The season is over and for many, job hunting is well underway. We asked crew recruitment experts Quay Crew for their top tips for those who want to find their first deckhand job. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Work Hard & get some experience
This may seem counter-intuitive to many, after all, you are looking for a job, but there are lots of things you can do to gain relevant experience that will complement your job search in the yachting industry: Volunteer at a local marine business, contact a local marina and offer to clean some boats or drive some tenders, or see if a local tourism business, hotel, or conference centre has an opportunity for some part-time work.
2. Network and dockwalk
When you arrive in Antibes, or Palma, ready with your CV in hand to go dockwalking, make sure you have a plan of action ahead of time. Find out where most of the yachts are berthed and be sure that you approach the vessels at an appropriate time of day (especially lunchtime). Be professional and respectful of the time pressures and schedules of those working on board. Identify local organizations where you can network and don’t forget to investigate nearby, lesser-known ports and yards where you can network as well.
3. Stay positive and diligent
Don’t expect to get a call offering you a job after your first day walking the docks. A job search can be a challenge particularly when you are far from home without your support structure around you to help you. Be diligent and determined and remember to stay positive. Be prepared for lots of rejection and don’t expect to get a job in the first week (or even the first month).
4. Get your CV ready
Generally, unless you have something amazing listed on your CV which makes you stand
out, a job search in yachting won’t come easy. Basics are key for preparing a CV for consideration. The layout or style isn’t necessarily important (albeit it should present well) but make sure it is well written. (Grammatical and spelling mistakes will do you no favours!). Check it, and then check it again. If you don’t take the extra time to have your CV correctly written, then your CV will go straight into the ‘don’t consider’ pile.
5. Please don’t say you want to be a captain
If this is your first job in yachting, please don’t put in the objective: “I want to be a Captain!”. Be realistic, honest, and humble. That will get you much further than trying to over impress.
6. Practice, don’t wing it
Take the time to practice answering interview questions you will probably be asked during a job interview. This will help give you the opportunity to prepare and practice answers, and it will also help calm your nerves because you won’t be scrambling for an answer while you’re in the interview hot seat.
7. Get your tickets and certifications in order
You should look into getting the basic certifications together before starting a job search. That means the STCW, PB L2, and ENG 1. Having your PWC ticket would be useful as well. However, avoid spending thousands on a week-long class which covers painting, varnishing, PBL2, line handling, and GRP Repair. These courses are superfluous; in the past 5 years, we have never had a request for an entry-level deckhand with these certificates. Get the basic tickets, and then save the rest of your money and invest it in travelling down to France or Spain to look for work.
8. Be a Dayworker
Daywork is a great way to get some experience onboard and pick up a few of the basics of how to be a deckhand. And the bonus is that after a few days of work, you will have a great reference to take away with you for your job search. Work as hard and you can, and treat every day like it is a day-long job interview. It can also help keep you afloat cash wise while you are looking for permanent work.
9. Be careful with your cash
It can be tempting to spend all your hard-earned money on a Thursday night at the Blue Lady Quiz in Antibes but resist it. Remember you are making an investment in your future, and the money you have could be paying for your rent and food whilst you are trying to secure that elusive job on board.
Be prepared for a lot of hard work but enjoy the process as well! It will take time, effort, and money to get a decent job. Competition is fierce, but with the right mindset, you can make it happen! Good luck!