Impressions makes a difference in finding steady work
One American deckhand asks why he isn’t finding permanent work when he has been doing a lot of dayworking.
Some crew want to blame their CVs or the job market for their lack of luck finding a permanent job. However, from my experience, if you get daywork jobs, the problem is more about what is happening when you arrive on board that is affecting your chances of being hired.
Captains and first mates are looking for deck crew who have the following qualities:
- A personality they get along with and that will get along with the rest of the crew. They are looking for someone who blends in, personality-wise, with the other crew and who is friendly. A big portion of crew are not Americans so if you come across stereotypically American, this could hurt your chances of being hired. It’s sad, but it’s true.
- Someone who is keen to work hard and is obviously not lazy. You need to show that you are willing to help out anywhere that is necessary. Offer to help the stews clean up lunch or offer to take out the garbage for the chef if you’re passing by.
- Someone who takes directions happily and also has the intelligence to figure some things out on their own. Do not try and overstep your bounds by acting like you know everything. This will infuriate the first mate to no end.
- Someone who does not have annoying habits such as talking loudly or being loud with other bodily functions.
- Someone who presents themselves well, does not have tattoos that show, etc. You need to look like a yachtie so that the chief who is hiring you can picture what the owner or guests on board will see when you are standing there to greet them.
- Someone who shows respect to the crew and officers on board. This is where many other cultures who are raised in a more formal way have an advantage over many Americans. Captains and chiefs want to see that you understand rank. Respect all crew but show extra respect to the chiefs.
I came to Ft. Lauderdale in March 2010,stayed in a crew house for three days, took my Silver Service course and before the course was over had two interviews. One of my interviews turned out to be a temporary-to-permanent position on a 130-foot yacht that led me to later become the chief stew for 1.5 years.
How did I do this?
Many people say I was lucky, and while luck and timing has a great deal to do with it, I also created this outcome with my actions. Here is how I did it:
- I bought and read Julie Perry’s “Insiders Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess” front to back and took notes.
- I prepared myself mentally by making a vision board of everything I looked forward to about the industry. I kept it near my bed where I would see it every day. I’d look at it and get very excited about one day soon being far away from LA city life on board somewhere exotic.
- I stayed in a crew house where most new crew spent their evenings at Waxy’s. Instead, I went to bed early and had a plan for what I would do the next day. While networking with fellow crew is helpful, being at the bar every night is not productive. Get up early and get to class or to the crew agents. Have some fun but make finding work a priority.
- I highlighted my skills by advertising myself as a new stew with waitress and cruise ship experience in an online job board. From that I received two calls for temporary stew positions.
- When I arrived at my first interview, I looked the part: khaki shorts, white polo and boat-style shoes. I didn’t wear a lot of makeup or any perfume. I took notes and appeared eager and professional. Later, the chief stew who hired me told me that while my CV got my foot in the door, it was my appearance, attitude and professionalism that got me the job.
This can happen to you. Having been in the industry for four years now, I can say that many crew do not do what I have outlined here and have a tough time finding work. If you keep and show your enthusiasm, stay professional, and look the part, you will be head and shoulders above many of the crew looking for work today.
Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from entries in her blog, The Yachtie Glow (www.angelaorecchio.com), which offers tips for crew on how to be healthy, fit and happy on board. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.