How to Find the Right Crew Agent

25 July 2009 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.”