How to find a yacht job: Navigating the marine-recruitment minefield

With thanks to YPI Crew

"It takes a special kind of person to work on any kind of boat, whether it’s a yacht or a commercial ship – sharing cabins, extended periods of time at sea, close quarters, different personalities, long working hours etc. However, yachting does have its benefits that few will find in any other industry...

Yacht crew shoes

"Good money - possibly exempt from taxes, medical and dental cover, travel expenses covered, and the fact that you are living on one of the largest private ships travelling around the world at no expense, gaining experiences that could not be achieved any other way without being extremely wealthy", explained Brad Yeadon, founder of Seafarers CV.

To work on a superyacht is a dream for many, and with the industry going from strength to strength, now is the perfect time to get that first job on board. However, with such high competition, getting there may not be as simple as first seems, however there are people who can help! Yachting Pages lists the ways and means to find those elusive yacht jobs.

How to find yacht jobs

For those entering into the yachting industry for the first time, it may seem difficult to even know where to begin looking for a yacht job to apply for, let alone getting your foot in the door.

Here we cover the four main ways to find a job as yacht crew aboard a superyacht:

1. Yacht crew agencies

Unfortunately, you won’t find a yacht job listed at your local recruitment agency. Instead you’ll need to enroll to a yacht crew agency – the ‘recruitment agents’ of the marine industry, and dedicated specialists in yacht/marine recruitment. 

By enrolling with a recognised crew agent, you’ll be able to access the industry’s current yacht jobs, and get your CV in front of hiring captains. A good agent will help you to understand your relevant skills and match you to your perfect position on board; they’ll assess your suitability for each role, get you in front of captains, champion your skills, and motivate you through the process. Most importantly, they should be realistic and honest with you at all times, positioning you for the right job on the right yacht.

Although the temptation may be to sign on with as many agents as possible, Laurence Lewis of YPI Crew advised that it’s often best to enrol with only one or two different agents at a time. She said, “Whilst crew agencies do most of the groundwork and provide captains with shortlists, using more than two crew agencies, three at maximum can be counterproductive for both captains and candidates.” 

To get the most from your crew agency we recommend: 

Making a face-to-face appointment: When enrolling with a crew agent, be sure to drop in or fly over to meet your agent in person. This not only makes you more memorable, but shows that you are ready and willing to find work in the industry. It is for this reason that it’s best to make the move to your chosen hiring port ahead of your activities to find work in the industry.

Keeping in touch: Crew agents often shortlist candidates on behalf of the captains on their books, therefore, after enrolling and submitting your CV, make sure to check in with your agent regularly – perhaps once or twice a week – to make sure your name remains at the top of the pile and the forefront of their mind for each and every relevant job that comes in. 

Getting certified: A crew agent can advise on the qualification(s) that are required for your job search, and also those additional courses that will be beneficial, helping you to stand out from the competition. All crew working at sea must hold an ENG1 Medical Certificate or equivalent, and those who wish to work aboard a superyacht (24 metres and above) must also be SCTW certified. Depending on the role you’re looking for, more mandatory training may also be required or additional courses beneficial. 

walk the dock

Preparation: Having the right visa’s and documentation can be the make or break in getting that job aboard a superyacht. Your crew agent will go through the visa’s and paperwork you’ll need to get on board. The most common requirements usually include the B1 visa for working on U.S flagged yachts and/or in U.S waters, and a Schengen Visa for crewing a yacht cruising in the Schengen States, which are made up of 26 European countries.

2. Online crew agents and social media

As with many industries, yacht job opportunities are now easily found online. As such, there are many crew agencies that now work solely online.

Although we would recommend any first-time yachtie pick up and move to their chosen hiring port to work with an agent face to face, it’s also a good idea to submit your CV to an online crew agent or crew job site and regularly check reputable websites/apps for jobs in your location. Just bear in mind, these efforts don't always give you the same service and benefits as using an established crew agent.

By all means, check Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for yacht jobs, but remember captains will be looking for reliable and dedicated workers, not just friends of friends. You’ll therefore need to ensure that you have all your training and paperwork in order before getting any success with an online agent. 

Brad Yeadon of Seafarers CV explained, "The Internet has changed industries year after year since its inception, and history has proven over and over again that businesses need to adapt in order to continue to grow and sustain. 

“While it may be easier today then ever before for captains, chief engineers and chief stewardesses to simply post a job on Facebook to friends, it does not eliminate the need for a crew agency. Hiring crew is not about hiring friends of friends, it's about creating the best possible team to work on board a ship and in many cases diversity among crew will have a better effect than groups of close friends."

3. Walk the docks

Alternative and additional to using a crew agent, is dock walking. ‘Walking the docks’ is one of the key ways to find work on a superyacht - especially if it's your first yacht job. This involves trying to engage with the yacht’s current crew as they work to find out if they know of any current or future jobs available on board. It may sound simple, but there are a few important points to remember:

First impressions: First impressions count - ensure you make a good one. Dress in a professional manner; wear a white polo, navy, black or khaki shorts or skirt, and tidy boat shoes. 

Start early: Start walking the docks between 7:30 and 8:00am when crew start work. Crew will typically be working out on the deck until around 11:00am. After this time there will be less opportunity to see and engage with them.

Conversation: Visit each yacht and ask if they have a permanent vacancy or day work. Try and engage the crew in conversation, if they don’t have any jobs going on board, they might know someone who does! Make sure to thank them for their time – you never know, a job could become available on their yacht in the future. 

Presentation: Carry your CVs in a professional folder or wallet – no plastic bags! Keep paper wrinkle-free and presentable. A dog-eared CV with little relevant yachtie information is likely to go straight into the bin.

4. Networking

Don’t underestimate the power of networking. Socialising in crew houses and crew hangouts will often give you a heads up on who’s hiring and the best places to look for work. 

Michael Wilson of Yacht Crew also suggested attending the yachting industry’s many boat shows and events to make useful contacts, or potentially find a job. He said, "Attend boat shows and speak with the yacht’s crew and exhibiting agencies; let them know what you are looking for. Just don't forget to take copies of your CV and certificates with you!"

What's next?

Which position are you most suited to on board? Read yacht crew positions and contracts to find out more about the roles and responsibilities on a superyacht, or search for crew agents on to start your job search.

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