So Hard to Say Goodbye

2 August 2008 By Jennifer Seitz

It can seem like a revolving door in this yachting industry. Some crew make a career of hopping from one boat to the next; others end their careers by doing it.

So, what’s the difference? It’s all in how you say goodbye.

Truly professional captains and crew -- the ones who grow in a career rather than make lateral jumps from one ship to another -- are aware of three simple secrets to leaving with grace while keeping your good reputation intact.

1. Give ample notice to your former employer.
This may seem obvious, almost cliched, but it accomplishes a lot. Not only will it give you a clear conscience, but it may also help secure a valuable reference from a former employer who can give your yachting career a boost.

Owners realize that all crew eventually must leave. But for all parties involved, it's best to leave on friendly terms and with a genuine feeling of appreciation for a job well done.

By giving sufficient notice, you allow your employer to find a suitable replacement while not putting any unnecessary burden on other crew, which may spill over into a negative impression on guests.

Your relationships with fellow crew are also at stake. You may work with these people again on another yacht, and they are less likely to view you in positive terms if you were the jerk who left without notice and made life unbearably difficult for the remaining crew until your replacement was found.

Captains and crew often provide the best character references as you move forward in your career. Don't take the chance of having any isolated incident tarnish your reputation for professionalism and common courtesy.

Kristen DiMartino, director of crew placement at World of Yachting advises, “If at all possible leave on good terms and avoid leaving your employer high and dry. If you can’t count on your former employer for a good reference, it is best to leave that job off of your resume.”

2. Take the high road.
It may not always be easy, but in the final analysis it makes you a better person and a more valuable professional if you don't gripe about a former employer.

“It is important to maintain professionalism and integrity no matter how unprofessional the owner, captain or other crew might be," says Stacy Geddis, owner and co-founder of Crew4Crew. “As easy as it is to say this when you're not the one in an uncomfortable situation, ultimately how you choose to respond is a direct reflection upon your integrity as an employee. A person who is able to keep their cool and remain professional under stressful and unreasonable conditions makes a much greater statement than an act of retaliation.”

It’s also important, says Angela Wilson, senior crew agent at Elite Crew International, to remain focused even after the resignation has been submitted.

“Whether you’ve been with a boat a few months or several years you still need to give 100 percent right up until the end,” she says.

3. Look before you leap.
Put your feelers out first and know your options before jumping ship. For financial reasons, it makes sense to line up another position, if possible, before leaving your current one.

Another consideration is negotiating power. Your departure may prompt counter-offers or better terms from your current employer in an attempt to persuade you to stay. This, however, is never guaranteed and you’re resignation should never be a bluff. Many people have outsmarted themselves with foolishly attempting this maneuver.

When your decision is made to leave your boat, the best way to do it is professionally, in person and with the accompaniment of a resignation letter that outlines the important details of your departure.

Changing jobs can be agonizing, complicated and exciting all at the same time. If you decide it’s your time to go, handling the transition in a mature and professional way can make the process easier for all concerned and be better for your long-term career.

Do you have a job change story to share? Have you ever been rewarded for following these three principles when leaving one yacht job for another? Let us know, comment below.