After six years in the superyacht industry as a chief stewardess, Monique Dykstra identified a gap in the market for an improved service and selection process for placing candidates on yachts. As a result, she established Saltwater Recruitment, a bespoke crew placement service, specialising in the superyacht market.
Dykstra was part of the new build team of 107m expedition yacht Ulysses, and tasked with recruiting the interior team from scratch during the build. “It was here that I realised that there was a huge opportunity to improve the selection process for placing candidates in the industry.” It was this project in particular which is where the gap in the recruitment process was highlighted, and the idea for a more practical and efficient method for crew placement was created.
“We position ourselves as a boutique agency, which means we work with a smaller number of clients that we have aligned values on.” It’s important to Dykstra that Saltwater Recruitment doesn’t become a recruitment machine, with hundreds of jobs and even more CVs. The unique selling proposition here is that only a scalable number of clients will be dealt with, ensuring that strong relationships can be built with all those involved, in a similar vein to executive headhunting firms.
“The yachting industry is all about connections and it’s an industry where there is a very vague line between colleagues and friends – your crew become your family so naturally everyone is connected through Facebook.” As a result, it’s not surprising that Facebook has become an effective tool in recruitment. “There are community pages with over 20,000 crew registered, that are open to both crew and agencies to post on for free – five years ago this wasn’t possible.
“This is a tough industry to get your foot in the door and isn’t necessarily about what you know, but about who you know. My advice for new crew looking to get into yachting would be that connections to the industry - whether it be through friends, family and colleagues - are so valuable so best to utilise these.” From her experience, Dykstra says that in a lot of cases, yachts don’t pay agency fees for green crew, so it all comes down to recommendations and networking, which is where social media plays a big role.
Therefore, for new crew, the key is not spreading yourself too thinly across recruitment agencies. “This can actually hider your chances. Crew that are employing never like to get the same CV through two different agencies as they start to question why he/she hasn’t got a job yet.” The best thing that a candidate can do is find two to three agencies as a maximum.
Like any competitive marketplace, there are plenty of frustrations which accompany day-to-day business, but in superyacht recruitment, Dykstra feels there is a lack of service provided to clients and candidates in the sector. “I believe this comes down to the high [amount] of crew turnover and the fact that longevity in this industry is rather rare, plus there are always unemployed candidates to choose from.”
Although Saltwater Recruitment is a young company, Dykstra says that, within the next five years, she would like to see offices set up in New Zealand, the South of France and America. “The goal is to be the leading agency in the supply of highly skilled Australians and Kiwis to the yachting industry”, she says.