. Don’t forget to read thoroughly through their homeowner profile to ensure you don’t ask anything you should know already, and you might also find something in the profile that makes it easier to connect in the first minutes. A casual comment like ‘I saw on your profile that you are a writer, too’ or ‘I saw that you and your husband also enjoy hiking’ indicates that you have something in common and can get the conversation going.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Practical information about the house, responsibilities and financial aspects such as who will cover utilities and Internet costs. You have to keep your deal breakers in mind, too, and the Skype call is a great time to learn more about the assignment. After all, you are going to be living in this house for a few weeks or even a few months, so even if they choose you, it is important to understand if this is the right housesit for you as well.
If the call goes well and both parties still seem interested, send a follow up email thanking them for the call, that you are still interested/excited about the opportunity and you will await their reply.
Don’t be too pushy
After a quick follow up email, lay low and let the homeowners talk to your references. Also, you are likely not the only candidate, so they will be talking to and checking references for others on the short list.
Depending on how far in advance the housesit is, follow up after a week or two if you still haven’t heard from them. If this was more short notice, then you can follow up sooner as you will have to plan your trip to the house.
It didn’t work?
If you get the dreaded email that the homeowners still chose somebody else, don’t be too upset. Homeowners gets dozens, sometimes hundreds of applications, and no matter how good your references are, and even you feel like the phone call went well, another applicant might have been a better fit this time.
Email back politely. Tell them they can still get in touch for further housesitting opportunities or should the other candidate drop out for some reason. Homeowners are very likely to return to a candidate they were in touch with in the past if they go on vacation again. If the location is really interesting to you, don’t hesitate to have them pass on your details to other homeowners who might need a housesitter in the future. All the housesitting websites in the world are no match for personal recommendations between neighbors!
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