Q: Greg, Deckhand, 26:
“I recently caught up with some friends who I did my STCW with years back, and realised they’ve all progressed much further up the yachting career ladder than me. After nearly four years, I’m still a Deckhand, whereas all the guys in our group are all Bosuns, second Engineers, or first officers already. I do love my job- I’ve been on the same boat the whole time, but I think maybe I’ve let things slide a bit. I don’t really ever plan things, so I’d like some advice on how to move my career forward in 2017.”
A: The Crew Coach:
It can be so easy to get comfortable in a job that isn’t really moving us forward in our careers, so it’s great that you had this little wake-up call. There are lots of things you can do to kick-start your career in 2017, starting with some solid goal-setting.
- Figure out what it is you want for this year. Do you want to move up to Bosun? Or does Engineering take your fancy? Would you prefer to work on a sailboat? What skills will you need to do that? How do you plan to get them? Have you got other complementary goals this year, such as getting fit, or learning another skill or language which might increase your employability?
- Write your goals for the year down. Writing goals down has been proven to make it more likely you will reach them. Do not pick more than three main goals for the year. Studies have shown that if you pick one to three goals, you have a good chance of reaching all of them. However, if you pick 6 goals, your chances drop to reaching one, and if you establish 10 or more goals for yourself, you become statistically unlikely to reach even one of them. By splitting your attention over too many areas, you sabotage your chances of success.
- Break your goal down into small parts, with regular rewards. Human motivation is generally short-term, so create a plan with small wins and rewards scheduled in along the way. This will give you momentum to continue.
- Be on the constant lookout for learning opportunities to build your skills. Ask your superiors questions, enrol in training, or even shadow the Engineer for a day or two.
- Figure out what might be holding you back. Assess why you think you haven’t been promoted already. Is it because hasn’t been an opportunity to move up, or is there something more? You admit that you’re not much of a planner, so perhaps the Captain doesn’t see you as either keen enough, or responsible enough? It might be worth asking the Captain or Chief Officer for a performance review so you can find out where you might need to improve.
- Tell the Captain or your Chief Officer your goal so they can help you move towards it. If there is no room for advancement on your particular yacht, then you’ll need to confidentially start contacting crew agents to plan your next move. If there’s no way for you to move up in the foreseeable future, your current Captain should understand that you want to move on, so as long as you make sure you leave at a convenient time for the yacht, you should have every chance of receiving a friendly handshake and a great reference to see you through to the next chapter.
- Revamp your resume. Even if you’re hoping to be promoted on your current yacht, you should always have a professional and up-to-date CV which clearly reflects your skills and competencies. If you’ve been on one yacht four years and haven’t updated your resume since you joined the yachting industry, you have some work to do! You’ll be ready to submit the resume at a minute’s notice, but perhaps even more importantly, this exercise lets you look at how far you’ve come, while also revealing certain skills gaps you have. (Our Pro CV Turnaround team can assist with this if you really want to equip yourself with the strongest possible chances of success.)
With a strong CV, your great longevity and some newfound skills or certificates, you should be an extremely attractive candidate in 2017. Best of luck and let me know how you get on!