How you present yourself in the yachting industry is essential, whether you have a job or are looking to make a career move. Several crew agencies share their recommendations on what crew need to keep in mind as they face a new season and a job search.
If you’re currently looking for work, keep your spirits up. “We had a slow season in the fall of 2018 and I feel like the crew were starting to feel deflated,” says bluewater Placement Coordinator Terry Haas. “Stay positive, upbeat, and patient. Keep your profile completely up to date and continue checking with the agents. Be determined.”
“Have a clear goal for your future,” says Diane Leander of The Crew Network’s Fort Lauderdale office. “Apply for the jobs that interest you and work towards accomplishing your goals. Don’t take a job unless you are truly excited about it; this will promote longevity and advancement.” On another tack, when you’re evaluating your career goals, make sure you’re starting off on the right path. “Crew should seriously think twice about registering as a couple when applying for junior positions,” says Sharon Rose, crew manager at bluewater. “Many opportunities have been missed by the time they realize they should [have] applied for a single position to start with.”
Of course, though it’s basic common sense, all crew agents maintain that you need to submit a clean and professional CV — without errors. “Your CV is typically the first introduction we have with you, so it needs to be very professionally done,” Leander says. She advises crew to include location, correct contact details, and to respond quickly when an agent reaches out. If you’re hard to reach, the agent will more than likely move on to someone else. “Be sure to list reasons for leaving a job, correct reference contacts, [and provide] an updated and professional photo. First impressions are very important,” Leander says.
“If you are currently employed and looking for a change — PLEASE understand that the way you treat your current captain, owner, or chief is exactly what your next will be expecting,” says Ian Pelham of Preferred Crew. “If you tell them that you will leave your current gig with no notice…well, they are going to figure you will do the same to them. Your career is not a 'hit it and run' process. Your professionalism builds or falls based on your entire history, and yes, that includes how you leave jobs.”
Getting a job is not just about your CV. There are several things that might turn off potential employers before the interview, so you should evaluate your digital presence to ensure you’re presenting yourself as the best candidate possible. “HODs look at social media pages so be sure to keep them professional,” Leander says.
“If you are green crew — treat every encounter like an interview. Have a good 'elevator pitch' ready – that means thirty seconds to tell a complete stranger what you bring to the table as a new deckhand/steward(ess)/engineer,” says Pelham. “Keep a smile on your face at all times, have a sense of humor, and do not get blasted drunk. You never know who you are standing next to.”
When asked about recent placement concerns, several agents weighed in on some of the issues — from visas to finance — they’ve noticed recently. “Know your visa status,” says Rupert Connor of Luxury Yacht Group. “Don’t rely upon your captain to keep your passport in good status. If you were issued a visa for twenty-eight days to be in the USA, be sure that you don’t overstay. It is your responsibility and there is no sympathy from authorities if you overstay and receive a ten-year re-entry ban.” Haas also offers a note of caution to crew coming into the U.S. “I feel like foreign crew should educate themselves on the B1/B2 visa compliancy and know what steps to take not to be at risk for deportation,” she says. Haas also recommended that crew should “also be in the know that a lot of yachts do drug testing.”
“Keep informed. The rules around the world are changing,” says Pelham. “Every week I learn of something new and I’ll be honest, so much changes that it is not really possible to know everything. Keeping yourself informed, read the trade magazines (of course that includes Dockwalk), [and] talk to other crew about their experiences.”
“Hiring managers are increasingly complaining about the tendency towards lack of crew longevity,” Louise Cailbourdin from The Crew Network’s Antibes location says. “Proven commitment to your contracts is invaluable when making the right impression in your next job search.” Joanne Cooper-Damgaard, a bluewater crew agent, also urges caution when it comes to jumping from job to job. “The grass is not greener; if you have a job and you are making great money, hold on to it,” she says. “Save your money, stop trying to compete with the boss.” Crew can make good money, but it’s easy to fall into the spending trap when your basic needs are taken care of for you and you have access to lots of money.
Along those same financial lines, Cooper-Damgaard also urges crew to be more educated about their pay. “I think last year there were too many incidents of crew not being paid, or not being paid on time,” she says. “Crew need to educate themselves on the importance of being with MLC-compliant agencies and what that means for them.”
One final note that can serve you well throughout your career: “Always be professional in your correspondence and communications,” says Leander. “Be thankful for an interview; even if you ultimately do not accept that job, you never know where that interview could lead you in the future.”