You could ask her for a couple phone or email references, since she has no references posted.
If she’s local, you could also have her over to meet you and the animals in person.
I had a lot of sitting experience before joining THS. But as a THS newbie, even though I had some external references, I obviously had zero THS reviews.
For the first THS sit I applied for, the homeowner asked if she could contact a few previous homeowners from sits I had done. That plus a video chat, and then we both clicked on the “accept” button.
It turned out well. She told me I was the best sitter she’d ever had. I had a lovely time with a cuddly cat and some silly chickens, and I got my first excellent, official THS review.
Hello @jeffy and a warm welcome to TrustedHousesitters and the forum. I can see you’ve had some great advice from @Foldor13 and @luckycat and it is very true that all of us had to start somewhere and in that respect each and every one of us sitters here on the platform have been given that first chance
We do encourage all new members to post external references and I can see your applicant has been very active in her community, so I would ask if she has anyone you can contact to give you the reassurance you need. It might be that she has house sat elsewhere and can put you in touch with prior homeowners.
If it were me, back when we started out I would be organising a video chat (or phone chat at the least) talking honestly and openly about my worries as a new member… she’ll likely have the same, and seeing what transpires. Your gut feeling will help
The accept or decline button is for when you decide one way or the other, and after your chat. You can message each other without touching that button for the moment.
Do let us know how you get on and if there are any other questions we can help you with over the weekend… just ask the community
@jeffy Hello and welcome. You’ve already received some good advice. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I’ll always be grateful to the Home Owner who gave us our first sit.
Please don’t read too much into the Premium Membership badge (or lack of). A Premium Membership does not indicate a better quality sitter, not is it a guarantee of the sitters good character. It just means that they chose to pay more for their membership. There are lots of excellent, dedicated sitters at all membership levels, including many experienced sitters who have retained their original membership from before the different tiers were introduced.
Criminal reference checks are not freely available in many countries, and I think THS only provide this for US Premium members. It is not available to me in the UK should I wish to upgrade. A criminal record check is simply a shapshot at the time the check was done. If they are not regularly updated, they are worthless.
Many sitters will have criminal records checks as part of their jobs or volunteering roles. I have 2, but no badge on THS to prove this!
If your applicant sounds good, I would follow make contact with them and then go with your gut feeling once you’ve spoken to them.
In addition to the great advice you’ve already had, one suggestion is to improve your chances by allowing those on the forum to be able to find your listing. I’ll add a link to the instructions here. You also haven’t made any reference to your location. Please keep in mind that this is a world-wide forum, and we have no idea where you’re located.
As for no reviews, I think that if someone has gone to the effort of getting references, it speaks well for them. I’m not impressed by those who don’t make that effort at the start.
Another thing I would like to add is that HOs should send a short acknowledgment to each applicant, I feel, within the first 24 hours thanking them for their application/note and letting the prospective sitter know how soon they plan to make a decision. It’s the courteous thing to do. When I do not hear anything from a HO within 24 hours, 48 at the most, of sending my application, especially if it has been read, I tend to write them off by applying for other sits and giving the alternate sit preference or even withdrawing my application.
I only have the one applicant - probably because its over Christmas.
We had a video chat and it was fine - I have called her landlord for a reference and will email her employer tomorrow.
Thank you all for weighing in - I really appreciate it!
Perhaps I would not have minded when I was 21-23 and just starting out in my career, or during grad school when I was working in restaurants. Even then, I think my employer and supervisor might have been…bemused.
In a professional role, that would not be looked on favorably.
Just to clarify, the premium membership doesn’t include a criminal record check. Checks were available a few years ago but have since been dropped, except for US based sitters - standard or premium. Also, anyone else who already had one done got “grandfathered” in.
I have nothing new to add (sorry) but just wanted to acknowledge how great this forum is. I learn so much as a sitter under every topic. Thank you all who post questions/concerns and all of you that respond. It’s brilliant.