6 Tips for a Killer Résumé

16 January 2009 By Rubi McGrory

If you are new to the world of yachting, you might be surprised by how different the job application process is here. In the corporate world, you may submit a résumé and weeks will go by without a phone call. Then, you may have to go through a series of interviews before finding out if you have been hired – often after another long wait.

Things move a bit quicker in the yachting industry. Rare is the boat that hires crew far in advance. Almost everyone in the business has had at least one experience that involved a quick phone interview followed by an immediate flight to meet the boat. Those situations are the exceptions rather than the norm, but very exciting, nonetheless.

Part of being so hire-able is having a great CV (Curriculum Vitae) or résumé. If you’re looking for a job, take a good look at your main marketing tool and see if it needs some tweaking. Here are six tips to help you get started:

1. Your photo is the first thing potential employers will encounter on your CV. If that image is not one of you neat and tidy, dressed in a collared shirt or similar appropriate attire and looking professional, it is the wrong picture. Your next captain does not want to see you at a party with a beer in each fist, nor should you be flexing in a muscle shirt. I can’t believe I have to say this, but no bikinis on the beach, either—women or men.

2. Quit smoking. Now. Among the first, most pertinent information you should list on your résumé is your age, nationality, visas, height & weight, and whether or not you smoke. There’s no point in stretching the truth; if you do, you either will get busted smelling like smoke or get stuck having to quit.

3. Keep it short. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, your résumé shouldn’t be longer than a page. Okay, maybe very experienced crew can stretch it to two pages, but you’d better have some pretty good stuff on there. The person hiring will be able to spot filler, and frankly, it’s a time-waster. Keep the information relevant—the chief stew doesn’t need to know about the filing you did at your temp job, but would love to see that you have extensive experience in the service industry. If your only experience on a boat was as a guest and you feel that gives you a unique insight into the demands of the job, by all means, elaborate on that—and make it easy for the person hiring to pass you over.

4. You may be a witty, charming and intelligent conversationalist in real life, but most captains won’t have the opportunity to see and fall in love with you at first sight. You must first sell yourself on paper. Choose an easy-to-read font, make your grammar precise, then double- and triple-check it for typos and spelling errors. Don’t rely totally on spell-check as it has blind spots, like not knowing the difference between “sea” and “see”. Find someone who knows the ropes and ask them for constructive criticism. Don’t pout when they suggest you remove a half-page entry about your copy-shop job in high school.

5. Don’t lie on your résumé. Captains have heard and seen it all and will catch you.

6. Upload a digital copy onto the Internet. It doesn’t have to be public, but just storing it on your hard drive isn’t enough. When you have a sure-fire CV sorted out, e-mail it to yourself at an address you can always access online. That way, you can be in a position to e-mail to anyone at any time, no matter where you are. Take a backup along on a CD or USB drive as well. Make sure your file is something universally recognized-like Microsoft Word 2003 (don’t assume everyone has Word 2007).

Good Luck.

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