Does working on a yacht for a long period of time really make you better than another candidate?
Well, I believe it does but only to a certain extent. The industry is changing, growing and evolving quickly and I’m finding myself thinking “back in my day!” way too often. I’m not that old, am I?
I didn’t work on many vessels over my 15 years at sea and that included almost 8 years on one vessel alone, starting out as Bosun and eventually getting to Relief Captain. Over that time my skills as a seafarer grew dramatically and as my family will probably say, I developed greatly as a person as well. This yacht travelled all around the world so the skills learnt by going to new locations were invaluable. By the end of my time on board, I knew every inch of that vessel and everything around my role was second nature.
When I put my CV out to the ‘market’ again at the end of that time I was flooded with job offers. I should have been excited and honoured but instead was filled with anxiety. I knew how to run this yacht but would I be able to run another yacht?
In another example from the other side of the recruitment desk was a recent Chief Officer job we were recruiting for. We found what we thought was the perfect candidate. He had worked on his previous yacht for over 6 years. The yacht was the same size and a similar programme. He was excited about the role and ticked all of the boxes requested by the client. However when we introduced him, the client thought he might be “too set in his ways” so turned down his application. They wanted longevity… just not too much apparently.
So is longevity a double-edged sword?
Longevity is requested by clients often for many obvious reasons:
- It shows that candidates can commit long term to a yacht programme.
- It means the captain has more stability on board reducing the need to frequently search for replacements and fostering a more cohesive and efficient team.
- Training new crew takes a lot time and energy. Captains want to invest in this time wisely and not to have to be repeating it.
- Owners and guests enjoy seeing the same faces on board each time building more enjoyable, familiar and streamlined trips.
- In a completely selfish aspect of the captain, if he/she has an experienced long serving team they feel more comfortable delegating jobs and taking more leave when possible. As we all know, a happy captain = a happy crew.
- Above all it shows the candidate has good experience especially if it was on a similar vessel.
Working on a yacht long term exposes you to more locations, more challenges, more guest trips, more yard periods and simply more scenarios to help you build your expertise. Like life, any yacht job, no matter how good it is, will throw some bad times at you, so if you can stick it out it will only build your character and skills.
In my personal example above it was on the same yacht but in different roles, so should we be focusing on longevity in one role? Or is the whole point of longevity simply to prove commitment to an employer?
So why is longevity on a CV quite rare these days? There are a huge number of possible reasons:
- There are too many jobs, so too many options.
- Crew want everything to be perfect so when it isn’t they quit.
- The older generation not getting on with the new generation.
- People getting into yachting for the wrong reasons.
- More people seeing yachting as a seasonal or overseas travel job.
- Crew thinking the grass is greener.
- No room to move up the ranks.
- The itinerary isn’t exciting enough.
- Poor leadership onboard.
- Or are more yachties getting fired these days?
There are so many more reasons and they all deserve their own blogs (watch this space). But in a recent survey conducted by my Co-Director, Don, the results were quite interesting.
There was a clear distinction between what Captains/HODs thought was good longevity compared to other crew surveyed.
The vast majority of Captains/HODs thought 2-3 years+ is good longevity where as the vast majority of other Crew thought 1-2 years is good longevity.
6-12 months – 15%
1-2 years – 27%
2-3 years – 58%
6-12 months – 34%
1-2 years – 52%
2-3 years – 14%
Don’t worry, we take surveys with a grain of salt. This isn’t a clear picture of the entire industry but it’s still interesting and begs the question:
Will these junior crew think differently when they are Captains or HODs, or is the industry changing and we as employers and recruiters need to adapt?