Whilst crew recruitment agencies do get access to Superyacht Captain jobs, the vast majority of these roles are not those dream jobs with rotation on Dutch and German builds and paying a fortune.
Me aside (because of course all my Captain roles are wonderful ha ha), Captain jobs with crew agencies are usually on smaller yachts which don’t have a management company attached to them. Of course, as always, there are anomalies to this and I know other agencies have had some fantastic Captain roles on previously. But by and large the fantastic ones are filled in-house.
The Captain recruitment market is also very different to that of other crew members. Despite the seniority of the role, it’s also very different to how a CEO or MD would be recruited in the corporate world even though there are many similarities in terms of rank and responsibilities etc.
For this reason, registering with a crew agency should probably be lower down on any to do list of a Captain looking for their next role. Certainly compared to some of the suggestions below.
Mingle with the management
As a Captain, you are in a uniquely precarious position. You have to keep the owner happy, the owner’s rep and sometimes the management company. Upset any of those three and you could be in a very uncomfortable situation. Especially if those three aren’t all aligned in their vision for the yacht. Things can change in an instant and you can find yourself unemployed with a hefty mortgage, expensive cars and private schools to pay for, which can be a very scary place to be. So I would treat networking as part of your job description as things can change in an instant.
The vast majority of Captain jobs come via management companies and brokers. The moral of this story is that you absolutely have to cultivate relationships with yacht management companies and brokers, even if you don’t have any of these relationships right now.
Without these relationships in place, the search for your next opportunity will potentially be frustrating and you won’t get access to the majority of openings, certainly not the really juicy ones.
So how do we do this? Well you need to get your CV in front of all the yacht managers and brokers you know without being an irritant who emails every few days with a slightly tweaked CV.
One Yacht Manager at a management company having your CV isn’t enough. With many management companies, the left hand doesn’t speak to the right hand when it concerns Captain recruitment. Just because Yacht Manager X thinks you are amazing, he probably won’t tell Yacht Manager Y who sits right next to him. And he definitely won’t tell Yacht Manager Z in the London / Monaco / Ft. Lauderdale office!
Again, you will need to try and build these relationships via email, phone and face to face meetings. It isn’t easy and when you are unemployed you are just one of dozens of Captains sending over their CV from firstname.lastname@example.org . Big hint here….. it’s much easier to build relationships when you are employed and you have a Captain@ email address.
If you are on a purely private yacht and don’t have a management company then this can also be a very isolating place. I have spoken to many great Captains over the years who have been in the situation I just mentioned. They have finished great stints on good yachts and then realised they don’t have any relationships with anyone of any influence. If this sounds like you, then build a plan of action which means you start to develop these relationships.
How to cultivate relationships
In an ideal world you would try and encourage the yacht owner to either charter or get a management company involved. Obviously those options aren’t always applicable so you need to put yourself out there a bit.
Attend events, try and find out about Captain drinks and dinners, make sure you stay in touch with all your old friends and peers in the sector. Don’t be that person no one hears from for five years and then pops up saying ‘hi’ in your first message with your CV attached in the next. Relationships thrive when you cultivate them and put some effort in.
As soon as a Captain role goes up on a job board then you are competing with hundreds of other applicants. The vast majority won’t even have their CV opened. When I have rotational Captain jobs on decent sized yachts I could have over 400 applications. Unfortunately, there is zero chance everyone gets looked at. In fact, it’s probably 10% to 25% depending on the number of applications and the role.
Instead I, like anyone who is looking for a Captain (owners and management companies included), will reach out to my immediate network first. Sometimes I don’t even advertise the role. As soon as I hear about an opportunity, I often know who would be the perfect fit, which is why I’m fortunate enough to be placing great Captains with great yachts.
So even if you aren’t looking for your next role currently, you never know when you might be and it’s never too early to be cultivating relationships and staying in touch with people now.
Being a great Captain isn’t essential. Having a good network you have cultivated personal relationships with is.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you wish to discuss this with me you are welcome to give me a call.