Finding a job on a yacht can come from any source: dockwalking, yacht job apps (Crew Compass), friends, or crew agents. We chatted with Michelle Niles from Salt Placement, an experienced yacht crew agent, about top tips when it comes to getting hired. Read on for some helpful insights!
Crew Compass: What makes Salt Placement different from other crew agents?
Salt Placement: . I can tell you as former yacht crew myself, I saw a huge disconnect between yacht crew and crew agents. When I was green crew I didn’t feel the crew agents would even talk to me regardless of me having an extensive hospitality background. When I was a chief stew working with the agents, I didn’t feel that they really understood that I was LIVING with these people, and instead I just received cvs with no screening. So my intention in creating Salt Placement was to be an asset to the yachting community by mentoring & recruiting the diamonds in the rough that may get overlooked due to lack of presentation or poor communication. It is our intention to mentor & educate our crew so that they have the tools to become the best they can be. Honestly, at this point I don’t feel I am even in competition with other crew agents there are plenty of boats and plenty of jobs and we just stick to our intentions. We try to be as personal & compassionate as we can.. and although we don’t get tons of jobs for green crew We never turn them away either
Crew Compass: When are the best months for yacht crew to find a job?
Salt Placement: If you are experienced crew you shouldn’t ever have a problem finding work. There are different times that are best depending on your skillset.
Green & entry-level crew would do best to find DAYWORK during US/Florida yard periods in October, when all the boats are back in port & there are lots of small jobs. It’s a great way to build connections and your CV!
Full-time work for entry-level crew is best around April especially if they can get the words “The Med” & “Charter” out of their heads… October/November is also a great time for deckhands & engineers as the yard periods are really their chance to shine.
Slowest months for work (in the US) are January. July/Aug is prime time if you are a stew.. especially a US stew (since so many tax savings for US flag vessels started, and they only hire American crew). Captains positions have been on the slower side, and I compare it to teachers that get tenure: the good ones aren’t gonna move, but during periods when deliveries are highest (beginning/end season) our captains shine!
Crew Compass: What makes certain crew stand out among the rest?
Salt Placement: What a great question. In my experience, great crew stands out because:
- A clean cv. The fancy ones are nice but what most captains are looking for is easy to read & well organized. Believe it or not, the “objective” section is the most important. I have seen excellent candidates get thrown in the bin because their objective didn’t match the position they were applying for
- A cover letter. Crew that just forward their cv make me feel they are just going through the motions. I appreciate crew that takes the time to say hello & tells me what they are needing from us. We are all about personalities in this biz!
- Good follow-up. I appreciate crew that follows up without being pushy. There is a big difference & a fine line between following up & harassing a potential employer. A soft sell is a skill and I feel people who are able to show their most authentic selves without “trying” too hard make the best yacht crew.
Crew Compass: Do you think a candidate with a lot of transferable skills (high-end service, boat driving, fishing), but not a lot of superyacht experience has a shot?
Salt Placement: Yes!! The industry needs new talent! Let’s face it, we have incredible skills in this industry but most of us burnout and need long holidays to recuperate. There is always room in this industry for hardworking dedicated yacht crew. How can they get into the yachting industry? It DOES take hard work & dedication and I think that’s a good thing. Breaking into yachting can be grueling and give you a sense of defeat when everyone is telling you “you need experience” and no one will give you that experience. But there is something about the process that is also endearing when you walk through the threshold of that first gig and you realize… “I did it!” Working on a yacht is a very “privileged” experience and it should be hard to get into – it’s how we see who actually has what it takes! It’s a grueling & beautiful experience that must be balanced by each individual – there is no secret to it. Just hard work, perseverance, knowing your clear intentions and a little bit of Lady Luck.
Crew Compass: Are captains asking for different types of candidates now – specialty skills, people with computer skills, etc? (Or have they remained the same?)
Salt Placement: Every boat program is like a snowflake: each one is similar but different in their own ways. Specialty skills are there to help you stand out in the pack. ANY skill is an asset whether it be accounting, management, sewing or PADI certs you can never go wrong by learning more skills. My advice is to keep learning and bettering yourself, because you just never know when those skills will open doors for you!
Crew Compass: Finally, what’s the #1 advice you would give to yacht crew?
Salt Placement: To treat yachting as a professional career. You may not intend to do it for life, but the safety of our guests and crew is why we are there and that should be taken more seriously! Work hard, then play hard, but do not mix the two. Remember yachting is a small industry, always know your intentions, work hard, keep learning and be a nice person.
We appreciate your helpful advice, Michelle! To find out more about Salt Placement, check them out at the links below and on our crew jobs app!