The superyacht industry is small and, as such, social media is an effective portal to connect with potential crew via friends and acquaintances, and widely used by captains and heads of departments when looking for new recruits. But the very nature of social media means that it can have both upsides and downsides as a recruitment tool.
Post a job offer on Facebook and it is guaranteed to get an immediate response, and in some cases a much bigger response than bargained for. “Social media is certainly an option if an owner or captain has the requisite time to sift through dozens of applications to shortlist, to organise interviews, to verify licences and to check references before making a job offer that may not be accepted – leading to a renewal of the hiring process,” says Louise Cailbourdin, crewing manager at The Crew Network.
“Busy owners and yacht captains rarely have the time to carry out recruitment procedures thoroughly. The attraction of social media is its immediacy, reach and cost effectiveness. It may be the only real solution for a low-budget vessel that suffers from high crew turnover and simply cannot afford recruitment fees.”
There is also the argument that putting a strong crew together is not only about the candidates’ skills; it’s also about their character strengths. Conveying this to an agent can sometimes be difficult: they might send through someone who is perfect on paper, but falls short when it comes to getting along with the rest of the crew and fitting in with the culture on board. However, finding someone by social media normally means that their personality and attitude can be verified by a trusted source.
The majority of captains will find that a lot of time is taken away from their actual job if they are doing the recruiting themselves. “We have noticed that the problem with social media is that news of a position will spread very quickly in a target audience,” explains Mark Jaenicke, recruitment and HR director at Viking Recruitment. “Everyone tags their friends and friends of friends, and they are not always completely suitable for the role. But when using a professional recruitment agency, time is taken to carefully select, interview and background check candidates following the bespoke requirements a captain has provided.”
“It can certainly save you time using a recruitment agent to look for specific roles or, most commonly, someone last minute,” adds Liam Dobbin, managing director at Wilsonhalligan Yacht Recruitment. “A frequent call to us is when someone gets ill or injured mid-owner trip, and you need someone straight away. We can do all the leg work while the yacht is running shorthanded.”
For Marcy Laturno, director of crew placement at Luxury Yacht Group, there is no substitute for the experience of professional crew agents, who are daily making comparisons of every candidate based on level of experience, tickets, references and personality traits. “A trusted agent should be able to provide you with your best career-minded options in a matter of minutes,” she comments. “With a strong vetting process, the risk of hiring an unknown entity that will either harm the vessel, disrupt the programme or your crew dynamics is vastly reduced when hiring through an agency.”
“When a owner or captain uses an MLC-certified recruitment agency, they will benefit from the work processes of dedicated search and selection professionals,” concludes Cailbourdin. “They will know that the shortlist of candidates they receive has been properly interviewed, matched to the client brief, relevant licences checked and references verified. There will be a replacement guarantee policy in place, per binding terms and conditions. The best agencies will make it their business to know the yacht profile and automatically present the best personality types; they offer a wealth of resources and widespread industry knowledge.”
In order to achieve a balance between the upsides that both social media and recruitment agencies provide, there are now a number of online solutions that enable you to source crew at a fraction of the cost of going through an agency. Often, they come with the same tools and filters for selecting potential applicants, and the same terms of confidentiality.
Social media can be an effective way of connecting with lots of people quickly, but is it the best way to search for crew? While it can seem like an easier and cheaper way to hire, the process can be grueling and time consuming for the employer, and the potential risks of making the wrong hire could end up costing the vessel more than a placement fee. The choice depends on whether the client is happy with a virtual hiring process or prefers a personalised service aimed to save time and money in the long run.
This is a snippet of The Crew Report’s Recruitment and Training Guide 2016