Long Live Longevity?

26 July 2011 By Rubi McGrory

Everyone who has worked with Chief Stewardess Christina agrees that she's among the best in the industry. After two terrible years on a yacht on which she and her chef husband were treated poorly and paid little, they made the choice to hop off in hopes of grabbing those dollar signs at the end of the tunnel. Now, they change boats with the seasons. “I’m following the money,” she says, unapologetically. “I have six years in this industry, I want to fill my bank account and go home.”

According to Dockwalk’s longevity poll results, Christina is the exception to the rule. Almost half of the poll respondents report staying at their job between one and two years, while less than one fourth stay under a year. “This makes sense,” says Capt. Dave, who is in the 20-percent bracket of poll respondents who’ve been in industry for more than 15 years. “Sometimes, it takes a few tries to find the right boat. It’s okay; I won’t deduct points from your resume.”

Eighty percent of crew who responded not only believe longevity is important, but also believe it's a big consideration before leaving a job.

With time on board comes seniority and all of those other great things, like stability, higher wages and the ability to organize, plan and save for future endeavors. For many in the industry, there are big incentives in staying for a full year; raises, holiday pay and bonuses are often contingent on annual employment.

More than 90 percent of the crew who do the hiring are looking at your longevity history. Capt. Mike, another industry long-timer, points out that the first things he reads on your resume is how long you have stayed on the last few boats. “I don’t want to hire someone and invest all that time in training them to have them bail and hop on the next bigger, higher paying boat.”  Dave says he checks for the same thing, but he also wants to see you have experience in a variety of situations on different boats. “The stew with four years on one boat will not have as much experience as the stew with two years on one boat and one year on two boats.” They both agree, however, their final decision is based on your personality and how well they think you will fit with the rest of the crew.

Captains Mike and Dave accept there is a synergy responsible for keeping crewmembers. “You generally either have a great crew, a great boss, or a great program, two maybe, but never all three,” Mike says. “Crew come and go; we are a transient industry. If I can keep my core people, mate, engineer, chief stew, chef, everyone’s job is a little easier.”

Capt. Dave agrees, “No matter what the position, from captain to laundress, you need to feel challenged, but not up against a wall. Once you lose room to grow in a job, you become bored and your work suffers.”

“Don’t be that person who stays for the money or the time logged,” cautions Christina. “I have been that person in an awful job I hated. I’ve worked with that person many times. If you hate your boss, your job, your co-workers or [you] aren’t being challenged, if you wake up every morning wishing you were anyplace else, you should go. You aren’t the only person suffering; you are having a negative impact on everything and everyone involved with your job.”