7 Tips for Switching Ships

21 July 2008 By Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp

Whether on land or sea, most bosses make the decision to hire you during the first 10 minutes of your interview. The rest of the discussion is due diligence, justifying their gut instinct.

So, if you’re itching to jump ship from one yacht to another, you’ll want to make a good first impression. Here are some tips on how to do it right:

1. Research the yacht’s history and learn its protocol
Become a “Google-ographer.” Enter the vessel’s name in an Internet search engine and get an education. “You’ll learn the history of the boat, its size and past itinerary,” said Neal Harrell, Jr., president of Brooks Marine Group. You’ll also be in a better position to converse and ask questions if you’ve done your homework.

2. Be ready for trick questions during the interview
Question: “What would you do if the owner’s daughter asked you to take the dog for a walk?”
Answer: “You ask where the poop bags are and walk the dog.”
Crew are valued for their specific credentials and skills, but working on a megayacht will always be a service position. Don’t ever forget that, especially not during the initial job interview.

3. Dress professionally
Wear a pressed pair of khakis or nice shorts, a polo shirt, a belt. No flip flops, grungy sandals or weather-ripened boat shoes. Yachts look for a clean-cut image, so downplay face piercing and tattoos. Remember, this is a job interview, not a rock concert.

4. Update your one-page resume
Strong resumes highlight career accomplishments, not just past positions, rank and job title on board. Don’t just say the job you’re doing already. If you’re a stewardess, it’s a given that you offer beverages to guests. Under each position, say what you were most proud of and highlight the effect your professionalism had on the enjoyment of the guests.

Here's an example: As first mate completing a crew of two, I prepared the owner’s 80-foot yacht for trade. After the survey, I addressed the punch list for a flawless transaction while transferring all equipment, gear and personal items to the new yacht. I assisted with provisioning and outfitting the new yacht, organizing and stowing all gear and compiled a complete inventory while maintaining the exterior of the yacht and tender.

If you’re a first mate who is also the security officer, emphasize it. A first officer responsible for the deck crew should note that added responsibility. Indicate if you were with the yacht since the build. Say how many guests you cooked for or served and include photos of table settings.

Emphasize your versatility. Are you a deckhand who also subs as the yacht’s dive master? Did you work your way up from deckhand to chief stew? If so, blow your own fog horn. This is your time to shine and it doesn't hurt to fluff your own feathers as long as you’re being truthful and can back it up with proof or solid references.

5. Include the job objective on your resume and be matched with the right position
“Real objectives are not generic,” says Ian Pelham, director of The Crew Network placement agency in Fort Lauderdale.

Example: Seeking a stewardess position on a motor yacht with a heavy charter schedule where I can learn from a more experienced stewardess and contribute to the team.

A chief stewardess might write: “Looking for a chief stewardess position on a 200-foot motor yacht, leading a team of three to deliver the high expectations an owner deserves. Private or charter.”

6. Have a Kodak moment: Include your photo on your resume
If a resume lacks a photo, Capt. Mark Howard puts it at the bottom of the pile.

Photos on crew resumes have gotten so common that it is now almost required. Incorporating a digital photo is so simple; not showing your photo raises the question as to why.

“Has this gal got a bone in her nose?” Howard asks. “Does the guy have dreadlocks?”
You may not like the questions asked rhetorically by the captain or hiring agent, but this is a very visual industry, and looks do count. Why rock the boat and cost yourself a solid career position on a superyacht?
There's a good reason why captains, especially, like to see photos with the resumes, and it's not because they want to assemble a team of “yachtie hotties” for their next charter.

While crew agents and human resources experts stress describing accomplishments on your resume, captains are more interested in whether they recognize your face from around the marinas where they spend a lot of time.

“I don’t always remember a name, but I’ll know the face,” Capt. Chuck Limroth says. “You may have seen someone around but not know their name.”

7. Provide details on references and licenses
Include nationality and visa/immigration status, as well as up-to-date references and licenses.

Longevity shows a crewmember had a job and liked it. It also means that the captain liked having that crewmember on board because of the quality of the work performed by that individual.

Howard nixes job applicants with bad references even if he/she had a good resume and interview. So don’t burn your bridges.

“If a reference like a captain or department head says, ‘Someone left me hanging,’ it [the behavior] probably will be repeated,” he says.

Have you made a successful job switch from one yacht to another? If so, how did you do it, and did you ruffle any feathers along the way? Let us know. Leave your comments below and vote in our interactive poll.