It's that time of year again! It's that time when hundreds if not thousands of new crew flock to the industry to find daywork and permanent positions on yachts. Crew come from all over the world and compete for fewer jobs than there are crew.
Here are some interesting 'educated guess' statistics from Five Star Crew from having worked in and around the industry for over 11 years:
- up to half of all new crew go home within the first few months of starting out.
- another 25% struggle through the first year before either giving up or finally getting hired full-time.
- the other 25% get permanent positions within the first few months of starting out.
Half? What? Why? No one ever told you THIS before! The simple answer is economics. There are more new crew looking for positions than there are jobs available. But a better way to understand this, is you have the control to be in whichever group you want!
If you want to end up in the group getting permanent positions, follow this lead. Sounds easy until the party is knocking at your door:
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK early! And this means YOU! Getting you Mom or Dad to do your research or ask questions for you won't get you very far. Many social media groups can have disturbing answers to concerned Moms who are only trying to help. Here is a webpage we created ESPECIALLY for new crew - follow it to a T and you will be ahead of the crowd: Newbies
- Book your crew house AFTER doing research, read reviews, ask informed friends, find out it's location with respect to the docks. Research monetary needs and costs of things - will you have a kitchenette or will you have to eat out everyday? Is there laundry near by? Do you have transportation (can you get a used bicycle with lock?) This is the part where your parents CAN help!
- Spend time on your resume! This is your #1 tool. It shows what you're made of and is your best representation. Your resume can sit on the bridge of a yacht for days waiting for someone to get time to review it again, and it better be good. There are likely thousands of you trying for jobs so spend time here FIRST! Here is a great template and it's BEST if you do it yourself: Resume Template
- GET OFF THE INTERNET! (ok, after you research your crew house, register with agencies and do appropriate research). Too many new crew spend hours a day applying for jobs online, posting on the various social media websites where your absolute best entry in to the industry is to shake hands with everyone you meet. Knock on hulls. Make it clear you're green but you're keen. To real, live people standing on yachts. Your first job will come via word-of-mouth or by meeting someone face-to-face. Almost guaranteed.
- Stop asking if someone posting a job is looking for something other than what's posted. You will often not get an answer back, at all. If you're a new deckhand and they're asking for a new stew, imagine being at the receiving end - you have several hundred resumes coming in and someone asks this question. Do you have time to answer? Is this even an appropriate question?
- Please stop applying to jobs for which you're not qualified. You waste hours of your time and that of others and will almost never get a response. If they need a Yachtmaster, there is a reason they ask for it - it could be legislation for the yacht and they cannot hire you if you don't have it. We call this, 'throwing darts'. Please stop throwing darts.
- This is a luxury industry. Represent it! Wear fresh clothes daily, ironed if at all possible (bring a small iron and learn how to use it!) Research what to pack - khaki shorts or skorts and white polo shirts (with no logo) are best. Flip-flops (neutral color, nice-looking, clean are best). A small backpack with which to dockwalk.
- Shave! Long hair and beards do not bode well when starting out. Clean-cut is best. For women, tie your hair back as you would wear it for work.
- Take your sunglasses or sunnies OFF when speaking to someone, anyone, regarding working on a yacht.
- Want it! Stay away from new friends who want to party every night. One or two drinks then GO HOME. Go to bed early and get on the docks early. You can smell alcohol on your breath the next day if you drink/party too much and you may have mingled with existing crew who watched you fall down in the streets the night before. Be sure there are eyes and ears ALL over town. This industry is about 40,000 people strong and your reputation starts online and stems in to bars, on to docks, and ultimately from the hard work you do dayworking.
- Once you get daywork, the best advice we can give is to simply do what you're told to do. Clean up behind you (move things out of the way of others working around you) and do not try to do things differently than how you were told to do them. Most of your superiors started out where you are and need someone who will do exactly as told - not to suggest this and that. There is often not enough time in a day to try your way. Wait until you're permanent or asked before trying to make suggestions (no, we do not clean windows with newspapers - remember newsprint runs in water and leeches out on big white boat paint!)
- Stay easy-going. Worrying about too much only inhibits the process. Your job is to make someone else's job easier and if you're questioning things, doing things your way, sleeping off a hang-over in a compartment somewhere, you're not showing you're effective. Often yachts have 3-month trials so work hard and show you can take it.
The hardest part of yachting is to know each yacht is hosting it's own mini-society. You work together but you also live, eat, breath and play outside of work, together. You travel and can get sea-sick together and can have very hard days together where you want to strangle someone when the pressure is on. Personality is key and getting along is paramount. Trust that feeling in your gut if it's telling you this is the wrong yacht for you. There are always other yachts and you will save yourself a lot of grief if you listen to your gut instincts sooner rather than later.
For more tips and advice on starting out, please read this page linked below, created especially for new crew. And remember all that stuff your parents taught you about being responsible is going to come in handy - this isn't, by any means, a 'normal' job!
Click here: Newbies
All the best this season and beyond!