How to write a successful housesit application
After almost three years of full time housesitting, we’ve written our fair share of application letters! While we haven’t been successful 100% of the time, our confirmation rate is high and we attribute this partly to the informative and thoughtful application letters we write. After crafting so many letters, we now have a basic template for applications that we tweak and personalise for every housesit we apply to. Here we’ll go through our top tips for making your application sparkle and stand out against the competition!
Before we get started, it should go without saying: The most important thing to do when you’re applying for a housesit is to read through the listing thoroughly! After casting our eyes over SO many housesit listings over the years, we don’t just read the information any more – we also pick up on the general vibe and attitude of the host through their writing. We consider listings with barely any information, like one or two sentences per section or missing information about their pets, to be a red flag. It’s not always conducive to a terrible housesit or dishonest hosts, but we like to have all the information we’ll need available to us on the listing before we apply – that way there’s less chance of surprises later on in the process. We’ve become adept at taking into account when things feel off and though it’s not always possible to avoid difficult housesits, we’re sure that thoroughly reading things through before excitedly jumping in with both feet has saved us a lot of stress in the long run. You can read more of our housesit listing red flags here.
Make sure you’re able to commit to the dates listed, and research how you’ll get to the place if it’s stated that it’s not easily accessible via public transport and you don’t have your own vehicle. Again, this saves time further down the line if you suddenly discover you have no idea how you’ll get there, and can’t rely on the homeowner to pick you up. Take notes of specifics, for example if the homeowner is looking for single female applicants only, or needs someone who is extremely confident with horses or administering medication to cats (these are the three most common ones we encounter). Be sure you’re completely comfortable with the responsibilities listed, before applying, to save from wasted time for both parties.
We’ve been using Trusted Housesitters for the majority of our housesitting travels, so for the purposes of this page we’ll use their listings as a template. Trusted Housesitters is for house and pet sitting, so we’ll be referencing animal care too.
If you’d like to give it a go for yourself, you can use our link (or our code – RAF89928) to receive 25% off an annual Trusted Housesitters membership!
So, you’ve found a housesit that you want to apply for. You’ve checked your availability and you feel comfortable with all the information provided – great! Below are the key points from our application letter. We’ll go through these step-by-step before looking at general points to consider, to help your application stand out, at the bottom of this page.
Our typical housesitting application letter breaks down like this:
- Addressing the homeowner and referring to the housesit dates
- A short introduction
- Our experience, being specific and referring to the information given on the housesit listing
- Practical information
- Ways to continue the conversation
1. Addressing the homeowner
We always begin our housesitting applications with:
‘Hi (name/s), we would love to come and housesit for you in (month)’
If owners have introduced themselves as a couple in the listing, use both of their names to let them know you’ve read the listing through. It shows that you’re putting in that extra effort as opposed to only using the name on the profile, or just saying ‘Hi’. We make sure to reference the date or month of the sit too, in case there are multiple dates listed and to simply reconfirm the dates. This becomes a little reminder to check that you are definitely free for the housesit, and gives the homeowner an opportunity to check they’ve listed the dates correctly and clarify which sit dates you’re applying for.
2. A short introduction
In our opening paragraph we give a brief background about who we are, what we do and why we housesit. Generally something along the lines of:
‘We are a couple in our late twenties / early thirties and have been together for nine years. Chris works as a freelance web developer and Suze makes handsewn home decor items for her online shop. As we both work from home we’ve had lots of time to look after pets for friends and family which we really enjoy, and this started us on our housesitting journey! At the end of 2017 we gave up our flat to housesit our way around the U.K. and do what we love most – play with animals and spend our time together! We travel from housesit to housesit and we’re really enjoying our nomadic way of life.’
We feel this helps to set up for the next paragraph – detailing our experience – as it gives the homeowner a bit of background information. It also helps to mention any hobbies that are relevant to the sit you’re applying for, such as being a keen walker if you’re applying to look after an active dog.
3. Our experience
The length of this paragraph will depend on how much experience you have to date. As we’ve now completed so many different housesits, 98% of the time we can provide details of our time at a previous sit that is similar to the one we’re applying for. For example if the sit involves caring for a breed of dog that we’ve encountered before, we make a point of mentioning that. If the housesit is looking after a snake, for example, we could say:
‘While we haven’t looked after a snake before, we have completed housesits looking after geckos and bearded dragons in similar environments, and are keen to learn more about caring for snakes in particular.’
Of course, only apply to look after pets that you feel comfortable with! But if you’re genuinely interested in expanding your pet care knowledge, it doesn’t hurt to tell the homeowner if you’ve looked after similar animals. Or even if you haven’t – be honest and they may be willing to give you that experience!
In regards to more specialist cases, such as being required to administer medication to a pet, it’s always best to be open and let the owner know if you haven’t had to do so before. If you have, definitely write that into your application so they know you’ll be comfortable doing so with their pets. Above all, just be honest about your skills and leave it to the homeowner to decide whether you’re the best person to care for their pets and home in their absence. The more specific you can be about your skills, the better – we write in all our applications that we’re very used to settling into new routines as we’ve completed over fifty housesits. This helps put the homeowners at ease that we’ll easily be able to adjust our days to their pets’ needs.
We recommend changing up your experience paragraph each time you apply for a housesit so that you can tailor it to each homeowner’s requirements. There’s not much point writing about your extensive knowledge of cat behaviour if you’re applying to pet sit a flock of sheep! You could list a few of the animals you’ve cared for so that they know that you have a wealth of pet care experience, but try to make it as relevant to the listed responsibilities as possible.
4. Practical information
After explaining your background and skills, including as much relevant information as you can, a good way to round off your application is by giving the homeowner some practical information. This involves facts such as whether you’re a non-smoker, or if you have your own transport. We always mention if we’ve visited the area before – as we’ve covered, it’s good to be as specific as possible and you never know if these details will give you the edge over another applicant. When applying to a London housesit, for example, we include:
‘We previously lived in London for several years so we’re confident with getting around the city.’
It’s another way to put the homeowner’s mind at ease that you will be comfortable and competent on the sit, and gives them one less aspect to worry about.
5. Ways to continue the conversation
Before signing off an application, offer the homeowner a couple of easy ways to carry on the conversation. Instead of giving out our personal email address or phone number where we might miss the message, in the initial application we first suggest the idea of arranging a video call or phone call to discuss the details should they choose us as their housesitters.
We find that video/phone calls are a great way to speak to people and get a feel for their vibe without having to travel to meet in person, which can be costly and difficult to arrange around all our schedules. We always let the homeowner know they can ask us any questions in the mean time too. The easier it is to get in touch with you the higher up you’ll be on the list of applicants – especially if it’s a last minute sit. In these situations we’d recommend regularly checking messages or downloading the housesitting company’s app, if there is one, so you can reply to messages promptly and keep the conversation flowing.
After we’ve signed off the application we add a P.S. with a link to our Instagram. This isn’t essential, but it’s yet another opportunity for homeowners to learn more about us. And if they can click through to see even more photos of us having fun with pets at housesits, it backs up everything we’ve written about genuinely enjoying taking care of animals!
General points to consider when applying & tips for keeping on top of applications:
- Make sure your housesitter profile is up to date and shows your skills. Upload varied and clear photos, use all the boxes to write about yourself, and keep your availability calendar up to date. This all helps to answer any questions the homeowner might have that weren’t covered in your application letter. There are so many opportunities to stand out when crafting your profile, so we’ve compiled our tips for creating a successful housesitter profile on a whole new page!
- Let the homeowner know why they should choose YOU by writing relevant information. It’s good to let them get to know you but remember, you’re effectively applying for a job and they will pick you based on how well they think you can do that job. You’re not likely to secure a housesit by rambling about how much you looooove the beach and have been dying to visit Hawaii. Add details into your application so the owners will be able to tell that you’ve read their listing properly, and know that you understand what’s required of you.
- It’s important to express why you’re well equipped for the sit, but try not to sound as if you’re already booked in! We are careful with the language we use so we don’t come off as presumptuous – the last sentence in our letter is always along the lines of: ‘If this all sounds good to you, we can arrange a phone/video call…’
- Arrange to speak to the owners before confirming a sit, even it’s only for ten minutes over the phone. It’ll help you get more of a feel for whether the sit is right for you, and let you know what the homeowners will expect of you too. You can download a PDF of our checklist of questions to ask homeowners to make sure you get all the info you’ll need! It helps to be accommodating where you can – neither of us work 9-5 so we can be flexible when scheduling a call around a time that best suits the homeowner. Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to drive from London to Edinburgh to meet the pets for five minutes just because the homeowner asks you to! In most cases a video call or phone call is adequate enough for homeowners to get a good idea of how you’ll manage on the sit. Twice we’ve agreed to meet homeowners before being confirmed, and both were for more unusual animals (alpacas, then donkeys) and in both cases it was a mutually beneficial meeting to make sure we were all comfortable. In the end, it’s a judgement call on your part and you should decide what suits you.
- Always be polite in your communication, even if the owner responds to tell you they’ve declined your application. Be friendly and thank them for getting back to you anyway. It’s not always personal – they may have already been halfway through booking another sitter when you applied. It’s best to leave the conversation on good terms so that, should they list dates in the future, you can apply again.
- When looking at two or more housesits where the dates overlap, we recommend only applying for one at a time. We wouldn’t feel right applying for multiple sits over one set of dates, only to get confirmed for both and have to tell a homeowner that we can no longer commit to their sit. We don’t enjoy the feeling of letting people down, but it also helps us to keep on top of our plans and avoid date clashes. We use a shared spreadsheet to mark out which dates we’re available for, on top of updating our availability on our housesitting profile. To stay organised like us, you can download a PDF template of our travel calendar.
We hope that you’ve found this page helpful. If there’s anything you think we’ve missed, or if you need help writing your application letter, get in touch! If you have any application letter tips of your own, share them in the comments below!