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How much does length of service matter in Superyacht Recruitment?

Tim Clarke
April 1, 2021

In this blog, Tim Clarke, debates whether longevity of service in superyacht recruitment is always a good thing.

Time spent on one yacht isn’t always a good thing

I have written at length, on multiple occasions about how I think longevity is the most desirable trait to look for in a CV. I absolutely still stand by this, certainly as the first thing I’m looking for anyway.

But is there another side to the story?

Why can longevity of service sometimes be a negative?

I think it’s definitely possible for a crew member to get stale. They get so comfortable in a role that their standards drop. Especially if it isn’t a demanding boat in terms of workload. Their desire to improve diminishes and they are happy to only work at 50% of their capability. If a crew member has been working for 5 years in that sort of environment it is very hard to adapt and change when they leave.

I’ve often heard from Captains ‘everyone has a yacht which is for them’. Normally a Captain says that in the context of I wouldn’t hire them again but they would be good for someone. Expanding upon that, some crew have personalities which mean they aren’t to everyone’s taste but all yachts are run differently, have different requirements, standards and cultures on board which means sometimes people do fit in on this particular yacht. Or probably more accurately are tolerated. But that also means they don’t work out elsewhere. If someone has 3 years on their last yacht but all of their other jobs have been short stints, I would definitely call those other references too.

Great for morale but not much else…

Sometimes crew aren’t much good at their job. But they have a great personality so they are kept on board. Everyone likes them including their Captain, HOD and the yacht owner. So despite being poor at their job they remain employed. After 4 years on deck they have been passed over several times for Lead Deck and the Bosun role on board because they aren’t up to it. So they leave and promptly get a job on another yacht as a bosun and it’s a car crash. If someone has been on a yacht a really long time without being promoted I would definitely question their ability level and find out more.

Comfortable in the role

Occasionally this can signal a lack of ambition. The crew member is comfortable earning £x amount every month and has no desire to get more qualified and improve themselves. That is absolutely fine. Not everyone on board can be a dynamic go-getter who wants to rocket up the career ladder as quickly as possible. Every crew needs people who are more slow and steady types. But it is something to be aware of depending what position you are recruiting for and what you want from that crew member.

Being flexible is an important attribute to have on a superyacht

If a crew member has only worked on one yacht before they often have only learnt one way of doing something and may be fixed in their ways. If employing a Chief Officer for example who has risen from Junior Deckhand to Chief on board that is something I would question. Of course they could have worked under 4 different Chiefs during that time all of whom did things differently. Or it could have been a yacht where nothing changes ever. Their ability to adapt may be more limited than others. Plus no-one likes hearing ‘on yacht x we always did it like this….’. Everyone gets bored of hearing that really quickly.

Boss's fave….

There are plenty of yachts out there which have crew on board who have great relationships with the yacht owner and their family. Unfortunately on some yachts this makes them completely unsackable. And they know it and rule the roost doing what they want. Not all of them. Some are still great crew members. But others take full advantage of the situation and cause issues all over the place. Sometimes these yachts get sold and the owner’s favourite has to look for another job. Often they have been overpaid and over indulged so they aren’t a great option for another yacht.

So that sounds like a lot of negatives. It really isn’t. I’m probably playing devils’ advocate a little too. I would say 80% or 90% of the time crew with excellent longevity are really good crew members. But the situations above are just things to be aware of when recruiting.

The Quay Crew guide to interviewing

As industry experts in superyacht recruitment, we’ve seen it all. If you want to learn more about how to interview crew please send me an email at tim@quaycrew.com and I will send you my guide to interviewing.

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