So you’ve decided you want to enter the industry of extreme highs and lows. But just how exactly do you get your foot in the door? A number of Dockwalk.com members have to taken to the Dockwalk.com forums in pursuit of the answer to just that question. Green crew, fear not — your yachtie dreams will happen. We’ve laid out the basics to help you get started, with advice from crew agencies and training schools themselves.
First things first, you need to have a professionally written CV. As Stacy Geddis of Crew4Yachts points out, this is the first impression for an employer. She suggests approaching it as the first interview — it can either open up doors for you to move to the next stage of the interview process or end up in the trashcan.
Therefore, the CV’s presentation counts just as much as a person’s employment history and training, says Geddis. A professional looking CV shows that the crewmember is committed to a career in yachting and has set a high standard for themselves.
The key to creating a professional presentation? Attention to detail.
“Why should a yacht give a green crewmember a chance if their CV is full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, or the candidate simply hasn’t made an effort with the content?” says Lauren Stiles, an industry guidance advisor at UKSA.
Another aspect of a professional yachting CV includes a proper headshot of the candidate. Geddis offers the following tips to nailing that photo:
· DO wear a collared shirt (ex. a polo shirt)
· DO smile (show that you’re enjoyable to work with)
· DO use a suitable backdrop (ex. a solid background or landscape scene)
· DO tie long hair back (as if at work)
· DO use a current photo
· DON’T crop your head from a personal photo
· DON’T wear sunglasses or a hat
· DON’T take a selfie
Now that you’ve got your CV presentation down, how do you go about filling out a CV when you’ve yet to gain yachting experience?
This is where your transferable skills come in. Have a bartending background? Were you previously a dive instructor? Use these roles to your advantage by highlighting them on your CV. Stiles reveals that UKSA, whose Industry Guidance Department helps students showcase relevant skills on their résumé, finds that positions requiring extra skills such as diving, beauty therapy, and personal training are continuing to increase in a competitive industry.
“Any relevant experience is always a must,” says Louisa Gallimore, crew manager at bluewater. “For example, for aspiring stewardesses looking to get into the industry, emphasizing experience in hospitality is very important. Likewise, for deck crew, any recreational sailing experience or perhaps a watersports background, is looked on very favorably.”
Foreign languages, carpentry, and mechanical skills are also transferable, according to Geddis.
As Rhian Jones, training coordinator at bluewater, points out, it’s difficult to find a job without first completing the STCW Basic Safety Training and obtaining an ENG1 medical certificate. While these are the basic fundamentals necessary to get started, investing in other courses specific to your department will help your CV stand out.
“Over the last few years, we have found our employers are looking for higher level qualifications than just the STCW Basic Safety Training,” maintains Stiles. “Approximately eighty percent of the green deckhand roles we advertise now require a Yachtmaster Offshore as a minimum, and this season we have seen a huge increase in the number of entry-level positions requiring Proficiency in Delegated Security Duties (PDSD) rather than just Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA).”
Jones breaks down the following additional qualifications for each department:
· Exterior: Powerboat Level 2
· Engineer: Approved Engine Course (AEC), which “will go a long way to help you obtain your first assistant engineer role”
· Chefs: Food Hygiene (Level 2) certificate (you might also want to consider the Ship’s Cook Assessment)
· Interior: No additional mandatory qualifications, although “the GUEST Entry Program, in association with PYA and Interior Training Academy, provides an excellent grounding for any new stewardess”
Now that you’ve perfected your CV and are up to par on training, it’s time to hit the docks. And when you do, it’s best to go the extra mile.
For example, Geddis suggests getting business cards with your desired position, photo, nationality, visas, training certificates, and local contact info. She also points out that as it’s unlikely anyone new will get hired if they’re not local to the vessel, you should physically relocate to wherever the yachts are based for that season (e.g. Fort Lauderdale in the fall, Antibes in the summer) to visit agencies, dockwalk, and acquire daywork.
Additionally, have relevant references on hand — they will be checked. Otherwise, “If you are straight out of school and have no previous work experience, you may find it very hard to find work on board with or without qualifications,” says Stiles, adding that a detailed reference from a previous employer is much stronger than one from a family friend.
Remember that attention to detail we spoke about for the CV? It doesn’t stop there; it’s also the key to presentation, which is a key in itself when it comes to landing or nailing the interview.
“Don’t forget as crew you are applying for a position [that] requires excellent attention to detail in everything, from safety to polishing, so make sure you are dockwalking in a smart, ironed polo shirt,” says Stiles, adding that first impressions can make a big difference.
“I had a meeting with a crew agent in Antibes this time last year and there was a young girl waiting for an interview in reception,” she adds. “She was well presented, smart hair, and makeup, and was waiting eagerly with her CV and references. I then noticed that she was wearing leather jeggings. This is a big no!”
Stiles also asserts that a positive and enthusiastic attitude is one of the most important things when UKSA forwards a candidate for positions. “This will always win, even over some of the best previous experience. Don’t forget the job you are doing on board initially as a junior crewmember is fairly simple, yachts can teach people how to clean something, but [they] can’t change a bad attitude!”
Hand in hand with your attitude is work ethic. This should be evident in everything you do — whether it’s initial daywork on board or shown clearly on your CV by your previous work experience, says Stiles.
So, always make sure you smile and your dedication and hard work shine through.
So there you have it: have your CV lined up, your training completed, present yourself carefully, and remember: “It’s so important that you are consistent with all these things whether dayworking on board, networking with crew in The Blue Lady, or emailing a crew agent,” concludes Stiles.