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Crew Compass: by Stew Melissa McMahon
Getting a job in this industry is a lot like gambling in Las Vegas. We never know what will come up, who we will work with, if our search will take a week or several months, and whether it’ll be a big hit (i.e., the perfect boat).
But finding a job can also be surprisingly simple, especially when it is from word of mouth. Landing a good job in yachting is all about timing and luck, but it’s also about who we know.
For new crew, applying with more than one crew agency can be beneficial. It increases the chances of being hired faster. There are hundreds of job postings online, and in today’s technological world, we can get notifications the minute new ones are posted.
My favorite sites are the ones where all the agencies post their new positions. It is easy to have everything all in one page, but it does make your chances of landing one slim because lots of yachties looking for work watch them, too. Some listings even count how many applicants have replied. I have seen one say 190 crew have applied. How in the world will I get picked out of 190 applicants?
Besides searching online for that perfect job, it is extremely important to keep in touch with those good crew we’ve worked with in the past. They will often help us land the next job.
Thanks to social media, this is pretty easy to do.
Some crew members leave boats on bad terms because of miscommunication, wrongdoings and misconceptions. As professional seafarers, we should always do our best to leave on good terms when the opportunity is present. That means to shake hands with and thank the head of department and captain for the opportunity to work, grow and learn onboard. If it’s not stepping over boundaries, consider writing a thank-you note to the owner or manager.
Definitely do not post anything negative on any social media platforms about the situation that caused the end of the job. Yachting is a small world. People know people, and those negative postings will get around.
I keep in touch with many of my previous crew members, especially a chief stew I respected and worked well with. We had great laughs and still do to this day. We have kept each other updated on our job searching in the hopes that we might work together again someday.
One day, she received a request from a fellow chief stew for a reference for me. A few days later, she received an email for a chief’s position on that same boat. Apparently, as often happens in yachting, crew leave so both the chief’s position and another stew position were suddenly available. We got excited about the idea of working together again.
Things didn’t work out for either of us on that boat, but we wouldn’t have even known the other was applying if we hadn’t kept in touch. Landing a job through someone we know is a great way to find work. Having that contact also enables us to learn a lot about the boat, the owner and the program before we accept, making the fit an even better one.
When it comes to interviews, I had have a fair share of all different ones. I had one interview where it was literally five minutes, quick and easy. They were in a rush, so they needed someone fast. I also had one where the chief stew asked me probably about 20 questions. She wanted to know how I would handle certain scenarios onboard with crew and guests. I had to list what is important during service, what to look for, and talk about my previous experiences with service.
She also some personal questions, such as what I like to do during time off because the crew were all into watersports. And for the first time, she asked me what I thought my future yachting career looks like. She wanted to hear what my goals were and what I wanted to achieve in the next couple of years.
One thing for sure is that I always bring a folder with all my certifications, copies of my CV, business cards, medical papers, etc. Most of my interviews have been good, and taking a look at possible questions they may ask before is always a help. I saved a list of questions I received in stew training class from Alene Keenan. It definitely allows me to be a little prepared beforehand.
Even though it is a struggle to find a great boat to work on, we never know who will help or who we will meet. Work relationships are important, as is preparing for an interview. Taking a gamble sometimes leads to an amazing journey.