If you’ve been fired from your last superyacht job, do not despair. A successful career is totally salvageable in many situations. Here are a few suggestions to navigate those dark waters and comeback after the gangway walk from hell….
Crew get fired from their superyacht job all the time and there is always the assumption that this is a massive black mark against their name and their career has been dealt a huge blow. Whilst it isn’t ideal, it doesn’t have to be completely disastrous.
Of course, the more senior you are on board, then the more likely it is this will be a problem. People are less likely to be forgiving if it is the Captain or HOD who has committed a grave error.
For other crew, take encouragement from the fact that 90% of crew agencies and a big chunk of yachts won’t bother picking up the phone and verbally reference checking you (unlike us). Most will, at best, send some automated email asking a few generic questions. Generally, your Captain or HOD won’t put anything in writing which might come back to bite them in the arse.
But let’s assume for the moment that agencies are becoming more professional and that eventually, the whole industry will be following best practice and carrying out proper due diligence on all candidates they put forward.
How can you minimise the fallout?
As uncomfortable as it may be, I recommend you speak to your Captain and HOD in the first instance and ask for some honest feedback. If they have been clear about why you have been fired from your superyacht job, then ask them if there is anything else you need to improve on your next yacht? Did they have other question marks against you?
If it feels appropriate, follow up with an apology, thanking them for the experience and asking if they will provide a reference in the future if asked.
Secondly, be completely honest with any crew agency you are using to help you find your next superyacht job. If they know the score and they verbally reference, they can say this upfront to your Captain or HOD who will respect you for being transparent and hopefully provide some neutral or positive feedback in other areas or whether they think you have the potential.
In quite a few scenarios, crew can be fired from a superyacht job through no or little fault of their own. It can be as superficial as the owner doesn’t like your face, an old crew member is coming back, the Captain is terrible and fires everyone, the boat needs to cut costs or you don’t have a visa.
The advice, however, remains the same. Try and leave on good terms and whatever you do, don’t start publicly slagging off the boat or the Captain. The superyacht sector is very small and word travels fast. Discretion is a personality trait a lot of yachts look for in their crew, so if you’re known for shouting your mouth off, no matter how justified it is, it will not look good.
Why did you get fired from your superyacht job?
A huge caveat to all of the above is what did you actually get fired for? Some offences should mean you never get a job again on a boat. Sadly, I could give you dozens of examples of crew who have made huge screw ups and then been employed again shortly afterwards. On the positive side, some of those definitely improved afterwards.
If it’s a one-off incident then your reference will probably reflect this. Admit you made a mistake, learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you’ve consistently performed poorly or behaved badly despite guidance and clarification on what is expected of you, then maybe you are the problem and not the Captain, HOD or yacht.
Perhaps you are just a bit of a cr*p deckhand / stew and you aren’t suited to yachting. If that’s the case, then you need to take some time and reflect on your behaviour and what you have done wrong. Could you have improved or tried harder?
Or was it your negative attitude which was the big problem? If you are naturally a bit of an arrogant idiot who doesn’t take instruction well, is moody, rubs people up the wrong way etc, then that doesn’t instantly change on another boat. That’s part of your personality and takes a lot of effort, time and self-reflection to change. If this sounds like you, I would suggest leaving yachting, at least for a few months to reassess yourself and your priorities and whether you can actually change and have a positive experience on a yacht. Sounds harsh, I know, but yachting has too many crew who have a poor attitude.
In my experience, alcohol massively impacts upon performance. If you are regularly nursing a hangover during work hours then that is something which will also affect your attitude and performance. An excellent step to take would be to try and reduce the hangovers. Every area of your life will improve if you cut down on the binges.
Can you be the come-back kid in yachting?
So you take a break, decide yachting is still for you and have turned over a new leaf. You’re ready to be the best crew member anyone has ever seen and want a new job.
Well, the bad news is you are no longer a super desirable employee. You could try going back to your former yacht and minimising the fall-out in the ways I described above.
If the jobs you are going for are on yachts who reference check and do their own due diligence, the truth will come out and you will no longer be in a position to dictate what you want. Your options have narrowed. Saying you are only interested in a 75m to 100m yacht offering at least €3500, a 3:1 rotation and an interesting itinerary is unrealistic.
Your main priority is finding a well-run, good yacht, which you can stay on for at least a year (as a junior, longer if senior) to get past your current situation.
The good news is that you might get a dream job on a good yacht and get away with it. And at this moment in time, yachts will be far more forgiving than they would have been previously due to a huge shortage of crew – but only if you OWN your mistakes.
If you are a Captain or HOD reading this and wondering how you can catch crew out when they lie and warning signs to look for, I’m working on it…