How to Find the Right Crew Agent

Jul 25th 09
By Joanne MacKenzie

Whether you are looking for a new crew position or your very first job in yachting, you will likely use a crew agent. With so many agencies to choose from, how do you find the one that is right for you?

There are a variety of opinions about this. “The more agents you sign up with, the better your chances are of getting a job,” says one first mate, adding that whatever agent calls him first with a job offer is the one who is right for him.

A stewardess feels that “less is more” when it comes to crew agents. “I only deal with two agents. Otherwise, I would just be prostituting myself.” This may sound overly dramatic, but she says she’s gotten jobs through these two agents and it’s too time-consuming to go through the registration and check-in process with any more agencies.

A chef says he deals with about four crew agencies. When he first started looking for a job, he talked to friends for agent recommendations, but he says it’s all relative. “One who is good for me isn’t going to be the right one for someone else. It’s who you connect with on a personal level. If they like you, and you like them, it’s easier for them to remember you and look after you better when a job comes up.”

Another stewardess says she will go back to the agency she used to get her current position, but she won’t use the same agent. “I checked in two to five times a week, but that agent didn’t put me forward for anything. Then my friend with less experience got put forward for a boat looking for two stews. I asked a different agent why I hadn’t been. She told me I needed to check in more. When she realized I had, she said it was too late for that job, but did get me some day work. That held me over till I got this job.” The stew says next time she will ask more questions and be sure to get the right agent from the beginning.

A crew agent gives this advice: “Know what you want and have reasonable expectations.” She says, for example, “If you’re a new stew in the industry, don’t expect to land a chief stew position right away.”

A chef on a 55-metre boats says there’s a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to choosing the right agent. She mainly deals with three agents. “They know what I want and steer me away from bad boats. I’ve been put up for jobs before where the boat and captain were completely different than what I was told. The agents later told me they had heard negative things about the captains. If I had known beforehand, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.”

Another agent in France says it’s the agency’s policy to meet with both captains and crew before making a placement. “It’s hard to know everything about all of them, but we do our homework so we’re comfortable with who we are placing and who we’re placing for.”

What do you look for in a crew agent? Let us know below.

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2 Comments
  • Henning, I have to agree with you. Even I wonder sometimes if the agents actually know what they are doing? What I definitly do NOT like is not getting any response when I apply for a job sent to me in an email from an agency. The only time I am getting a reply is when the position is alredy been filled. But never when it's still an open one. I think it would be good for every crew member to at least know why he or she did not get the job. How am I supposed to know what is wrong with my yachting history or my CV when the agencies don't bother to tell me? A couple of weeks ago I applied for another job knowing I have the qualifications but also knowing I won't get the job anyways. Therefore my email to the agency was very argumentativ. And guess what? I've got an answer from an agent. Well, now I know what is the problem with my yachting history (I basically just did charters.) What means I could explain to the agent why (personal reasons I can't put in my CV). What again means now the agency can forward my CV to a Captain with an reasonable explaination attached. But why can't some of the agencies ask me about my reasons when we first met for an interview? So many questions they have. But something apparently so important for a placement they don't look into it a little deeper?
    Posted by Jacqueline Knorr 11/08/2009 14:07:14

  • Crew agents, interesting topic. In 7 years in the yacht end of this business, I have had exactly one job out of a crew agent, and it was a 9 day delivery gig. At leats it's not like 5 years ago when the agencies all wanted between $25 & $75 just to sign up with them. I used to bother checking in, call, stop in, nothing. My favorite part was when a crew agent tried to qualify me in an interview. Now, just how is an ex stew, or better yet, someone who has absolutely Zero seatime supposed to qualify me? WTF do they know? "What boats have you been on?" "Why have you been on so many different boats?" "Lady, do you even know what it means to be a contract captain and fill 30-90 day job contracts? Do you have any concept of how the rest of the maritime, especially workboat industry operates? Do you understand what those Letters of Authority that give me vessel specific authority with some of them going to 9200 ton OSVs indicate about me? How about 15 years running work boats and tugs in the worst conditions you can imagine, North Sea, Hurricanes... pulling around 730 3 deck barges, anchor handling for rigs, 4 point anchor and DP2 commercial dive boats, mud and pipe boats crewboating them under rigs in a cross swell with a current, continuous close quarters boat handling with 185-340' boats, all without a single injury or accident.... But you don't think I'm good enough to handle a white boat? By what reasoning do you find fault? Did you miss that I started in this industry on private and charter yachts before you knew the industry existed? That I was a BN back when I was 20? What qualifies you to find fault? BTW, What qualifies a crew agent to be a crew agent? IME they're a bunch of ex stews who wanted/needed a shoreside position to have kids. Heck, most of the time you can't even get them to answer their phone or call back. Last winter an agent who will go unnamed had a good position that I would have liked and the owne
    Posted by Henning_1 27/07/2009 09:31:24

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