Guest blog post by Danielle Berclouw
When I left my Amsterdam flat to head out to sunny Mallorca in order to ‘seek my fortune on a super yacht’ all those 14(!) years ago I was armed with my Nokia phone the size and weight of a brick and a floppy disk(!) in case I’d need to print out some more CV’s..
In Palma I’d check my email in a smelly internet cafe and make my calls from a phone booth hoping whichever Captain I was speaking to would run out of questions before I’d run out of clinking coins.. Linked-in was little known, Facebook still far off from being invented and Tweeting still something only little birds did..
Now, of course I have a sleek and shiny MacBook air which weighs less than my phone did then, a teeny, tiny USB stick, an iPhone that can tell me where I am, what the weather’s like in ‘Wagga Wagga’ and what the meaning of the word ‘williwaw’ is.
Photo Credit: User:Jjborcean Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
I’m Wassaping, Skyping, Tweeting, Texting, Foursquaring and Facebooking all at the same time! I’m mostly on Facebook which is also how I often find work. Whereas before Facebook I’m not quite sure how I stalked my exes, remembered birthdays, bugged long lost friends or played rousing games of Farmville, I now also know exactly what my mates are up to (sipping posh cappuccino’s, getting drunk, doing something adventurous or ‘feeling awesome’. Equally you can let those friends know that you’re actually up to nothing as you’re desperately looking for a good job on a great boat and usually one of your 1475 friends will know someone that knows of something.
I’ve found myself a few times sitting cross legged on a creaky bed in a skanky crew house one minute and on a jumbo jet heading towards swanky St Barths the next, literally. The captain would be a mate of a mate, the word on the superyacht street would be the owners are lovely, the crew cool and the captain would have been assured through others that I’m no party girl and can prep and polish like no other..
One could start to wonder if Social Media could or even already has replaced the crew agent?
I’ve posed this question to a few people, one of them being Lars Molin, founder of no less than 4 yachtie-Facebook groups of which Palma Yacht Crew has a staggering 13000 followers. With this number it’s no wonder that Captains publish on this page as two days of day work posted online will have been snapped up in seconds by whoever is best suited and the most speedy to respond.
Group admin Lars comments: “I believe, the traditional hiring process through agents is under fire. Although from an employers point of view the benefits of using an agent are avoiding the risk of ending up with the ‘rotten apples’ and the headache of being flooded with spam caused by crew sites copying posts onto their own page. On the other side the use of social media leaves a Captain with significant savings and a larger pile of CVs to choose from.
For crew looking for work, Social Media sites are great, in particular for the greenhorns, whom are often disregarded by the crew agencies. Through Social they get a chance to promote themselves, and have the opportunity to apply directly to yachts looking for crew.
In addition to this, Facebook groups such as ‘Palma Yacht Crew’ allow crew to stay on top of the positions posted from the various agencies.
With the amount of agencies currently on the super yacht scene it has become “mission impossible” to check in and keep up with all of them on a regular basis. In this respect Social Media really helps people keep up with the present job market.”
When this particular topic was posted on PYC Y.D. rightly replied “that it all depends on how this tool is used”.
It’s great to scroll through yacht jobs posted online but at the same time Captains could be going through your personal posts and although might snigger at that pic you posted taken at a particularly drunken dock party where you’re holding a bottle of booze in one hand and a traffic cone in the other, it could also get your CV on the NO pile quicker than you can say: “One last espresso martini”.
PYC member G.G points out that this works two ways too as Social can also inform you who not to work for. The new and much discussed website where you can rate boats you’ve crewed on is a good example of this. Worked for Captain ‘Double standard’ of First Mate ‘Barks-a-lot’ you can now share it all in detail on the wonderful world wide web!
G.G. also comments that he completely agrees with what Lars says about green crew.“I was with all the agencies for more than 5 months and never received even one call. I don’t think Social Media will do away with crew agents but it might (hopefully!) make agencies a little more prepared to assist when it comes to us newbies”.
Personally in 14 years I have never used a crew agent, not even in those now inconceivable pre-Social times. The amount of time I’ve spent in yachtie bars drinking enough dry white’s to sink a super yacht may have been bad for my health but is how I usually landed a job. So sufficiently social, just minus the media. 😉 I’ve always found getting work through friends of friends much more favorable as it feels like you already know what you’re getting into.
I also know that there are agents out there who have never worked on a boat which to me sounds a little bonkers as knowing what it’s like to work onboard a boat through your own experiences is quite essential if you’re interviewing crew and trying to find this person the perfect match..
Ex-yachtie Jens Oomes, MD of Invisible Crew whose fresh and contemporary approach has seen his agency grow from strength to strength agrees that “If a crew agency today isn’t more than just a source of résumés, it will suffer from the direct competition of Social Media”. However he adds that “At Invisible Crew we use social media a lot to find candidates but when those CV’s come in, it’s only the start of the screening and selection process” which is where Invisible Crew’s innovative USP Profile comes in, a new tool which helps make a more precise and researched decision when hiring candidates.
“As the industry continues to grow and demand a higher level of professionalism it is quite worrying to see that professional recruiters are being by-passed by Social Media. At Invisible Crew we have a loyal client base who know exactly why they work with us, so we’ll be all right.” says Jens.
To conclude we could say that most agencies embrace the different Social Media platforms with sufficient success, and as Lars says “I don’t think we will see Social Media putting crew agents out of business despite them being under pressure.”
It’s just a question of how the recruiters and independent SM channels co-exist and indeed even benefit from each other. In any case these days being active on the different channels is really the only way to keep your finger on the pulse ensuring you to be the first to find out about that perfect job, and nobody would like to miss the boat now, would they?