Is positivity enough to break into yachting?

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Q: Abi, 21:

“I recently met someone who told me that it wasn’t worth going to Antibes to find work—he said he went last year and spent all his money looking for a job that never came. He told me the whole experience was depressing and he wished someone had warned him how tough it was. I’ve already booked my flight so I’m going anyway and I’m still excited, but I want to know how much of this is true. What are my chances of success? I want to be prepared. Do you think he just had a bad experience? Maybe he was just being negative – I am a really positive person so maybe I will be OK?”

A: The Crew Coach:

I talk about positivity a lot in this blog and having a positive attitude is indeed a very important mindset to adopt in this industry (and beyond!). But I think there’s a big difference between being positive in a clear-headed, thorough, strategic kind of way, and just turning up with a naïve belief that great things will just ‘happen’ when you get here.

Every year I see crew arriving in Antibes with stars in their eyes, convinced they’ll land a job in the first few days. Many of them do little research about yachting before they come, or turn a blind eye to any information that conflicts with their idea that everything is going to be amazing, and easy, and quick.

That’s completely understandable – and I was one of those people once!! But I soon found out that the reality was somewhat different and it’s often these same starry-eyed people who get rapidly disheartened when they find that there are many hundreds of other people competing for the same roles. They feel increasingly dejected when people tell them ‘It’s tough this year, there’s no jobs around.’ By the way, people have been saying that every year since I joined the industry in 1998. It’s never been a walk in the park to get into yachting— and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

By the time a starry eyed person sees the fourth crew agent in a row who says ‘I’ll put your CV on file, but you really need to get some daywork before I can place you,’ they start to feel pretty gloomy about their chances and panic and negativity begins to creep in.

This is not just a bad thing because it’s unpleasant to feel that way; the fact is, negative people rarely get hired in yachting. Positive, realistic people do. Which means you need to prepare for hearing bad news, and factor it into your battle-plan for success. It’s your reaction that will define your experience in Antibes, and it’s your reaction to the ups and downs of job-hunting that will define how others see you. Therefore, you need to prepare for those ups and downs.

So when a crew agent tells you that you need daywork on your CV, just smile and say, ‘Absolutely, I knew that was the case— I just wanted to meet with you and get to know you so when I get some experience you might be able to place me.’ After seeing a bunch of disappointed faces all day, the crew agent will really appreciate someone who just takes this information in their stride. And for you, the sting is taken out of it because you knew it was likely to happen anyway.

There are plenty of ways to avoid the negativity spiral that sometimes hits the crew house when there’s a lull and people are not getting hired. Apart from all your dockwalking, crew agent and job hunting efforts you can also go for a walk, take a trip to the mountains on the weekend, or ride the train along the Riviera, learning the names of the ports and getting to know the local area. Have some fun. Try to make friends with existing crew to learn about yachting and find out about opportunities—but don’t talk their ear off about the trials and tribulations of job-hunting. If you find yourself complaining about your situation, take a deep breath and laugh it off.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself here on a minimum budget – and it’s really important not to spend all your money in the first two weeks. Arrive with at least enough for two months, and give yourself the freedom to look for work without financial stress.

And now for the good news. 2016 is shaping up to be a great charter season. 2015 was the busiest charter season since before the financial crisis hit in 2007, and with Easter falling so early this year a lot of yachts are going on the water earlier than usual. All this early-season activity is great news for jobseekers like you.

As for that person you met who had such a terrible time in Antibes and didn’t find a job? Well, they might have just been unlucky. That can happen. Much more likely, however, is that they didn’t prepare properly and fell victim to negativity, or ran out of money because their expectations weren’t based in reality. Make sure you come to my free talk when you arrive and you’ll get a lot of invaluable information to help fast-track your entry to the yachting industry. Click HERE for more information.

If you want to succeed in yachting, don’t be an unprepared dreamer. Be a positive, resilient realist instead. You can only be truly positive— in a meaningful way— if you are prepared. Otherwise, you’re just dreaming and wishing.

Good luck! It’s a great year to get into yachting—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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Alison Rentoul

Alison Rentoul

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