Q: Dan, Junior Engineer, 24:
“I’ve only been job hunting for a short time and had a few interviews already, and things are looking pretty good for one of these, so I’ve started turning down interviews. Someone told me I’m being stupid to turn down any interviews until I have a signed contract, but I feel it’s wrong going to interviews for yachts I’m already pretty sure I don’t want to work on, especially as it looks like I’ve already got a job in the bag. Isn’t that wasting everyone’s time? What’s the right thing to do?”
A: The Crew Coach:
I can understand your confusion about this, and I’m sure you’re not the first person to have this question – but your friend is right: you should keep your options open. In fact, I’d advise keeping them open right up until a job contract is signed.
Why? Everything can change in an instant. The job may evaporate: the captain might choose someone else, or the yacht decides to delay the hiring decision. It happens all the time, and all of a sudden the season has started and you’re left without a job because you put all your eggs in one basket and turned down all the other opportunities that were coming your way.
Besides, even if you have job offers falling like rain (lucky you), how do you know that the job you didn’t bother to go for isn’t your perfect yacht? Each yacht is different: in culture, itinerary and everything else that goes with the package, and you need to find out everything you can before you make a decision. When it comes to job hunting, there’s no such thing as having too much choice.
Like you, a lot of people struggle with continuing to look for jobs once they think they have one ‘in the bag’. This is partly because the job hunt can be quite draining and it’s nice to stop, but also because they might feel ‘dishonest’ by looking for jobs and wasting others’ time when they already have one almost certainly lined up. But you have to keep your options open or you are doing yourself a disservice.
Having said this, it’s important to know how to manage the expectations of others. Tell the crew agents that while your interviews so far have been promising, you’d like to make sure you’re not left in the cold if the job falls through. They’re recruitment professionals, they will understand.
The key is to behave respectfully: keep everyone aware that you are considering several options, so that they know to also consider other candidates. Captains and crew agents can also become understandably frustrated if you tell them you will accept a position, only to find out you’ve accepted something else when they actually do offer it to you.
When a job is looking fairly likely, you can say to the Captain that you really want the position, but will have to protect your best interests by continuing to interview until a formal offer is made. This has the added benefit of sharpening up their keenness, too!
It’s good that you don’t want to waste people’s time; it shows you value others. You don’t need to take it to extremes and apply for small sailing boats if you want to work on a 100m motoryacht, but keep as many options open as possible. Remember, the job-hunting process gets you meeting people, honing your interview skills and learning about the industry, so it’s never a wasted exercise.