“Quite often, both now and in the past, new crew have come to us saying that agencies have told them to take their qualifications off their CV as this may put on-board hiring managers off,” expresses Louise Cailbourdin, crewing manager at The Crew Network. “I always suggest they put the information back on again, for various reasons,” Cailbourdin continues. “It’s the truth and avoids having a red-flag provoked question – ‘What have you been doing for three or four years’?; it’s an achievement and shows academic competency and an ability to stick at something for a number of years; it may well be related to the job at hand – an MBA, degrees in marine biology, hospitality management, sports management, a sports teacher, performing arts and so on; and it could be an interesting topic for discussion in an interview.”
“It always depends on what the qualifications are,” adds Mark Jaenicke, recruitment and HR director at Viking Recruitment. “Yes, as a recruiter we want to know how good someone is academically, but it won’t be the decision maker to whether you consider them or not,” he continues. “However, it will show what type of person they are, if they did well at school, college or university. It can show if they are a motivated person and a hard worker. So in the overall package of a person’s CV it can definitely help them towards gaining a job.”
The captains The Crew Report spoke to were very much in favour of including as much information as possible on a CV, under the reasoning that a qualification is likely to show a relevant skill. “It allows potential employers to see that you have the ability to complete challenging commitments. A degree also gives you a wider background for conversation and in some cases will allow the captain or owner to get a better picture of your personality since our jobs involve a much more intimate experience than most,” says Captain Stephen Bradley, while the captain of a 70m+ motoryacht adds: “Higher academic awards are very interesting to see on the CVs. All these things help us understand as much as possible about the candidate before interview or a trial period and incurring the often significant cost and training resources of bringing on a new crewmember. All education and experience have some form of relevancy to the positions we are hiring. We are in favour of more information than less.”
"It can be hard to convince individuals new to the industry that their hard-won degree should not be the first thing that an employer should see."
UK-based crew training provider UKSA works with Plymouth University and Falmouth Marine School to offer its cadets a Foundation degree that runs alongside its cadetship programme, but Emma Baggett, UKSA’s industry and cadetship manager, believes when it comes to including an individual’s higher education qualifications it can be a double-edged sword. “I have known vessels that have actually requested degree-educated candidates as the captain wanted ‘intelligent conversation around the dinner table’, however it really depends what people read into your qualifications and how literally they take them. It could be said that if you have just spent three years at university and completed a degree you show commitment and work ethic; or equally that you have spent it drinking beer and watching television every afternoon.” Baggett does generally advise that these sorts of qualifications are mentioned on a CV, however, “but not until the second page”, though candidates can find this difficult to understand. “It can be hard to convince individuals new to the industry that their hard-won degree should not be the first thing that an employer should see and instead relevant qualifications, experience and evidence of their character and work ethic would be more effective in gaining them employment. It is a very simple principle that underlines this, though,” concludes Baggett. “You write the right CV for the job you are seeking.”
Join our debate on whether crew should include academic qualifications on their CV here.