How to job hunt after being fired

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Fired

Q: James, Deckhand, 22:

“I just got fired from my first yacht job after only 6 weeks. Apparently I ‘wasn’t right for the boat’, whatever that means. I didn’t do anything wrong and I’m not really sure why they let me go, I think it might just be that they are downsizing for the winter but they made it seem like it was my fault. It was quite difficult for me to get a job the first time – how much will it impact on my chances to get a new job? I have a bit of money from my salary, but if I’m just going to waste it all hanging around Antibes and no-one wants to hire me because I got fired then there doesn’t seem much point. How do I tell crew agents I got fired? I really don’t know what to do and I feel a bit like giving up on this whole yachting thing!”

A: The Crew Coach:

I’ll let you in on a little secret. A lot of people don’t work out on their first yacht job, but go on to have rewarding, successful yachting careers. There are a few reasons for this:

– Yachts are a huge adjustment for most people. It takes a little while to realise what is needed, and almost always a few mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes will cost you your job, and your second yacht job is an opportunity to use that tough lesson wisely.

– Yachts are such odd things. Each one is a floating society with its own culture and rules. Just because you didn’t fit with one doesn’t mean you won’t with the next!

– Some boats are known for being tough to work on, and crew agents do understand this. They will also know if the yacht has a reputation for letting people go like this.

Can I give you some tough love? It’s understandable that you’re a bit dejected after being fired from a job you really fought to get…but you need to turn this around. Everything worth having is worth fighting for! Almost everyone has been fired at some point in their lives, and it is genuinely character-building. The thing is, negativity tends to come through – even when you’re doing your best to hide it. Captains and crew agents can smell it a mile off and it won’t do much for your ‘brand attraction’. Without realising it, if you don’t turn this around you will really put people off with your dejected mindset and your resulting failure to move on from this will become a self fulfilling prophecy.

What can you do next?

A mature response to failure is a powerful thing. If you can figure out what you can learn from this and then move on with a positive attitude, you become the kind of mature and self-improving person captains like to hire.

1. Sit down and ask yourself a few tough questions. Did you work as hard as you possibly could? Did you try and get along with everybody and help others out? Or did you talk too much and listen too little in your haste to impress? Where do you think you might have gone wrong? Don’t beat yourself up, just look at any errors as a learning experience and promise yourself to improve on these going forward.

2. If you want to be brave and really learn from this situation, contact the captain that fired you and ask for genuine feedback. Believe me, the crew agents will be calling the captain and asking what happened, so it’s good to know the captain’s perspective so you can have your ducks in a row when you’re asked about it. It may well give that captain a newfound respect for you too which could positively influence what he has to say about you to crew agents or other captains when they call. If you feel he or she is unapproachable, perhaps you could talk to your ex Chief Officer instead.

3. When you do speak to crew agents about it, don’t be bitter or talk badly about your last boat. That will completely destroy your chances of a comeback. Focus on what you learnt and how much you want to improve. It’s ok to tell them the reason was you ‘weren’t right for the boat’ – it’s such a common thing in yachting that it won’t rule you out, and not being right for that boat might actually rule you ‘in’ for another boat.

One last thing. Chin up and hold your head high. You’re not the first person to be fired from a yacht job, far from it. People will be far less likely to think it really was your fault if you behave well and take this in your stride. If you really did do nothing wrong, you have nothing to feel bad or guilty about. It’s all a learning curve and you have gained valuable experience that will stand you in good stead as your career goes on. The way you react and bounce back from this will determine your future success – onwards and upwards!

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Alison Rentoul

Alison Rentoul

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