Q: Jacinta, 2nd Stew, 26:
“I recently had a bad experience during an interview – the Chief Stewardess interviewing me said I’d wasted her time when I told her at the end I wasn’t interested in the role. I didn’t think that was fair, as the job description had said next to nothing on it, so I had nothing to go on before the interview. (The job wasn’t through an agency so I couldn’t find out more beforehand.) It wasn’t until she explained more about the job that I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for me. Why don’t job descriptions for yachts go into any detail? I felt like telling her she’d actually wasted my time rather than the other way around!”
A: The Crew Coach:
This is a really interesting scenario, and one definitely worth thinking about for Captains and HOD’s submitting job ads at this time of year, whether you are using dedicated crew agents or the many Facebook pages and job websites to source your crew.
Considering we demand professional candidates that are well suited to our yacht’s individual culture and demands, it’s not surprising we sometimes fail to find the right candidates when our descriptions for yacht jobs often read something like this: ‘ 2nd stew wanted for 60m private yacht, Med-Caribbean, US 4000’. Or when a Captain calls a crew agent in a rush, saying only ‘I need a deckhand with a Yachtmaster, immediate start, thanks.’
How can you expect to get what you want when you don’t explain in detail what you’re really looking for? Granted, it’s OK to be this brief if the crew agent knows the Captain, other crew and owners well and can judge exactly which candidates to put forward. But that’s not always the case, and in the scenario where yachts are placing job ads directly on social media or other websites, the need for detailed job descriptions rises considerably. Apart from anything else, if you are not specific you will be inundated with unsuitable applicants, making it even more time consuming to go through them all.
If you are a Captain placing the ad, it’s really important to write it in collaboration with the relevant HOD. After all, they know the daily running of their department and have a closer understanding of the precise abilities required in the role they are trying to fill. They’ll also have a good gauge of what is missing from their team, skills and personality-wise, which they will be hoping to fill out by adding this new person.
As such, you need to include relevant details of what strengths and skills your ideal candidate will bring. Is it a busy watersports boat, do the guests do a lot of entertaining or is the boat private with elderly owners who don’t like to do very much? Does a stew need to be extremely talented at table decoration and or flower arranging? Or is your ideal hire for this particular vacancy someone who can tear through the cabins or the laundry at high speed while still doing a great job? There’s so much range in the tasks undertaken by a yacht team so it’s best to know in advance what you need them to be able to do. For engineering positions, include relevant machinery and systems, and deck crew also need to know which systems and equipment they’ll be required to use.
A great yacht job ad will mention the culture of the yacht, giving candidates the chance to self-select depending on whether they think they will be a fit or not. We all know that a young, fun sporty boat can feel very different from a more mature couples yacht and it’s worth letting people know which you are upfront. And don’t be afraid to mention if you’re a strictly run yacht: after all, best you weed out people who won’t fit that culture before you waste time interviewing them.
The rough annual itinerary is also important to include, but perhaps not for the reason candidates think! An exciting world-travelling itinerary attracts many candidates, but it’s worth pointing out that the yacht will be away from major yachting ports and perhaps be at anchor for extremely long periods as younger crew may not have considered this.
Avoid woolly expressions. For instance, if you’re looking for someone ‘experienced’, define how many seasons of experience you require, and exactly what you want them to be experienced in. Don’t worry that you might be getting too specific – people will still apply even if they are close to the spec without having absolutely everything you’re looking for – but it means you’ll be choosing from people who are much closer to your desired profile.
It may seem that this is quite a lot of effort to go to – after all, can’t you just explain all this in the interview? Well that depends on how much time you have to waste on interviews and sorting through piles of CVs. It will save you money, frustration and time in the long run to just put a bit more detail into explaining what you want in your job advertisements and you’ll find the calibre of candidates you have applying will dramatically improve too.
What do you think? Anything to add on writing job advertisements that draw the right applicants? Add your comments below!