A couple of weeks ago, we did a post about saving money on accommodations through house sitting. We shared how the process works, the three best websites to join, and our experience of saving at least $7,000 over the past year on housing in Costa Rica. Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get to the details of how to land your first assignment. After all, the word has gotten out about the benefits of house sitting. It seems that everyone is jumping on board as a way to fund their travel adventures, and with all of the competition, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd. The key is to build a killer profile. Over the past year, we’ve had a chance to tinker with ours to see what works and what doesn’t. Below are our top 5 tips for building the perfect profile.
Discount Code: If you still need to sign up for a house sitting membership, check out the bottom of this post for an exclusive discount code to save 10%.
Tip 1: Show that you’re trustworthy and responsible but sprinkle in some personality
Getting a house sitting job is much like getting any job. Homeowners want someone taking care of their home who is responsible, experienced, and has common sense to deal with problems that may arise. But they also want to like you as a person if they’re going to have you living in their precious house, so make sure your personality really shines through. Your job in writing your profile is to get all of this across as concisely as possible, as homeowners will probably spend less a minute on your page.
How do you do that? Start by providing any relevant experience. If you’ve house sat before, references from homeowners obviously carry a lot of weight. But even if you haven’t done a formal house sit, you can get creative with what counts as experience. If you’ve watched a friend’s house and dog for a week, say that. If you’ve owned a home, say that. After all, if you’ve had your own home, you know what can go wrong and the necessary steps to take to fix it. That’s what you’ll be doing when you house sit so it’s definitely relevant. Even skills like gardening or handyman work can be helpful, especially since people are looking for someone that could say, unclog a toilet without having to call an expensive plumber.
References: If you’re using one of the sites that allow you to include references in your profile like Trusted Housesitters, make sure to have at least a few. When you’re just starting out, you can request them from employers, professors, or anyone else who can review your character and work ethic. When we first started, we each asked our supervisors at our old jobs and a neighbor from our condo association to write one.
Worried that you don’t have any references from homeowners? Don’t be. If you build a great profile, at some point, someone will take a chance on you. We ended up getting our first house sit because the original sitter backed out last minute and the homeowners needed someone right away. Unlike other candidates, we were available right then because we were already moving to Costa Rica.
What’s most interesting though is that we didn’t even get that house sit through one of the house sitting websites. We placed an ad in the local e-newsletter in the area of Costa Rica we wanted to live, linking to our Trusted Housesitters profile to lend more credibility. The homeowners didn’t even usually read that newsletter, but for some reason, they opened it one day and were already members of Trusted Housesitters so the process was seamless. The message is get creative. Advertise in anything that a homeowner might read: local newsletters, community boards, online forums, etc. You never know who you might be reaching.
Tip 2: Craft a solid headline and have a few profile photos
Your headline and photo are your first impression. When the homeowner is scrolling through the hundreds of people available in their area, your profile and photo has to make them stop and click.
Headline: The headline should summarize what you want to get across in your entire profile. It’s your theme. For ours, we use the big keyword “experienced.” Before we had done any house sits, we used “responsible” instead of “experienced.” We’re only looking for long-term house sits now so we include that as well in order to prevent being contacted about short-term gigs. If you’re only interested in house sitting in one particular area, the headline would be a good place to state so.
For those of you planning to house sit as a way to live abroad, if you’re already in-country, say it in the headline. We think it puts homeowners at ease to know that we’re already here, making us less likely to back out at the last minute. Plus, homeowners love meeting in advance if possible so that they can get comfortable with you, and you with their house/pets.
Photos: Your photos should be professional but it’s good to have some more fun ones to get your personality across. If you love traveling, include a photo from one of your favorite trips, or if you love boating, include one of you out enjoying the water.
If you want to land jobs with pets, also be sure to include photos of you caring for your favorite furry friends.
Tip 3: Select individual cities/towns on your profile page
This is a big one that a lot of people don’t know about. Some of the house sitting websites allow you to list specific cities/towns you’re available in. Mind My House and House Carers both have this feature, and we’ve been told that we were practically the only people available in a specific town in Costa Rica. And this wasn’t a teeny tiny town; this was Nosara, a well known tourism destination. Being one of a handful of available sitters significantly increases your chances of landing a job.
So don’t just list entire countries in your profile. Get out the map and list every major town you’re interested in. We learned this little tidbit after reading the fine print on House Carers about how results were filtered when a homeowner does a search.
Be sure you understand how each of the sites work. Spend some time in the Support/FAQs section of each website to maximize your ranking in the site’s search engine.
Tip 4: Take advantage of the Google factor
Homeowners can’t see your last name from your profile, but some of the house sitting websites allow you to link to external sites. Give them more reason to pick you by linking to your online business, LinkedIn profile, or other professional site with which you’re associated. Some homeowners have come right out and told us that they checked out our book or Two Weeks in Costa Rica page, and then Googled us to see what else they could dig up. Since we have our whole story on the web, they immediately felt like they knew us better.
Tip 5: Sign up for alerts for your desired location
Some homeowners don’t want to deal with getting an influx of responses to an ad, so they won’t post an ad at all but will hand pick potential house sitters and contact them directly. This is where it helps to have a solid profile with lots of house sitting experience. When you’re just starting out though, you’re much more likely to have to respond to an ad to get a job.
Your goal is to be among the first to respond. Most of the websites allow you to sign up for e-mail alerts when a homeowner lists an ad in one of your preferred locations. You get the notification shortly after it’s posted, before it’s posted on the website, giving you an advantage. We’ve read stats about how being among the first to respond significantly increases your odds and have found this true in our experience as well.
If you follow these tips when building your profile, you’re sure to land a house sit. It might take some time, but just like any other job, the hardest part is getting the first one. After we got our first assignment last year, we were able to line up more for all but three months of the year.
Trusted Housesitters Discount Code
We are very excited to have teamed up with Trusted Housesitters to get our readers a special discount on house sitting memberships. If you want to sign up for a Trusted Housesitters membership or need to renew your existing membership, follow these instructions to save 10%.
Visit Trusted Housesitters using the following link (https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/trusted-housesitters) and enter the code COSTARICA at check-out. You’ll save 10% on any membership plan you choose, including renewals!
If you purchase a membership using the link above, we’ll receive a small commission. This costs you nothing extra and actually gets you the 10% discount. We recommend signing up for Trusted Housesitters, along with Mind My House and House Carers, if you’re serious about getting a house sit in Costa Rica and would make this recommendation even if we weren’t affiliates.
Have a lingering question that we didn’t answer? Ask it below!
Post by: Matthew Houde and Jennifer Turnbull-Houde