+ 33 (0)4 93 06 09 12 | info@onboardmagazine.fr

For the superyacht industry professional
Laurence Lewis YPI


Over the course of the following article Laurence and Chloe look at how to climb the careers ladder, prepare and succeed in interviews, develop your career in yachting and if you’re an employer, our gurus have advice on how to conduct a successful interview and get the most out of the interviewee

New season, new comer, new team

Chloe Collet of YPI Crew looks at the 2023 recruitment season and asks whether you have the right qualifications

The 2023 yacht crew recruitment season has been quite intense. We have registered a very large number of new crew candidates in our database. Over 1100 new profiles in all departments have been uploaded into our online database since January 2023 with a spectacular increase in April 2023 of 457 new registrations in comparison with April 2022. This staggering amount, over 110 a week, is a key indicator of the current job-seekers market during the busy spring recruitment season. A large amount of these candidates are new comers from all four corners of the globe eager to secure their first job onboard.

Yachting has become a household word with the development of social media channels and reality TV. However, the current onboard employment opportunities, even if we are in a vibrant and expanding industry, will not be able to absorb this large number of potential new crew entrants, many without previous maritime or hospitality experience. How then does a new comer make a difference in such a competitive environment?

Our team of specialised recruiters has also grown this year with new coordinators and larger specialised teams in all departments, adjusting to the requirements of the industry and promoting our professional position as forerunners in the yacht crew recruitment sector. Each department has expert advice to share as the yachting industry has evolved a lot over the past ten years.

To start, our President Laurence Lewis recommends; “not to come to soon, too young with no life and work experience”. Working for UHNW individuals requires some maturity and self- confidence which comes with real life work experience. Holding a STCW Basic Training Certificate and passing a Seafarer’s Medical is not enough and this will not set you apart from the rest of the crowd.

The engineering department’s tips for success are to focus on building up a professional reputation before chasing a title or a salary/benefits package. An engineering or deck officer coming from a commercial background may need to start at a lower rank or on a permanent, non-rotational contract with less leave. Accepting a short-term or temporary assignment is also a great way to get your foot in the door and build the basis of a successful career in yachting.

Our interior department that has recently welcomed a new recruitment coordinator and strengthened the existing junior, specialised and senior stew teams encourages new comers to identify what makes them stand out from their other job-seeking counterparts. Do you have any special skills or talents that set you apart? For example, have you lived in many different countries and travelled and worked or studied abroad? Do you speak another language or have an artistic talent, play an instrument, sing or dance? Perhaps you have played an individual or team sport to a national or international level or run a marathon? Think outside the box about what makes you “you”. This could be your point of entry into the yachting industry.

Furthermore our deck and bosun department recommend that deck crew include any relevant skills such as carpentry, diving, watersports, experience as a life guard or having worked long hours in hospitality.

Finally, all new comers are advised to pay extra special attention to their social media footprint. Your future employer may conduct digital background checks. Double check your email address and create a new one just for professional correspondence if necessary. Be attentive to your profile photo on all online media and to what is publicly visible as this creates an initial first impression that could result in obtaining an interview or not.

Is it always about size?

As Spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, the many yachts scattered all over the world will start to prepare for the summer cruising season, notably in the Northern Hemisphere. Yachts of all types and sizes will complete their winter shipyard work or cruises and head for the Mediterranean hot spots, East and West. In crew recruitment we will start our busiest search and placement period, from March through to June. Many of our international crew, both experienced or green will be seeking a new opportunity onboard. Very often the question of the size of the yacht will be discussed as this determines the duties and responsibilities that go hand in hand with the operation of a smaller or larger yacht. Prospective crew candidates will be seeking a position on a yacht over or under a certain size or length. It is generally accepted that a superyacht is considered to measure over 24 metres. Indeed there are many rules and regulations that will come into play for yachts once they are over the 24 metre mark.

Two units are commonly used to measure and classify a yacht, feet and metres. The Imperial System for feet and the Metric System for metres. The British Imperial System evolved from the multiple Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and customary units that were employed in the Middle Ages. These thousands of local units were codified in 1824 and again in 1878 by the Weights and Measures Act on the basis of a selection of existing units. On the contrary, the metre is a rational system based on multiples of 10. But what is a metre? Where did it originate from?

From the Greek “metron” meaning measure, the metre is part of the international decimal system of weights and measures, the metre for length and the kilogram for mass. The decimal system was adopted in France in 1795 and is now officially used in most countries across the globe. Prior to adopting the decimal system a whole plethora of units of measure existed. This was extremely chaotic; with measures changing from town to town, region to region and country to country. Part of the lists of grievances (cahiers de doléances) drawn up by the three Estates (First Estate – clergy, Second Estate – nobility and the Third Estate who were the rest of the population) in France in the first part of 1789, the year of the French Revolution, were concentrated on the fact that there were no two equal measures in the country. These multiple units of measure were considered a source of great unfairness and inequality at the heart of the feudal society. An urgent reform of this frequently discussed idea was thus called for and finally in 1791 the French National Assembly was mandated to find a rational solution. A rational solution that could be nationally and internationally recognised and adopted, for all people, for all time “à tous les hommes, à tous le temps”. The new system would be based on a natural physical unit to ensure immutability.

The French Academy of Sciences at the request of the French National Assembly was therefore entrusted with the task of determining this new and totally original system. The Science Academy decided that the length of 1/10 000 000 of a quadrant of a great circle of the earth, measured around the poles of the meridian passing through Paris would be the basis of the measure. A team of interdisciplinary researchers was selected and they embarked on a six-year survey. This survey was led by the Astronomers Jean Baptiste Delambre, Jacques-Dominique Cassini, the Scientist and Hydrographer Pierre Mechain and Mathematician Adrien-Marie Legendre amongst others. They measured the meridian arc from Dunkirk France to Barcelona Spain between 1792 and 1798.

Thus the universality of the metric system lies in its definition. The quarter of the terrestrial meridian, that is to say the earth itself, is taken as the real unit, while its millionth part, the metre, is taken as the usual unit. In 1875 an International Bureau of Weights and Measures was established and The Treaty of the Metre was signed. A permanent laboratory nearby Paris in Sèvres keeps the international standards, and metrological research is also conducted within. The system has also evolved in time taking into consideration the technical and technological changes of the last century and more.

So whether it’s a foot or a metre or both on your CV, it is good to remember that it has taken many years to establish a measurement system that is internationally recognised!

This article was inspired by the book “Le Mètre du monde” written by Denis Guedj, Editions du Seuil, 2000.

What if, what if it all goes wrong?

The season is nearly over and many crew are looking forward to winding down in the Autumn after a successful summer cruising season. Unfortunately, it has not been a bed of roses and enjoyment for all our crew. Indeed, as recruiters, we are often called upon to assist when there is an incident or problem with a crew member onboard. This is especially true for new comers to the industry who may not be aware of their rights and which procedures to follow should there be a problem. Not an easy subject to address however things do happen and as the old idiom goes “Worse things happen at Sea”.

The problem scenarios are very diverse; a physical accident, safety or personal security issues, verbal or sexual harassment, contractual issues linked to non-payment of salaries for example.

So where do we start? Needless to say, your trusted and experienced recruiter can listen and understand your problem in the first instance. However, depending on the nature of the problem exterior assistance may be required to resolve the issue.

The 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) provides a well-documented and regulated response for all issues that are linked to the application of the Convention’s requirements that also include seafarer’s rights. MLC 2006 Regulation 5.1.5 stipulates that all yachts to whom the Convention applies must have On-board complaint procedures. These procedures may be used by all crew to lodge complaints, without prejudice nor victimization. The Maritime Labour Convention stipulates that the procedures should seek to resolve complaints at the lowest level possible. However, crew have a right to complain directly to the captain and, should they consider it necessary, to the appropriate external authorities.

The On-board complaint procedures should be provided to all crew in addition to the seafarer’s employment agreement (SEA). The On-board complaint procedures may be included within the SEA. The procedures should provide the contact information for the competent authority in the flag state or in the crews’ country of residence. Additionally, a name or names of a person(s) onboard the yacht who can, on a confidential basis, provide the crew member with impartial advice on their complaint and assistance for following the On-board complaint procedures available to them on the yacht.

The first step when faced with a problem is to address the issue with your head of department or superior officer. The head of department should attempt to resolve the matter but if this response is not satisfactory it may be referred to the captain who should handle the matter personally. If a problem remains unresolved it should be referred ashore to the yacht’s management company and the yacht’s owner or representative. The MLC 2006 Convention also ensures that all crew have the right to report a complaint to the port of call (Port State) in order to facilitate a prompt and practical means of redress.

The above guidelines should be clear to follow on a yacht that complies with the MLC 2006 Convention. However, should your yacht not be regulated by the Convention, then use the above steps as a guideline. No matter how big or small your yacht, private or charter, there are always solutions and you may need to contact other organisations to find assistance.
What else is available? In some instances, you can also contact a professional yachting organisation. The PYA (Professional Yachting Association www.pya.org/) or the GEPY (Groupement des Equipages Professionnels du Yachting www.gepy.fr/) for example. Both of these well-established and respected associations have a large network of professionals who may be able to offer advice if they cannot assist directly with your problem.

Another avenue to investigate is a trade union that deals with seafarer’s issues and you may consider contacting Nautilus International (www.nautilusint.org/en/) or the International Transport Workers’ Federation (www.itfglobal.org/en) who also deal with yacht crew. These large and international trade unions have legal specialists and multiple departments who can provide solutions and support on diverse matters. It may be wise to subscribe to a professional body before you have a problem as often assistance is only available to paying members. Remember that for a small fee they can also guide you in your future career development.

When dealing with a problem that may be more emotional or mental health related you can make contact with Yacht Crew Help (www.yachtcrewhelp.org/) who promote and find solutions for a healthy onboard working environment.

Last but not least there are also many social media sites that offer support to yacht crew on varying subjects.

Take care and remember solutions do exist!

Port side or starboard

Chloe Collet of YPI Crew looks at why it might be a good idea to get your head around some basic nautical terms before walking the quays

The Mediterranean summer cruising season is upon us. From Turkey to Gibraltar, all the ports are packed and the bays are full of luxurious yachts of all shapes and sizes. Following the ease up of Covid 19 travel regulations, yacht crew from far and wide have also returned to the shores of France, Italy and Spain amongst others to seek work. Crew search and placement services have been extremely busy since the early spring of 2022 with not only new comers to the industry but also experienced candidates eager to secure a new position.

As experienced and specialised recruiters we are often called upon to give expert advice to junior or entry level crew on how to succeed in their job search. Advice that we offer can be on many subjects and very often during a face-to-face interview in our office.

There are indeed multiple sources of information and a large array of pages on social media with helpful hints and suggestions on how to secure a position onboard. These pages may deal with the presentation of a CV and how to prepare for an interview for example. One useful element of advice, not often recommended to junior crew is to become familiar with nautical terms. This may not appear fundamental but the maritime world has its own set of vocabulary and yachting is no different. As a candidate seeking a position in a new industry researching and understanding a new set of terms can be vital in securing and building a successful onboard career. Of these terms there are two basic navigational terms that each “yachtie” should be aware of, notably port side and starboard side.

Where did these terms originate from and what do they mean? The origin of port and starboard sides date back to the 16th century and comes from the old English usage for their respective purposes. They are essentially used to indicate the left and right side of a vessel. Port and starboard are non-interchangeable terms referring to two halves of the vessel. Why not just use left and right? Well the left and right side may differ depending on the location of the observer, commander or deck crew whilst under navigation.

So in order to avoid a collision, when looking forward, toward the bow or fore of a ship, port and starboard refer to the left and right sides, respectively. The stern or aft is the rear portion.

In the early days of maritime navigation, before vessels had rudders on their centrelines, boats were controlled using a steering oar. Most sailors were right-handed, so the steering oar was placed over or through the right side of the stern. These steering oars functioned as the rudders of the craft and had to be expertly manoeuvred. Hence, it was easier to have the steering oar on the right-hand side so that the sailor was facing forward comfortably to navigate. This led to the right half that the sailor sat on being called the steerboard. The word steerboard was later converted into starboard which is a combination of two Old English words: stéor (meaning “steer”) and bord (meaning “the side of a boat”).

As the size of boats grew, so did the steering oar, making it much easier to tie a boat up to a dock on the side opposite the oar. However boats would dock with their left hand side against the port wharves. For smaller vessels and sailing yachts this led to some difficulty in loading goods from this side of the vessel. Subsequently this side became known as larboard, or “the loading side.” Nevertheless, over time and due to the confusion under sail of the two terms, larboard and starboard, larboard was subsequently replaced with port. This was after all the side that faced the port, allowing supplies to be ported aboard by porters.

In addition to the terms port and starboard, and especially used as an aid in night manoeuvres, colour coding was also introduced, red and green.

Red is the international convention for the port side, whilst green is the colour for the starboard side. This colour code system aids in preventing collisions when there is a lack of light. This is also common for aircraft and helicopter vessels.

There are many other basic maritime terms that can be researched, the difference between a sloop and ketch, a beam or caulking for example and it can be fun to not only widen your knowledge base but be equally well prepared for a new job in an exciting industry.

Psychometrics - to test or not to test?

Chloe Collet asks if you have ever considered psychometric tests in your recruitment process

Why and what is a psychometric test you may ask? Well, in a nutshell it can be defined as a “standard and scientific method used to measure an individual’s mental capabilities and behavioural style” (Institute of Psychometric Coaching).
So, why test? Psychometric testing allows for the person responsible for the hiring process, captain, head of department, management, to better match crew candidates to the role as well as to the other members of the crew team. These tests are frequently used in the corporate world to assess leadership qualities and team dynamics and are slowly being acknowledged in the yachting industry as a worthwhile recruitment tool too.

However, just the mention of a test can conjure up scary images and induce fear for both candidates and hiring managers alike. This may be linked to a distorted image associated with testing that has developed over time. Although psychometric testing may appear to be a modern practice today, its roots are nevertheless established as far back as 2200BC when Chinese Emperor Yushan tested for skills, intelligence and endurance for Official Public roles.

The origin of today’s tests can be attributed to Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of English naturalist Charles Darwin. Sir Francis, an explorer, anthropologist, eugenicist and pioneer of human intelligence studies, was fascinated by individual differences and is considered as the first to have elaborated in the early 1880’s an objective testing method based on examination and measurement of a candidate’s physical characteristics as well as sensory and motor skills. More than 17 000 people were tested by Sir Francis and he demonstrated that objective tests could provide meaningful scores. Nonetheless, with eugenics treated as an expression of class prejudice and Galton as a reactionary, one can indeed see why psychometric testing at its debut earned a negative reputation.

Following on from Sir Francis’s work, the tests as we know them now have evolved from French psychologists, Alfred Binet, Victor Henri and Theodore Simon. They developed together in 1905 a standardised test that could help identify young children between 3 and 12 years old affected by mental deficiencies with the intent of classifying children as a means for them to receive special education. It was a ground-breaking assessment tool and over time developed into a measurement of intelligence for all children. The Binet-Simon test is still in use today! Another reason perhaps why testing can be perceived in a negative light as linked to mental retardation.

From 1917 following the work of Robert Woodworth, an American psychologist, psychometric tests were designed for the US military to assess recruits for any neuroses or shell shock during enemy bombardment in World War I. Known as the Woodworth’s Personal Data Sheet this testing was only published in 1919 and thus did not serve its original purpose. It did however become the blueprint for other personality inventories and questionnaires.

In 1943 another personality inventory tool was developed by a mother and daughter team, The Myers – Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Based on the theories of Swiss Psychoanalyst Carl Jung. The Myers-Briggs test has also been the object of scientific criticism but it did contribute to further research and opened doors for the popularisation of personality profiling.

In the 1950s and 1960s the Big Five personality test was conceived after exhaustive analytical research to measure individual differences in personality, which to this day remains a well-recognised personality trait model. The Big Five personality or OCEAN model traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. This test and the multiple tests developed thereafter have all received their fair share of criticism and acclaim.

No test is therefore perfect and should be viewed as an opportunity. An opportunity to source the best fit candidate and additionally to provide a holistic overview of a candidate that a Curriculum Vitae doesn’t necessarily divulge. A personality profiling test can also provide an unbiased evaluation of a candidate and in the long term be a reliable predictor of job performance. A well-designed test can ultimately reduce some discriminatory practices and form part of a professional long-term approach to encourage longevity onboard and personal growth for the candidate.

So why not take the plunge? Investigate the myriad of tests that are available online and offered by trained professionals who have refined their testing techniques to provide a tool to assess candidates as objectively as possible.

It’s a two way street, the questions you need to ask

Chloe Collet looks at the questions you need to ask and the simple steps to signing up with a crew agency

The spring recruiting season is in full swing. As recruiters we will often be called upon for advice from our candidates with regards to their job search, the presentation of their CVs and other useful tips. Very rarely in a conversation does a candidate question the content of our terms of use and how their personal data is handled. Very often candidates just click the consent button that takes them to the desired registration page, installs the cookies and off they go!

Why enquire you may ask? Well terms do differ from one crew recruitment office to another, from one online platform to another and varies on each specific social media site too.

For example, a registered candidate on our website www.ypicrew.com can review what the registration process permits. We clearly indicate in our Terms of Use that a candidate authorises us to contact their referees. As a candidate seeking employment you must ensure that your listed referees are aware that you have listed them and that they will be contacted. Contactable referees must have a valid phone number or email address so a recruiter will not waste any time making contact. A reputable crew agency will follow-up on at least three reference contacts and thus be able to confirm a job-seeker’s suitability for the position as advertised. Having valid referees will confirm the professional approach a candidate has towards their job hunt and place their CV on the top of the pile of available candidates. Recruiting is not just verifying references but it does paint a more complete picture for a recruiter in making the best match. If your past employers do not offer references, it is worthwhile to ask an academic referee, or a training or yachting industry provider’s feedback. This could be someone from a school, university, maritime academy, provisioners or supply company.

Additionally, the information a job seeker lists on their CV needs to be true, accurate and not misleading. If there are blanks in your CV, discuss them with your recruiter so they do not disqualify you for an opportunity. If you took a year out to go travelling, to complete a new course, “took a break from yachting” or even had an unfortunate onboard experience in your last position, then let your recruiter know so they can advise you on how best to explain this on your CV in a positive and professional manner.

At YPI Crew our recruiters will not forward your CV for a position unless we have discussed the opportunity with you and have your agreement to present your profile. When registering with a variety of agencies do not hesitate to ask how the recruiters operate as this may not always be the case. Before registering, check the terms of use, not just the privacy or cookie policy and ensure your personal details are protected.

If you are seeking employment confidentially, it may be a good idea to steer clear of social media sites that can be accessed by all, including your current employer who may be surprised to see you are seeking employment elsewhere! If you are no longer available, let your recruiter know. Some agencies may continue to forward your details for other vacancies and this may compromise your current position.

Facebook job postings may offer a good alternative method of seeking employment. However, it should be noted that job scams do exist and you should be wary of any posts that contain unusual requests. As per the MLC 2006 regulations you should never be requested to pay any sums of money to secure employment nor work for free.

My final advice is to get to know your recruiter better so they get to know you better. There is no downside here, it will only help you in your career. It will bring you that much closer to securing your ideal position on the best yacht!

The ebb and flow of recruitment

Chloe Collet looks at how the crew recruitment business remains as adaptable as ever during COVID 19 times

The Mediterranean summer cruising season is nearly over and what a different season it has been for yacht recruitment! Following a near standstill in late March and April, in normal years the busiest hiring months, we witnessed an impressive recruitment drive from the middle of May and throughout June with all departments fully occupied placing crew. As recruiters we wore many new hats too as we were asked to solve problems linked to COVID 19 reduced international travel and restrictions. Finding the most suitable candidate in the right place was indeed a challenge and involved using some innovative methods to close the deal.

Considering the amount of successful engagements made these challenges proved once again that using a reputable crew placement service was not only a time saver but a guarantee that when time is of the essence, a necessity. Recruiters are not only highly adaptable and flexible they are also able to give the best advice to clients and candidates in difficult times: clients who need to source crew on board their yacht rapidly and multiple crew who are concerned about their job search and future prospects in an upturned market.

The key to this crisis period is therefore the ability to adapt or as defined by the Oxford Dictionary: “ to change something in order to make it suitable for a new use or situation”. As recruiters we are constantly seeking new methods of using the current available technology to keep the human touch. The human touch -so vital to our industry – has been even more important when personal interviews are impossible. We have learnt to video interview from our dining room and conform to new safety regulations in the office.

Looking towards and preparing for the final quarter of the year we can only encourage our crew candidates to adopt the same method and adapt to the ‘new normal’. If qualified engineers and chefs as well as the more experienced interior and deck crew have managed to find suitable opportunities, it continues to be a very difficult marketplace for both entry level crew as well as senior officers and captains.

For green or entry level candidates the months ahead for them should be time well spent in enrolling in additional training or specialisations in order to be ready to embark for the next Mediterranean hiring season and the Caribbean or Indian Ocean this winter. For example, completing a yoga instructor or beauty therapy/spa course. Most schools now offer their courses entirely on line and thus training is readily available regardless of location or travel restrictions.

Apropos of senior officers and captains, my particular domain of expertise, it could be a period of introspection and personal preparation for a role that may not be the “ideal” job or on the idealised “yacht”. Here too additional training can also be of great value as many of the current employment standards applicable in the corporate world can be embraced: training on sexual harassment, mental health issues for instance.

There are several groups in yachting that have started to address these questions too and whilst searching for a position it could be an additional benefit both personally and professionally for senior on board management. Additionally, as we adapt to an ever-changing recruitment environment, we can also use this as an opportunity with our yacht clients to widen selection criteria. To this effect, YPI CREW has recently joined an industry initiative that hopes to encourage increased diversity, especially on deck where female presence remains limited.

Our challenge moving forward is to continue to adapt, to change and create opportunities that help construct a professional and enjoyable workplace on board.

Here we go… there is always a renaissance

What will the new normal look like? Laurence Lewis takes a look at what Captains think the second half of 2020 will look like and reminds us that there is always a renaissance around the corner

June is my favourite month; we enjoy beautiful weather in the south of France with the bluest of skies, the temperatures are perfect and spring is slowly giving way to summer. Most crew are by now employed, the peak of the recruitment season is behind us and the tension can ease a bit, or can it? Let’s take stock of what has happened in the past three or four months in the world of recruitment and see how the covid-19 pandemic has changed the recruitment industry.

It all started with a couple of weeks of social distancing in the office followed by a brutal, almost overnight drop in the yacht recruitment activity as uncertainty, lockdown, isolation policies and travel bans gripped the world.
The number of permanent and temporary placements had, over the past 18 years, been rising steadily in the company so to record an 80% decline of activity over the month of April 2020 was shocking. Not only did the yachts, for the most part, freeze their recruitment drive, we also witnessed evidence of knee-jerk reactions probably fuelled by uncertainty when, as early as mid-March, some crew were asked to take pay cuts whilst some were simply laid off, mostly on charter yachts whose season was deemed compromised. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most resilient segment of the job market was engineering, witnessing some recruitment activity even during the height of the crisis, albeit at a much reduced level.
At the end of April we carried out a survey with over 300 captains who had engaged our services over the past year to assess what had really happened on board their yachts. It emerges that 77% of those who responded did not have to agree to modify their season further to the covid-19 pandemic, so only a minority were negatively impacted. A reduction of salary for them or their crew is the most common change recorded for those whose conditions evolved, followed by taking paid leave and in third position having an employment terminated.

For those who recorded a reduction in salary, 55% took a cut between 26% and 50% of their monthly wage and 40% took a cut of 25% or below. As far as outlook for the future was concerned, a majority of captains felt confident that recruitment would resume in June. Having said that, 25% also cited winter 2020/2021 and beyond as their next recruitment campaign.

We are even seeing a slight inflation in Chefs’ salaries as guests eating ashore is not part of the new normal

As the lockdown in France started to ease on the 11th May 2020, the job market recovered somehow with jobs that had been on hold for a month and half being activated again. Slowly the yachting ecosystem came back to life with a larger than usual number of crew on the market looking for employment. Salaries are however not dropping due to a lower level of international travel compared to pre covid-19 times with, as a consequence, a more limited pool of candidates actually able to join yachts in Europe. We are even seeing a slight inflation with Chefs’ salaries as guests eating ashore is not part of the normal owner or charter routine. More is expected of chefs which has a direct impact on salaries as clients compete for the best talent.

Virtual methods of assessment and selection have been common in yachting for years; a recruiter in France, a candidate in Australia and a client/yacht in Germany is a typical scenario so a mix of telephone and video interview is nothing new. With the lock down this process has just become more fluid, wide spread, and indeed, second nature.
We are all clearly at a cross roads, transitioning towards a new way of interacting. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that there is always a Renaissance just around the corner.

The recruiter v social media, can they live in harmony?

It seems no time since the Editor of ONBOARD gave me my last ‘down to the wire’ deadline to present my paper…

A few months on, another deadline looms and I find myself struggling with the suggested topic of recruitment trends in 2019 versus 2018… Well, I drew a blank…the elapsed time between both seasons is too short to allow for a compelling narrative. However, 2019 versus 2002 could work, that’s a cool 17 years/ 34 yachting seasons…

I chose 2002 as it’s the year I created YPI CREW, in September right on time for the Monaco Yacht Show.
In these past 17 years technology has evolved immensely and that’s fantastic as it has freed recruiters to do better things, to spend time positively engaging with clients and candidates.

Recruitment is an elaborate mix of technology and human interaction and both are equally important and totally inter-dependent and of course, recruiters need access to the best that both can offer.

However, each time someone calls me to pitch a new platform destined to become the latest tech ‘disrupter’ and about to crush the recruitment industry, I listen and weep inside.

Most of the time, these very smart guys and girls miss the point because they do not understand where the real value in recruitment is. Their model is invariably to connect a candidate to an employer via a clever algorithm with an app and the ever present mobile device. What they don’t realise is that the ‘matching’ is the easiest part of the recruitment process. Perhaps it’s because our industry is all about people, face to face interaction, working in close knit teams, but it seems to me, that the digital side of recruitment within our industry will never replace the human interaction that is so very important to us all.

A side note on this topic, in August 2019, Google disclosed that by 2020 it will shut down ‘Google Hire’ the job application tracking system it launched just two years ago. Do they know something we don’t?

In modern recruitment, the real value lies in the recruiter who talks to his clients, finesses the job orders, champions his candidates, and works hard to secure interviews for them, negotiate terms and act as a valued partner and middle person, sharing his knowledge and experience of the market, finds unique candidates, the list goes on…

These human skills are the ones which will crunch a deal, secure a job, make the difference and as yet, no technology can do this and I will go even further: Human skills are more important now and in the future than they were in 2002.

Social media was non-existent in 2002, but has been enthusiastically (perhaps a little too much) adopted by employers in all industries. Over time however, with information fatigue and overload, many clients realised that they do not have the resources nor the time to lose themselves in the abyss of social media.

Recruiters on the other hand have embraced social media and are building strong communities and solid ties with candidates. In turn, these relationships are what a recruiter can champion when dialoguing with a client, so this brings us straight back to the soft skills and the human interaction…

We have gone full circle.

Looking new crew? You need an agency with longevity, experience and knowledge

Generation Z, people born during the mid-nineties, is entering the workplace in the yachting industry.

With their high-tech and hyper-connected upbringing, they bring a new set of behaviours and expectations in their place of work. That’s just as well, as their work place is changing too and over the last few years recruiters have seen exciting new jobs arising in the industry.

The crew entering the market are now expected to come equipped with a large spectrum of skill sets to meet the needs of the 2.0 yacht owners and captains. The good thing is that Generation Z can multi task, even more so than Millennials. With constant interaction with apps, texts, videos they are used to paying attention and monitoring a variety of media and this will definitely set them apart from older colleagues.

One such new job is drone pilot. We started getting these requests the last couple of years but nothing like this season when we have seen the demand for Drone Pilots rise by 30 %. The pool of available candidates is still not very large but is increasing steadily. Of course, as always in yachting, it is about multi-tasking, so the drone pilot will always have another job aboard such as deckhand, bosun, 3rd/ 2nd officer.

What a great opportunity for a tech savvy person to start a career! Drones have become interesting on a couple of levels for yachts. We have all seen those beautiful videos of yachts cruising in the sunset, of people jet skiing in idyllic settings, kite surfing in the best spots. Drones capture the experience of yachting and allow guests to go home with great footage of their friends and family at play in the most desirable locations around the world. This is the ultimate holiday souvenir; it does not get better. Of course, drone pilots also provide great content for marketing videos for charter yachts whose Instagram accounts flourish as they compete for followers. Drones can also help in terms of inspection of hard to reach or normally in-accessible areas on the yacht, it’s a new pair of eyes, handy to have for the deck crew before starting a job. Becoming a certified drone pilot is definitely an interesting path to follow, which sets candidates apart in a market where owners and captains are looking for more and more extra skills.

A new generation of yacht owners whose centre of interests lie in extreme sports calls for a new breed of deckhands, so here comes the deckhand/ kite surfer instructor! For the 2019 Med season we have received a plethora of requests such as “looking for a fun, sporty kite surfer deckhand”. Whilst they spend some time teaching guests how to kitesurf their main duties will still be regular deckhand tasks such as washdowns, setting up the deck, line handling and tender driving. Many of these jobs are of course on expedition vessels that spend much of their time around the Pacific but not all. For those looking to enter this buoyant job market, the International Kiteboarding Organization are a good place to start and for now, the demand for such candidates outweighs the supply.

Another highly popular request this year has been for Spa and Beauty, Massage and Sport Therapists and we doubled the number of placements in this segment between the 2018 Mediterranean season and the 2019 season, perhaps not surprising as the size of yachts keeps on increasing. For many guests, for instance, a massage has become part of their enjoyment onboard the yacht to help them unwind from their busy life ashore. Popular treatments for guests and crew include deep-tissue massages, and treatments designed to be anti-stress and anti-fatigue. Therapists cater for a variety of requests and need to specifically be aware of how to address over exposure to the sun and sea.

Wellness and well-being are the defining concepts of our time and these new jobs on yachts address these needs. For recruiters this is also a stimulating time as we look forward to welcoming and accompanying newcomers into the yachting industry.

The challenges of recruiting seafarers in 2019

Laurence Lewis looks at crew shortfalls and the challenges of recruiting and retaining crew in 2019 and beyond

As yachts get larger and carry more crew with unlimited certificates, we see the skills gap between yachting and shipping reducing and thus naturally, these two worlds have started to intertwine in an unprecedented fashion.

I have elaborated in the past on the shortage of crew facing the yachting industry and believe it is now fitting to look at the bigger picture, especially given the forthcoming sectoral meeting in February 2019 in Geneva at the ILO on “Recruitment and Retention of Seafarers and the Promotion of Opportunities for Women Seafarers”… More on that in due course.

What is the current situation? Every five years the manpower report from BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council) and the ICS (International Chamber of Shipping) is published and in the most recent release, it is stated that the shortage of officers was in the order of 16 500 and is estimated to increase, continually, to over 145 000 by 2025. Although the global supply of officers is forecast to increase steadily, this is predicted to be outpaced by increasing demand.

At the end of 2018 ICS has released another study, this time conducted by the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA), regarding the potential effects of autonomous ships on the role of seafarers and the global shipping industry. With over 1.6 million seafarers currently estimated to serve on merchant ships trading internationally, the impact of MASS (Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships) on seafarers requires thorough consideration going forward.

“Encouragingly, the study indicates that there will be no shortage of jobs for seafarers, especially officers, in the next two decades. While the size of crews may evolve in response to technological changes on board, there may also be considerable additional jobs ashore which require seafaring experience,” Mr Platten, ICS Secretary General explained.

These numbers do of course, dwarf our yachting figures, yet with a total number of crew soon approaching 85 000, the yachting industry has its own crewing challenges, albeit very different from the Merchant Navy.

2018 has been the second busiest year at YPI CREW in terms of Engineers and Deck Officers new registrations along with an overall across the board registration increase of 8 %.Given the fact that the company has already a network of candidates spanning 16 years, this is a healthy percentage which highlights the vitality of the industry.

Yachting crew, and deck crew especially, if they stay in the industry past their university gap years, are for the most part, career orientated and racing towards “that” captain’s job. However, there just aren’t enough Captain’s jobs to accommodate all aspiring masters and therefore, officers will likely have to remain as deck officers for a longer period of time as can be the case in the Merchant Navy where many officers, both deck and Engineering are qualified well before promotion.

The current true shortage of crew in yachting lies within the interior department, with an acute shortfall of experienced stewardesses and stewards. Retaining stewardesses long term in the industry is a challenge and whilst offering rotation is perhaps a solution, eventually, those wanting to start a family will inevitably leave.

Shipping, cruising, yachting; complex worlds with different purposes, yet a single common denominator; the crew, and the necessity to attract and retain them.

The age wisdom

Laurence Lewis looks at the benefits of hiring an older crew member if you are a younger Captain. It will bring diversity and in turn build a stronger crew

Captains, why hiring crew who are older than you can make for a stronger and more balanced team and ultimately create a stimulating work environment for all and, most importantly, an enjoyable yachting experience for owners and their guests.

Just as there are now young millennial CEOs, there are young millennial Captains at the helm of ever-larger yachts and crews. This is changing the face of our industry as the introduction of MCA certifications did a generation ago in the late nineties, when a new wave of certified crew came to the front.

Young Captains have worked hard to get to the top and share values such as dedication, vision, and drive whilst having probably worked with experienced mentors who helped them along the way. Whether yachting ‘through and through’ or from a mix of commercial and yachting experiences, regardless of your unique path and story, captaining a large motor yacht is a great accomplishment.

Building a crew is a challenge for anybody and nothing is truer than this for the first time Captain. ” He’s older than me, should I hire him? ” is a question in every millennial Captain’s mind as he or she sifts through CVs.

Initially, it might seem odd to have someone older than you report to you, so here a few points to keep in mind:

– New job, new yacht, your first Captain /Owner relationship to create, develop and manage…you have a lot on your plate. An older crew member, be it Chief Engineer, Purser, Chef at your side can give you much needed support and will require less ramp up time to get the job done quickly and efficiently without too much input from yourself, giving you more time to concentrate on your new day to day job of a Captain.

– An older crew might need less maintenance – they want to do their job, do it well and go home on holiday or rotation.

– If an older candidate wants the job you are offering, it implies he wants to be there and has chosen you, just as you have chosen him. This person will be focused on delivering a top service and doing a good job, for the benefit of the operation as a whole.

– An older crew member has probably got a great network of handy industry contacts that as a new Captain you might not have had the chance to fully develop, yet can instantly benefit from.

– An older crew member can also act as a mentor for the most junior crew of the team, thus creating a nice dynamic. The mentoring is thus split and does not solely rest on your shoulders.

– An older crew member can bring stability; resilience and years of experience will have taught him how best to overcome set backs and how to move forward. This person will likely have been exposed to a multitude of guests and will know the importance to think on his feet and even pre-empt events and demands.

– An older crew member can have a calming effect in the crew mess and have a positive influence on others.

Safety is obviously a key component of running a top yacht and naturally, it is very high on most owners’ agenda. An age diverse crew and the mix of individual experience which comes with this kind of team, contributes to creating a strong safety culture. Which owner would not appreciate that?

So, in summary a diversity of age within the crew can be good, and as a Captain, hiring an older crew member will definitely have a positive impact on the whole crew and yacht and probably increase your efficiency as a first time Captain.

The two way street

Laurence Lewis looks at the role of a recruitment consultant and how managing expectations for both the potential recruit and the employer is an essential part of the process

These days we all have high expectations, all the time. We expect better jobs with better salaries, on better yachts, with better crew and colleagues, better social and family life with more rotations, better wi-fi, better food, better crew cabins, better tips, better heads of departments, better absolutely everything.

Employers and employees have access to vast amounts of information through social media, crew know what is going on elsewhere onboard other yachts and therefore, expectations come at you from every angle. Managing and addressing those expectations is paramount to ensure a successful recruitment procedure.

Also in this picture is the recruiter, that trusted middle person whose role is to advice both parties and navigate towards a common ground and positive resolution, managing expectations because, most of the time …. recruiters know best – of course we do, it’s our job, we spend our days talking to crew, to clients, to the market.

Getting off to a good start will often involve writing down a good job description, a concise summary of the role with some insights into the specifics of your yacht, the culture and value onboard. This is often an overlooked process, yet, once done the job description will become a valuable and reusable tool only requiring  minor updating from one season to the next.  Recruiters love professional job descriptions and will use them to truly champion your jobs with candidates.

Your recruiter will discuss your expectations and how they fit with the market. Will it be a struggle to fill the job because of an unrealistic salary in a candidate short market? Is your leave package competitive enough? Are you asking too much in terms of skills when perhaps onboard training can be a solution?  Recruiters know unicorns don’t exist and will transparent with the client. One must also consider the necessity of building a strong team on board. So the environment amoungst the rest of the current crew is an important element to discuss and evaluate. Looking at individual strengths and evaluating what the new crew memeber will deliver into an already successful team, at any rank, can be vital.

Recruitment is a two way stream and just as the client is assessing the candidate, candidates also evaluate their potential new employer - First impression count. Keeping the line of communication open is important and any delays or change of plans in the interview schedule have to be addressed / discussed quickly and a new plan of action set up.  Once the momentum is lost, it is very hard to regain it and the candidate will have found another job, elsewhere.

Recruiters of course also manage candidates expectations and we have endless discussions on salaries, leave, rotation and the grass supposedly greener on the other side….We can help and guide a decision making process and make suggestions. And yes, absolutely, sometimes the ‘first job that comes along’ is the best job, nothing wrong with that, just as the majority of yachts are private, so why wait for that elusive charter yacht ? You need to way up the benefits of both situations. Make a list of your personal pros and cons of both charter yachts and private ones, and also think about your future career progression.

Managing expectations on all sides is part of the recruiter’s remit.  Only naive recruiters will stick to the candidate and client’s brief. Decision making always involves an emotional dimension and thinking outside the box and championing the underdog, is often what will make the difference and bring two sides together.

Working together and building a strong team

With the global fleet of superyachts expanding at a rate of knots, Laurence Lewis looks at the challenge to build strong teams on board with crew from different cultural backgrounds

The yachting industry is in good health as seen by the number of sales recorded by the brokerage market in 2017 and by the number of vessels presently under construction and planned in the next few years. There are 773 yachts being built which will require up to 8,600 crew to man them and, together with the existing fleet, this could bring the total number of yacht crew in the world close to 85,000.

As the demand for qualified crew is increasing and looks set to rise further over the next decade, a shortage of new talent is threatening the yachting industry. The need to embrace cultural diversity in yachting has never been greater. English is of course the ‘lingua franca’ of our industry but no longer can our industry be the preserve of the stereotypical ‘Jolly Jack Tar’.

Candidates are required to disclose their nationality when they register on our database yet in order to comply with the need to prevent discrimination based on nationality, this is not a searchable criteria so we do not capture statistics as to who comes from where. We can however look at candidates who ‘check in’ and in any given period, over a third of the deckhands and stewardesses who check in are British, followed by South Africans and far behind Australians and New Zealanders and even further behind European citizens and the rest of the world. This gives us a snapshot of the industry and the makeup of the yachts (except for Filipino crew who mostly work with Filipino based agencies).

There are 28 countries in the EU, that’s 28 countries whose citizens can move with ease around the world, yet many of these countries are, for various reasons ranging from lack of seafaring traditions/maritime history from being land locked to lack of a long standing hospitality industry, to political isolation up to recent years, very much under-represented in the industry. Often, even at equal skill level when they come forth, crew coming from this pool of potential candidates struggle to break into the industry. This has to change, the industry needs to open up to new talent, yachting clearly needs more intercultural cooperation.

Multicultural teams are prone to ethnocentrism with minority crewmembers feeling ignored and disconnected

Yachts are of course highly self-contained, where crewmembers work and live together. More so then ashore, a sense of ‘belonging’ is necessary to build a successful team. Cultural diversity, when badly managed, can indeed be the source of further conflicts, misunderstandings, alienation and even a hazardous working environment. Multicultural teams are prone to ethnocentrism with minority crewmembers feeling ignored and disconnected which leads to low morale, frustration and a high crew turnover.

There is therefore no doubt that increasingly, the challenge facing captains will be to establish a cohesive team with crew from various cultural backgrounds and in doing so, develop a cultural intelligence allowing him to understand the ‘fault lines’ within the crew and the potential for misconception and miscommunication which may arise.

Making every crew member feel valued will create an environment of trust where people will know they can rely on each other to get the job done. There are no small jobs, everybody counts, everybody is essential in the success of a trip.

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a good way to build personal bonds and will help in anticipating challenges.

The captain must establish team norms and a clear code of conduct that everyone sticks to — no matter what their personal default might be. Yachting is not for everybody and never will be, but the industry needs the cultural melting pot of crew to grow from a teacup, where it is currently, into a cauldron; we’ll all be better for it in the end.

Laurence Lewis asks why ageism should be such a big issue in superyacht recruitment

Age is something that does not matter unless you’re a cheese.

So said the surrealist genius filmmaker Luis Bunuel…. Yachting, where are we at on the topic of ageism ? Do captains and crew feel discriminated against for being too old or too young? Does age matter?

I felt it might be interesting to look at how age is perceived in a wider European context before looking at our niche market and in doing so I stumbled upon an interesting survey published by Eurage (European research group on attitude to age) which had been commissioned by Age UK. The survey sought the view of 55,000 people across 28 European countries and it emerges that age discrimination is experienced more often than any other form of discrimination, which came as a surprise to me.

Age discrimination is of course very different from any other discrimination such as sex or race, as our age changes continuously. We go from young to middle age to old and as we age, our perception of age discrimination evolves with time. We can assume that age discrimination is not necessarily deliberate and does not result from negative intentions but is the result of how we perceive and categorise one another, as being young or old.

For example the age at which youth is perceived to end varies considerably from 34 in Sweden to 52 in Greece and across the 28 countries participating in the survey, the mean age that young was perceived to end was 40.

Further studies show that the middle age group is seen as having the highest social status and the old age group the lowest. One can then extrapolate to say that the middle age group is also perceived as being more desirable in a work environment. Not surprisingly, people also feel more positive towards their own age group which again, in a professional environment, can create a bias towards hiring people from the same age group.

Yachting is a niche market exposed to the same issues as the rest of society and therefore what one needs are tools and solutions to combat this grey ceiling syndrome

Yachting is a niche market exposed to the same issues as the rest of society and therefore what one needs are tools and solutions to combat this grey ceiling syndrome. “Failure to hire” cases are notoriously hard to prove and litigation is hardly ever the answer.

So we ask what is it? Liz Ryan from the Human Workplace movement has the answer with the ‘pain interviewing’ technique. It’s not a cure for age discrimination but it will shift the attention away from age and in fact, will make the frosty topic of age irrelevant during the interview. The key is to find which business pain the interviewer needs to solve and to position yourself as the solution, as an adviser, a consultant.

This works because it makes sense. Let’s face it, most people hate having to recruit. They don’t know what questions to ask, they worry about getting it wrong and hiring someone who won’t fit, they worry about investing precious time in hiring and training someone who will leave, they are not sure how to assess candidates and differentiate them. If done badly recruiting can be a time consuming exercise employers generally dread and this goes for yacht owners recruiting captains too.

An employer in pain, and unfortunately most are, is good news for a candidate who can take control of the conversation and focus in addressing the pain. It is not about answering questions in a sheep like fashion, like perhaps more inexperienced candidates might do, but more importantly, about positioning yourself as an expert, who has an opinion and solutions. If you can do that, the employer can’t afford to care about how old you are because he will have identified you as the solution to his pain.

Its not all about answers, you should have some questions you want answered too

It’s time for the Monaco Yacht Show and the beginning of another recruitment season; if you are on the job market, you need to prepare and rehearse. I have often written about interview techniques yet there is one topic I have never approached even though it seems to catch candidates unaware at the end of the interview. The moment when the principal asks “Do you have any questions for us?” Sitting there agape with a bewildered look is not an option so, how do you avoid stumbling at the last minute ? It is your last chance to make an impression, so, let’s make it a good one!

Most captains and crew are well prepared to answer technical questions but many have overlooked this important period during the interview process. They have simply not thought
about any questions to ask or are unable to improvise and think on their feet. They ask questions that suggest they have not done their homework about the yacht or ask about the salary and benefits which is a real turn off for most employers. Not having any questions to ask sends the signal that you are not really interested in the position so, even if you feel a lot of ground has been covered during the meeting, you must think of at least one question to ask.

Of course, an interview is a two way street but when an employer asks “Do you have any questions for us ?” he is not interested in how the job will impact your private life. Unless you have been head hunted which is a different scenario altogether, now is not the time to ask if the yacht can winter in Palma just because you live there with your family! Through these final questions, an employer will try to assess your interest and curiosity in the position and the yacht, if you are interested in bringing added value to the yacht and if your personality is the right fit. So, let’s look at some of the questions one should NOT be asking at this point; the ones best left for a second interview or conversation once an offer has been made:

How often will you actually come on board the yacht ?
This is really off putting for the yacht owner as it implies you want to see him as little as possible. You come across as lazy and self-centered.

I live 15 minutes’ drive from the port where you winter, I’d like to go home every evening off season, would this be okay with you?
This question is all about you; you bring zero added value to the yacht by asking this.

What kind of salary are you offering?
Wrong time to ask, this is best left for a second interview or once mutual interest has been expressed. Same for any benefit related questions and time off – now is not the time.

Do you have any plans to buy / build a new yacht?
This make you seem uninterested in the job on offer and invariably alarm bells will ring with the interviewer : will you quit the job he is
offering you at the first opportunity?

Things you could easily find doing a google search or talking to the recruiter: i.e when was the yacht built?

This shows complete lack of interest and preparation.

So, what kind of questions should you be asking ?

Questions about you:
“Do you have any concerns about my application?” This is a great question as it allows the interviewer the possibility to express his reservations about you and it gives you the opportunity to tackle his fears and really change his mind about you. It also shows that you are a confident person, not afraid of handling rejections. This really works, try it ! You can also say “From what you said, I am very interested in the position. How many other captains am I competing with for the job?”

Questions about the job:
“Why is the position vacant?”, “Why is the current captain leaving?” Anything along those lines such as “How long was the last captain employed with you?”

Questions about the employer:
“What did you like best about your last captain?” or “What is the most important quality you look for in a Captain?” If you want the job, go for it. The “Do you have any questions for us?” can really be a deal maker or indeed a breaker and certainly not a question to be underestimated.

Happy interviewing.

Grit, resilience and yachting. How do you know if the interviewee has what it takes to last the distance?

Grit has always been one of my favourite English words, it’s punchy and powerful with a dramatic connotation. Worryingly, I could not find a French translation which truly satisfies me… what does that say about us French? No no; no French bashing! What I concern myself with today is the topic of strength and resilience in the work place.

Yachts are like no other work places and present unique challenges given the closeness and lack of privacy which clearly exacerbates any existing and underlying tensions. What could be blown away overnight for office workers can easily turn highly toxic in the confined environment of a yacht… And next you know you find yourself quitting your job impulsively, on a whim, I call it the “bridge-burning quit”. Recruiters witness it all and hear it all, the anger, the deception, the inability to manage emotions… and often, it happens even before the season has truly started. Things are just getting going; the sous chef is throwing a wobbler and is quitting on the spot, leaving the head chef to worry about filling his place and cooking for the crew..or worse, he’s leaving in the middle of a guest trip. We’ve all experienced it at one level or the other, mostly with junior crew, but not always.

Acceptable if the employer has a history of dangerous or unethical behaviour, ghosting is, most of the time, a very ill-chosen strategy and often crew come to regret it. The message inferred is that you’re a bad decision maker, unable to keep calm and to evaluate a situation rationally. It is also often a selfish, self-centered act which does not take the interest of the group, in this case the crew, into account. “Apres moi le deluge” carries that sweet taste of instant gratification but will invariably leave a bitter taste with your fellow crew members and captain. It’s also not the best as far as reputation building is concerned, but that point is just confirming the obvious.

Reacting impulsively or responding resiliently… vast question Angela Duckworth is a psychologist who studied this quality and wrote a book ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’. She says,“empirical evidence confirms common intuition: a disposition to endure to the end rather than quit early is the hallmark of high achievers. Moreover, grit goes hand in hand with both life satisfaction and emotions like joy and pride. So it seems that in general, not quitting is a pretty good way to live life.”

If grit is so important in yachting, where excellence and attention to details are also highly sought-after traits, how does one recognise it at the interview stage? How can one detect this mix of competence, persistence and grace? Basically, how do you know you’re not hiring a quitter? It is, after all, easier to teach someone new skills than to change their character traits.

The bottom line, grit is very difficult to identify when reading a CV and is even more so with junior crew who have little relevant yachting experience.

Yet, clues can be found here and there, in the hobby section of the CV perhaps. Is this individual a high achiever in sport or other hobby? Has he taken responsibilities at a young age or shown some other goal-oriented pursuit? Any sign of patience, courage and endurance? The candidate will probably enjoy talking about a subject he enjoys and will open up and reveal his personality.

If nothing jumps out, the direct approach works too with junior crew “ You have little experience on yacht, how do I know you are not going to leave the yacht in the middle of the season?“ and “what would you do if you realise in the middle of an important guest trip that yachting is not for you?”, “ What do you think the goal of the crew is on a yacht? “ “Tell me about a successful team work experience you’ve had”, “Have you ever worked with a difficult person/crew member and how did you deal with the situation? “, “How do you manage your stress?”

More than a generational indicator, grit is a process of gradual discovery of one’s ability to forge coping mechanisms to navigate through a crisis. So perhaps, grit does also come with experience…

The pillars of wisdom - what are the four pillars of a Captain's job which need addressing during interviews?

A large number of seasoned chief officers are hitting the captain’s job market and are thus competing with established captains for a small number of jobs. Between 2015 and 2016 we recorded an increase of 21% in terms of new registrations of Chief Officers and 20% for captains. This is a large increase, bearing in mind that YPI CREW has been trading for over fourteen years and is therefore already an established player. This is not the surge of activity a start-up can expect from year one to year two. The increase of captain’s registrations is a sign that this market is highly competitive and basically, securing a captain job is getting tougher. Interview preparation is therefore paramount in order to succeed.

Clients enlist crew agencies for captain head hunting assignments mostly when discretion is required but the majority of captain jobs are still filled by word of mouth or through personal recommendations. One of the least enjoyable parts of our job as recruiters is to inform captains “no new jobs have come up”. Whilst we might not immediately come up with a job, we can however, share a few interview tips to ensure you make an impact with the decision maker in the aforementioned crowded market.

There are four ‘pillars’ of a captain’s job which need addressing during interviews; Navigation and Safety, Crew Management, General Yacht Administration and Finance / Hospitality.

These four points need discussing and developing in a confident way during the interview. I cannot stress enough how decisiveness, together with confidence, are the qualities most owners of today’s large yachts will look for in a captain which is why developing and qualifying answers is critical. I sometimes witness that captains hold back in sharing their knowledge and professional opinions due to the fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’ which could ruin their interview or show them in a bad light, not realising that this is totally counterproductive. Coming across as a ‘nice guy’ is important of course, but more important is to position yourself as a charismatic leader who has a total grasp of his profession and duties.

If somehow the interviewer is not addressing one of the four pillars, take the lead and ask all the questions allowing you to build of clear picture of the job and what is expected of you. By asking questions the captain will transform an interview script into a warm human conversation and that’s when the chance of nailing the job greatly increases. Here’s an example regarding the Hospitality pillar: “I have changed job frequently over the last few years for the reasons I explained earlier, but what about you, how many captains have you had so far?” This question may not always be appropriate but it has the merit to open a conversation on what works and does not work with this specific client and invariably, a genuine exchange on his expectations can follow on from there, allowing both parties to assess if they fit with each other.

Many interviewer like to start an interview by asking “tell me about yourself” or “what brings you here ?” It’s your job as the interviewee to prepare ahead of the day, to walk through the interview process in your mind in order to answer in a concise and interesting way. Hopefully your interview has turned into a conversation and you feel more relaxed and comfortable to then address the three real questions in the owner’s mind, the questions which ultimately matter and which he will not ask aloud: Can you do the job? Will you like the job? Will I like having you there?

2017, when the interviewee takes control

I have covered the subject of interviews various times over the years yet I feel this topic deserves further coverage before the start of the 2017 Mediterranean season when a new generation of captains and crew will hit the job market.

There is no denying it, whether you’re a deckhand, stewardess or captain, being interviewed is a nerve wracking experience and it is often how you handle the associated stress which determines the outcome.

How can you ace an interview and obtain a job offer? After all that’s the ultimate goal, anything else is a waste of time, yours included.

One of the best pieces of advice is to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer; if you’re a captain then that will probably be a yacht owner and his spouse or the owner’s representative and manager. If you were them, what kind of qualities would you want your captain to have?

Well, here’s the thing, most employers, yacht owners included, regardless of their nationalities and lifestyles, will be impressed if you position yourself as a confident problem solver. That’s the secret in acing most job interviews.

How can you position yourself as a confident problem solver?
It starts with your body language, be natural, wear clothes in which you feel smart, comfortable and which are appropriate for the occasion. If I am writing about this it’s not because my word count for this article is low and needs boosting but because people often get it wrong. Where and what time of the day is the meeting? Is it a breakfast meeting in a hotel by the sea? Is it a lunch meeting in the City in London? Two radically opposed environments which require different outfits. We’ve all done it, being overdressed or under dressed is never a good feeling, it not only affects our performance but it also instantly influences the interviewer’s opinion in a negative way.

Being natural is about having a normal conversation, answering and asking questions and developing on ideas and topics. What impresses clients most is when a captain is able to expand on ideas and have an opinion. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion, most owners don’t want a yes-man; they want an intelligent man or woman who can lead and who will run the yacht in a safe manner for him and his family.

An interview requires practice, take the time to prepare. Do you know how to talk about yourself in a concise, professional and interesting way?  Are you confident in answering the “tell me about yourself question”? With some many tutorials available, including our own series of YPI CREW “be amongst the best” videos on YouTube,  there is no excuse for stumbling on this question; the reply should be smooth and to the point.

A problem solver gives detailed, informative answers to questions and tries to enter into a conversation by asking a question back – the more the conversations flows the better.

Of course that’s not always possible and there are as many interview scenarios as there are yacht owners, but it is my experience that too many captains hold back during an interview and fail to share important information.

If there is a point in your career that is particularly important or impressive, or something that really defines who you are, you must absolutely find a way to say it and place it during the conversation.

If an owner has experienced previous issues with a captain and crew he may ask seemingly odd questions:  “what would you do if xxx and xxxxx happens?” Answer the best way you can and follow up with your own question “I am surprised by this question, have you had such issues before?” or “I am surprised by this question, may I ask why you are concerned about this?” By doing this you really position yourself as someone who is confident and invariably this will open a frank discussion allowing the tension to drop a notch.

“I’m just going to be myself” is a comment I frequently hear and I agree – nobody wants to work with a phony.  The key however is to be both natural and well-prepared, an interview is not a chat, and it’s the “well prepared” that will make all the difference and give you the edge. Best of luck!