At this time of year I'm madly busy helping crew make smart career moves in preparation for the season ahead - some are moving up, some are moving on and some are moving off boats altogether in search of greener pastures.
And of course in between all this I'm also dedicating as much time as I can to helping those who haven't yet joined the industry get their first big break from the dock to the decks of some of the world's most beautiful yachts.
This week I'm looking at what can help a new stew get his or her foot on the passerelle.
So you’re starting out as a junior stew. You’re young, enthusiastic and don’t mind a bit of hard work… but your CV is looking a little unexciting. Your current work experience doesn’t really relate to crewing and you’re struggling to make it relevant or appealing. Well, don’t despair. I often get contacted by frustrated new crew who are trying to break through the ‘newbie barrier’- you know the Catch-22 that you need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience. But what you might not realise is that you could already have relevant experience to transfer across.
Here are five ideas for transferable skills you might already have up your sleeve - and even if you don’t yet have these, they are quick and easy to attain, wherever you are.
On luxury yachts the interior crew are responsible for all aspects of creating the ‘ambience’ onboard, including creating beautiful floral displays and imaginative table settings.
Even on larger yachts they often economise when they have time by purchasing large amounts of flowers and doing the arrangements themselves and any skills you have in this area will be invaluable.
In addition to this arrangements need to be refreshed regularly so having a great eye for this is a really strong asset.
You might not know this but when guests are onboard it is the industry expectation that they should never see the same table setting or napkin fold twice throughout their stay. This can become extremely challenging when they are on for several weeks at a time!
As a junior stew you will often be responsible for choosing and preparing the napkins and it will really help you to have a great range of folds that you already know and can produce quickly and easily without having to refer to a book. This is something you can practice at home and a great thing to mention in your CV. Yachts often theme their table settings so start getting creative with different ideas.
Pinterest is a fantastic resource for this – check my Pinterest page here and get your creative juices flowing!
Gaining a ‘green’ entry level position is sometimes easier on a smaller yacht, and in these positions the steward or stewardess is often required to assist in the galley. On a three-crew yacht, you might start out as a stew/cook and may need to prepare food for the crew and even guests.
To do this you don’t need to have formal qualifications, having a great knowledge of basic cooking skills and being confident in the preparation of a few trusty recipes will really stand you in good stead and this is a fantastic thing to mention in your CV. In addition, if you know how to cater for special meal requirements you can be a great asset to your crew and guests, as many of them will be very health conscious or on special diets.
Babysitting and Childcare
This is an essential and often overlooked asset that many entry level crew already have without realising it. Again, it’s not necessary to have formal qualifications in this area (unless you are applying specifically for a nanny position) but a stewardess/steward with experience of looking after kids is a great help onboard many yachts. Even if this experience was not gained in a professional environment it still counts – maybe you are the oldest in your family and grew up looking after your younger siblings, or perhaps you did a lot of babysitting when you were a teenager. Make sure you include this information in your profile.
Laundry & Sewing
Once again this is a life skill many people overlook but being able to take care of clothes properly is expected of a junior stewardess and this includes making sure you can read and understand the care labels on clothing and know how to wield an iron on a wide range of fabrics without melting anything.
By the same token, you’d be amazed how often you need to sew on a button or fix a hem and having someone with the confidence to do this quickly and neatly is a great bonus in the team.
All these things can be mentioned in your work experience if relevant, but if not you can absolutely make sure you put them in your profile and know that these little extra touches go a long way to showing people you absolutely have what it takes to be given a chance to prove yourself.
How is your yachting CV coming along? Let us know in the comments section below!
p.s. If you’re new to yachting and looking for work on the French Riviera, make sure you come along to one of my free talks, every Tuesday in Antibes – click HERE for more details.
Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See www.thecrewcoach.com for more information.