Stand out elements in sitter applications?

I’ve gotten a couple of rejections recently despite a good review history and other qualities I would think appeal to an owner and would welcome input from owners on the forum here as to what qualities and content really stand out to them in the applications they receive. Conversely, what turns you off an application? Thanks for any insights you’re able to provide.


To me, for the final decision, it’s nothing I could put a finger on, it’s my gut talking.
For example in December we‘ll be away for 10 days and 4 sitters have applied. Even though we haven’t had any video chats yet I strongly tend to an American couple, even if they are not the most qualified. There is one who only sits cats (we have 2) and has a lot of experience with maladies, which would be perfect for our tom, but I can’t explain why I want this couple. The cat sitter has 52 five star reviews and the couple „only“ six but I am quite sure it’s going to be them…unless they say something that really puts me off during the video call.
I don’t even consider the other two.
All of them wrote really nice and personal applications, none of them said anything I didn’t like so it all comes down to intuition.


Hi Margie
I am not an owner but a fellow sitter and I wanted to share some thoughts on this because I think a lot of sitters wrongly assume there must be something ‘wrong’ with them if they don’t get picked but I think in most cases, it is more about only being able to pick one person, and it is anybody’s guess what draws the HO to the sitter they end up picking. They really aren’t ‘rejecting’ the other people.

My husband and I don’t get all the sits we apply for, like most of us here, (thought most and I think a relaxed attitude about it helps energetically) and we have over 20 references, really detailed profile and a nice, personalized application. I can’t imagine anyone looking at any of that and thinking there was something ‘wrong’ with us. But for whatever reason, we weren’t the ones. And if they happened to think anything was, that is all subjective, and can’t help that.

Maybe the person a HO picked had a really good reason to be in the area–a big event, family in the area,etc… Maybe she felt some sort of connection with the applicant–a similar job or hobby. Maybe the person looked like the HO’s favorite cousin and there was some sort of subconscious ‘draw.’ I once had a person pick us because she thought I had kind eyes–she was a hippie all about those vibes.

We recently interviewed for a sit where we didn’t get picked–that has only happened one other time actually. The owner seemed to like us a lot and made it sound like she was still going to proceed with the other interview to be fair to the other applicant which was fine with us. So when I got the rejection notification, I was surprised. She sent a message along with it saying that this woman was looking to be in the area frequently over the next several months, and because she travels a lot, it was great to potentially have a go to person for repeat sits. So of course the other applicant was the natural choice.

Now because we actually interviewed (and weren’t just an application she reviewed), she probably felt compelled to give her reasoning. But we could have received a less detailed explanation or none at all, and my mind would automatically jump to wondering what was ‘wrong’ with us. But it was not about us lacking, or being unappealing, in some way . It was about the other person being a better fit in ways that have nothing to do with them being ‘better’ than us.

While I am sure many sitters here may have some room for improvement with their applications, interviews, profiles,etc…in most cases, it probably has nothing to do with that, especially if you have lots of reviews.


Thanks for your detailed thoughts on this, very helpful.

Great to know, thanks for taking the time to reply.

Thank you @KC1102 for an excellent and very detailed response to @margiel question …

I have many reviews and am not successful every time either and while it can cause disappointment we should never take it personally.


Hi. I can truly relate to the replies you’ve already had from @anon39388349 and @KC1102. I have also not been chosen at times because someone else lived close by and was able to visit the homeowners and pet to be interviewed. That is definitely a plus for a homeowner.

I once asked why I was chosen and was told that she knew that anyone who would cuddle a goat had to be kind. I had been thinking of removing that photo as I thought it might be seen as silly. After that … well, years later and it’s still in my profile. :wink:


I guess it depends on many factors. I must say that the most important criteria when we posted our first dates earlier this year was that the sitters be from Canada because of the constantly changing measures due to the pandemic. We had applicants from Canada, Poland, France and South-Africa. They all had nice profiles and we would have chatted with each in other circumstances but we decided to go local for this time.

Another criteria was that we live in a ground-floor apartment and the upstairs neighbour is the landlord’s daughter so we wanted sitters who we could trust not to be party people. :smiley: Again most of the applicants would probably have been ok for that aspect.

We also didn’t want the process to be too long before choosing for the sake of the applicants so we chose amongst those that applied in the first 24 hours which again were all very interesting each in their own way.

We then had a video meeting with our applicants from Canada and really liked the chat; we felt at ease right from the start. So we decided right there and then to choose them. We’ve exchanged other messages since then and we’re very glad with our choice.


I think different home hosts have different reasons that they choose a particular sitter - and I think the word ‘choose’ is important here as they are choosing one not rejecting the others. For this reason, we never feel upset or rejected when not chosen.

The secret, I feel is to make your application as detailed as possible. You have just one chance to sell yourself and to stand out from the rest. As you don’t really know what the home host is looking for be sure to include as much varied information as possible to try and connect with the home host and what they are looking for.

It will be impossible to get it right every time as all home hosts have a different criteria - Our application is long, probably too long for some home hosts yet a sit we applied for responded with -
“We’ve read through your incredibly detailed application and are very impressed. In fact, we’re so impressed that we’d love to ask you to sit for us.”

Talk about yourself, your interests other than animals, your love of animals, their pets , anything specific in their listing that you can connect to? Always refer to them, and their pets by name - sometimes reading other sitters feedback can give you the information you can use to make the connection

I mention in our application that I am vegetarian, this may be of no interest to many yet when the home host of the sit we are currently on responded she said -
“Thank you for your application. I am about to speak with another prospective sitter - I have to say your being vegetarian is an added bonus ! I am a lifelong veggie as is all my family”.

At the end of the day, it is the luck of the draw, you win some and you lose some. It is always disappointing when you don’t get chosen for a sit you really wanted but there will always be another one around the corner with your name on it. :grinning:


Don’t take it too personally. Sometimes they have already spoken with someone they are wanting to invite, but may be tied up doing something else and haven’t had a chance to click that button yet. Also, between your app and others, they may have heard from a repeat sitter who wants to come back again. I know, if we were happy with a previous sitter, we will always accept them first. No need to interview, read references, etc., and we feel comfortable enough to have them arrive even if we are already departed.


Hi, I can’t say what attracts me to an applicant, but I can tell you what would put me off would be if an applicant had clearly not read my listing fully……


A lot of good advice here. Recently after getting rejected from a sit which received a high amount of interest we asked the HO’s if there was anything in particular we could improve on for future applications. We said they were under no obligation to reply but we asked just in case. The HO mentioned the sitter they chose had specific gardening experience so was well suited to the house/surrounding they lived in. I was really pleased they responded to let us know this, it’s always worth an ask!


Hi Margiel, a good question that I think many of us have wondered about! The one piece of advice that I would offer is that when you apply for a sit you always refer to the animal/s in some way. I recall someone that we sat for saying that if a sitter didn’t mention the animals then they went straight to the reject pile. Obviously the animals are hugely important to the owner and your interest in them is essential, otherwise you can come across as only being interested in getting a free holiday. A comment about their appearance, asking questions about their health/routine etc all helps to show that that’s the reason that you’re applying for the sit. The type of questions you ask will also reassure the owners that you have relevant experience. I hope that helps.


I always try to mention the pet by name. But one thing about the TH site: you either have to take notes before hitting “Apply” or you have to go back to the listing and start over. There should be a way to have the listing showing while applying.

Also, I might send only a brief message if the HO has a ton of applications in. I figure they just haven’t bothered either reviewing them or making the selection in the system.


I often have the listing open on another tab of my browser so I can go back to it.

I also often type out my application in another program first so I can proofread it carefully and then cut and paste it before submitting it. I’m always afraid of hitting send by accident before I’m done. :slight_smile:


@Katie - you can click the ‘view listing’ tag at any time whilst you are applying - I go back and forth all the time checking names, etc are correct before I press ‘send’


I totally agree with your comment. One of the worst is when you clearly state in your profile that a sitter cannot bring along their own pet due to the way your pet reacts to outside furbabies, and they turn right around and state they would be bringing their pet, but would leave it in a kennel in their room. First of all, no pets means no pets…and second, if you are leaving your pet in a kennel all day/night, what kind of sitter would you be with someone elses pet???


Never ever would I choose someone who offers to leave their own pet in a kennel all the time! And that’s quite apart from not reading the listing.


There have been a lot of good answers already, but here are a few that as both a HO (and PS/HS) I particularly notice…

  1. when the sitter’s pictures in their profile show them in fabulous places all over the world, but no (or few) pictures of them actually engaging with animals. Shows me they are applying just to travel.
  2. I really like it when in the cover letter they talk about volunteering they’ve done with pets at rescue facilities, animal sanctuaries, animal therapy facilities, etc. We once chose a young couple because they said they liked volunteering in communities they pet sat in, and they showed a picture of him (long hair, many tatoos…not my usual comfort zone with a sitter!) playing his guitar at a retirement home to an obviously happy crowd of residents!(BTW, they turned out to be one of our favorite sitters :wink:
  3. Sometimes we choose an inexperienced sitter over much more qualified ones because they sound good…and we remember how hard it was for us to get our first acceptance to sit!
  4. Often we choose a sitter because they are non-USA citizens and we love being able to make new friends from all over the world. We can pick their brains about their country, customs, viewpoints on world situations and politics. Often we decide to then visit their country!
  5. As others have said too, it is often just a gut feeling that draws you to one over another. It is always so hard to say “NO” to someone, so I try to always write a short explanation letter. I also try never to leave my posting up after getting a response I like…because then I have to say that dreaded “No” to someone :frowning:
  6. FINALLY, if someone is qualified and has applied more than once, I almost always choose them. So, don’t give up if you get one refusal…try again!

I’m curious what you mean by #6 - is it possible to apply more than once? And if it is, wouldn’t multiple applications annoy the HO?