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I'm too busy!

Tim Clarke
July 12, 2020

The below is a summary of a scenario which plays out fairly regularly in yachting. I have got permission from the Captain involved to share this tale.

Hopefully a few people find it interesting and maybe a little educational. 

Recently a Captain called QC for help with a senior HOD role as he urgently needed someone to start as soon as possible. All perfectly normal. I went through the usual questions and it emerged the Captain was hugely under the pump and had been for weeks with various looming deadlines. He had access to social media and a yachting job board to advertise this position, which he used and because it was a really juicy role offering rotation and a good salary, on a good size yacht, he had a phenomenal response. So far so good.

He took his time as he had around 5 weeks to fill the role and made a fairly substantial shortlist so started working his way through interviewing them. Quite a few candidates interviewed very well so had a 2nd interview with the other Captain on board. Unfortunately, the problems arose from there on in. 

The first candidate who was going to be offered the role turned out to have some very questionable references so was scratched off the list which was disappointing as both Captains loved him. He is a textbook example of someone who looked great on paper, presented very well but was a nightmare waiting to happen. Thankfully the yacht did some due diligence, or they would have had a big problem. The second candidate was offered the role and after procrastinating for a couple of days turned it down as it wasn’t what he ideally wanted. The 3rd choice candidate had accepted another job whilst all of this unfolded. That was then the client got concerned about the time frames involved and reached out to Quay Crew. 

So, the purpose of telling you all this? I thought it was an excellent example of a situation where a yacht could / should have used a good crew agency from day one but for a few reasons didn’t. Please note my very deliberate use of the word good…. 

So, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet all of those issues could have been avoided if the yacht had contacted us from the start. I knew both candidate 1 and 2 and wouldn’t have sent them to the yacht for the following reasons. Candidate 1 was very poor despite looking and sounding great and candidate 2 was a high risk of saying no as he wanted something different. Candidate 3 I would have sent, and he would have been available to accept in the quicker time frame taken. If you have a good budget on board which can be used on a decent crew agency, sometimes it can be very beneficial. Plus, and this is key [Quay?!?] as a busy Captain sometimes you just don’t have the time to do the hard yards to recruit the right candidate and to do all of your due diligence. There are more important things for you to be doing than sifting through 200 CVs, a significant % of whom aren’t relevant, available, qualified, suitable, good or a combination of the above! Why take the risk of hiring the wrong person for a fee which is a tiny, tiny % of the annual budget? 

I understand there are significant levels of mistrust regarding crew agencies within the industry, and some of it is fully deserved. But a good crew consultant, who specialises in one sector e.g. Officers, Senior Interior, Engineering etc should know their marketplace very well and have in depth knowledge of the vast majority of the candidates who are available. They should also have a selection of great options who aren’t on the general market who are interested in those exceptional roles which are out there. They will save you time, but more importantly will help you avoid the bad candidates who are all too common in the marketplace. 

The end results...

We found the yacht a great candidate and despite some time pressures and issues with flights he managed to get to the yacht just about ahead of schedule before the owner got on. So, all is well that ends well. But there were many fraught moments for the Captain as the clock ticked down, there was a real lack of handover with the departing HOD and the yacht could easily have ended up with the wrong candidate for the job who would have walked or been sacked a few months down the line which would have been a massive pain for everyone involved. Plus, would have incurred significant additional costs. 

The Captain chose not to go to an agency because he felt it was a great job [it was] and he could fill it easily. Additionally, he wanted to save his boss the agency fee, and he didn’t want his inbox to be clogged up with random CVs that weren’t appropriate. He was a Captain who historically would go to multiple agencies as that was how things were always done. All completely understandable. Luckily, we were the 1st agency he spoke to and I persuaded him it was not only completely unnecessary but detrimental to his recruitment efforts to use 3 agencies. Hopefully he would agree with me now. I’m also hopeful this example goes some way to demonstrating the value of working with an agency who knows their market and can demonstrate their expertise. 

This can be a slightly controversial subject so I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this. I would especially love to hear Captains thoughts on what % of the annual budget is spent on crew agency fees and recruitment in general. Is 1 month’s salary a fair fee? 

You can find me on LinkedIn, or email me tim@quaycrew.com

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