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5 Things To Look For When Hiring Pet Sitters

For a lot of pet sitting companies, hiring can be stressful, but it’s easier when you know what type of applicant you are looking for. 

Many different personality types, and people from very diverse backgrounds, can all make great pet sitters. So, it is important not to have too many preconceived notions when going into the hiring process.

Still, there are a few common things to look for when hiring a pet sitter. In this article, we will cover five of these things.

Also, be sure to check out our other hiring articles: 

 

Cute Cat

They Can Follow Detailed Directions

Most of a pet sitter’s work involves following every step of a client’s pet care instructions. So, I only select candidates who carefully follow instructions during our hiring process. 

For example, in an initial email to potential candidates, we instruct them to read through a “Careers Page” on our website. This page describes each step of our hiring process so candidates know what to expect. It’s easy to tell when someone hasn’t read these instructions, because they tend to ask questions already covered on the Careers Page. We tend to screen these people out. 

Click here if you want to see our Careers Page for yourself.

Cat Pet Sitter Training

They Have a Track Record of Reliability

If I have a new candidate who tries to reschedule their interview or flakes on me during the hiring process, I usually screen them out. Further, if someone is a headache to work with during the hiring process, I pass on that candidate. 

I admit, it is difficult to know if someone will be a reliable pet sitter based only on the hiring process and interview questions. Sometimes it will take a few weeks to see a candidate’s true colors. 

During the interview, I ask the candidate to describe a time when someone was relying on them, and how that situation turned out. Good candidates will be able to tell a story where someone was counting on them for something that really mattered—and they pulled through.

They are good with both People and Pets

While a lot of people get into pet care because they don’t want to deal with people, it’s the owners who are paying the bill. 

So, I always look for candidates that are great with both people and pets.

They Are a Good Problem Solver

Problems will come up at visits, and you need staff who can make good judgment calls when working independently in the field. If the candidate struggles to tell you about a time they solved a problem, they will tend to struggle with the job. 

During our initial phone interview with prospective pet sitters or dog walkers, I always ask the candidate to tell me:

  • About a time when they had to solve a difficult problem
  • How they went about solving the problem
  • and what the outcome was

Again, look for candidates who can speak to real and difficult situations they were able to solve, and watch out for fluffy answers. As with all stages of the interview, get curious and ask follow up questions in a conversational manner. Don’t just let the candidate tell the story and move on to the next question. Dig deep, and be sure you are getting a full picture.  

Look for Gig Workers, Creative Individuals, Artists, Writers, and Those on a Second Career

While many people from many diverse backgrounds can make great pet sitters, my sitters tend to have one other side hustle, and have previous experience working a full time job. 

My team is almost entirely comprised of writers, audio editors, and visual artists. Pet sitting and dog walking offers a fun way for creative individuals to make extra cash and get away from their projects for a little while. 

Pet sitting also tends to have slow weeks and busy weeks. During the slow weeks, my sitters enjoy getting back to their creative work. During the busy weeks, my sitters are OK with leaving their creative work until after they made a good paycheck working for me.

Finding individuals who have previously worked a full time job for a number of years has proven to be a leading indicator of a good hire. Pet sitting takes a lot of responsibility. If a candidate has not yet had full time experience at some kind of job, they often have not developed that responsibility factor so crucial to being a reliable pet sitter. I have found it’s not really possible to train candidates with a low sense of responsibility to be good sitters. 

They Can Work With Your Schedule

When I first started hiring pet sitters, I advertised that I offered a flexible schedule, and I told new hires we could work around their other work schedules. What a mistake that was! 

Later on, we developed a scheduling system for pet sitters that spells out specific days and times a pet sitter will need to work. 

Having a set schedule got everyone on the same page and we had much better hires when new candidates understood the hours they were expected to work before they accepted the job. 

Our “Agency Style” pet sitting schedule also allowed every sitter to get two days off per week. Offering time off each week led to us being able to hire more talented individuals, who understood there should be boundaries at work.

Click here to learn more about the Agency Style pet sitting schedule we developed. If you are currently requiring your sitters to work seven days per week, I highly recommend you try it out.

How Do You Know Someone Will Do A Good Job?

The truth is, you don’t. At least not until you start working with the candidate. Most of the time, you will be able to tell in the first few weeks if someone is worth keeping on board. Even with your best efforts and stringent hiring processes, some people will not make it past the first few days. And that’s OK.

You will make a few bad hires, especially when first starting out. Just remember, you don’t need to let those new hires work on their own right away. Have new sitters shadow yourself or other sitters for the first couple of weeks, and if a new hire can’t do well under supervision, it is up to you to recognize you made a hiring mistake and let that person go.

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