Looking for a new job is both an exciting and a frustrating experience. The prospect of finding “the perfect gig” puts pressure on captains and crew, which can cause them to make some mistakes. Beware of these job-hunting pitfalls.
If a job seems too good to be true, it probably is. One forum on Dockwalk.com is dedicated to the various scams that circulate crew inboxes. Most crew are aware of these scams, however some do not heed the warning when the temptation of making big money is too great – like one such scam that offers crew 100 pounds an hour and the option to choose any position on board from a laundry list of crew jobs.
Being vigilant of which companies are trustworthy is a must. And if recruiters are asking for your bank details to facilitate immigration paperwork, sorry, but it’s a scam.
Since it’s standard protocol in the yachting industry to include photos on CVs, an interview can sometimes be a ruse for a date.
Capt. Mike French of International Yacht Training has heard of several instances in which young women were contacted under the false pretense of a job. “One captain was picking up resumes at various crew placement and training facilities and asking women to meet him at a bar. I spoke with four women who met with this particular guy and all referred to him as ‘creepy.’ The captain told the women he was conducting a pre-interview for a friend, who was the captain of a large Feadship with a job opening.”
French spoke with three other women contacted by a captain who sent a taxi to the women’s crew house to pick them up. The women were then taken to the captain’s home and were then told there was no position available, but he was just “checking out the market.”
French said, “If you are going to meet with a captain [or go on an interview], make sure that someone knows where you are going and make sure you know the name of the boat. Also, be sure to ask if there is a position available before you go on the interview.” French also says crew should find out where the interviewer received their CV; that way they know someone is accountable for handing it out. French advises crew to avoid restaurants and bars for interviews, as the venue should be professional, not social.
For those who dock walk, French pointed out that crew should put their CVs in envelopes. “I know about ten to fifteen women who would hand their resumes out on the docks and within days they would have texts from guys in the crew asking them out on dates,” said French. Only the captain or person hiring should get your CV; your personal information shouldn’t be readily available for all to see.
The lackluster economy has everyone scrimping and saving. Some captains and owners think this means they can get free work out of newbies in exchange for “experience.” However, when you work for experience or lunch, you’re sending the message that your time isn’t valuable. You may be new to the industry, but your hard work should pay off and not just for a sandwich or “three days of daywork on M/Y X” on your resume.
Even if you’re temporary crew, it’s a good idea to have a contract to avoid getting shafted on your pay. In the forum, Pay Recovery on Dockwalk.com, Cindy Smith mentions a friend who worked for three months on board a boat and did not realize s/he was not being paid. Lawyer Benjamin Maltby of Matrix Lloyd responded, “Anything other than daywork, paid in cash at the end of that day, should be on the basis of a written employment contract.”
Contracts and Clauses
The key to contracts is reading the fine print. One Dockwalk.com member learned this the hard way. This crewmember was terminated after only five months of work. The yacht’s management company contacted him/her to ensure his/her severance package “included remuneration for the days worked in that month, one month salary in lieu of the notice period (30 days) and pay in lieu of accrued leave. The termination was immediate, thus the 30 days’ pay in lieu of 30 days’ notice.”
However, the severance package never materialized and his/her contract also contained this clause: “The crew member irrevocably and unconditionally waives all rights to assert, enforce, execute or secure any claim, order or judgment against the employer by means of any action, arrest, attachment, detention, lien, seizure or other proceeding against the yacht. There are no collective agreements applicable to the crew member's employment by the employer.”
The clause basically negated all of the crewmember's rights to secure his money. Maltby commented, “Frankly, yes, you were naïve to sign such a contract. When crewmembers don’t negotiate their contracts they are flagging themselves up as pushovers from day one, and this may set the tone for an unhappy period of employment thereafter.”
It’s imperative that you read and understand the contract and perhaps even enlist the services of a lawyer or barrister.
Common sense and intuition are essential when it comes finding new work. If you have a bad vibe or something tells you that this can’t possibly be right, then it probably isn’t. Do your homework and hopefully you won’t become an example of what not to do.