Crew Life » Career & Training » The Crew Coach: Hold out for a Couple's Job or go it Alone?

The Crew Coach: Hold out for a Couple's Job or go it Alone?

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Q: Lisa, 28, Chef:

“My boyfriend and I are in Antibes looking for a couple’s job: he is a deckhand and I am a chef. We’ve been told by practically everyone that because we’re new in yachting we don’t have much hope of getting a job together, but we really want to wait as long as we can before we go for jobs on different boats. 

That’s kind of a last resort, we hate the idea! I know that might seem like we’re being unrealistic, but we’re hoping that because I’ve got a Michelin-star restaurant background and my partner is a watersports instructor, we might have a better chance than some other couples? What do you think? And how long should we hold out before we start looking for jobs apart?”

A: The Crew Coach:

 I know this is all you’re hearing at the moment so I’m not going to go on again about how hard it is to get your very first job on a yacht as a couple. In a nutshell it is difficult, but it’s also not completely impossible. A lot of captains are scared of hiring couples, as yachting is a high-pressure environment that can very quickly expose the cracks in relationships: particularly if you’ve never lived and worked together before.

If you are absolutely determined to stick it out for a couples job as long as you can, there are a few things you can do to give yourselves a better chance of success. Make sure your resumes are absolutely top-notch and that they match each other (this gives a subliminal message that you are a strong couple) i.e. the same layout, fonts and structure etc. Make it clear that you’re a couple in your profile statements, and in your marital status you can add ‘Partner is (insert name), Chef (on his CV or Deckand on your CV). Mention how long you have been together in the profile statement and if you have had experience living and working together before make sure you emphasise this. As I’ve mentioned, Captains are less likely to hire you if they see you as a risk, so you need to assure them that you’re a really solid couple. You might like to send your CVs over to us for a no obligation independent appraisal of whether they are working for you or against you.

Once you know your CVs are really strong, it’s worth having one last really good crack at getting a job together. Absolutely blitz every port in your region dockwalking together and recontact all the agencies to say you are still looking. That way you’ll feel you really tried your best. If nothing comes of this and your savings are beginning to get low, it’s time to bite the bullet and present yourselves as individual candidates. Make sure the crew agents know you’re looking for yachts that are not anti couples, that way if one of you gets hired you might be able to bring the other one over if a suitable vacancy opens on your yacht. Your other option, of course, is that you both consider seasonal roles so that you can re-unite and start your joint job hunt again in the autumn.

One thing is certain: your focus on only getting a job together is almost certainly blinding you to the best individual job opportunities out there, for both of your skill sets. There’s probably the perfect first-season job for you out there, such as on a well-known charter boat that will work wonders on your CV, and there might be a watersports-mad boat out there for your boyfriend. But the chances of these being the same boat are pretty low unfortunately. You could be sabotaging your own success in yachting by going for the wrong kind of yacht just so you can be together, when it might be better to find a great job that will consider couples in the future and go from there.

Something else to consider is that working and living together on the same yacht is actually really difficult and can sometimes be the death of even the strongest relationships! This pressure can be much worse when one of you has had to massively compromise their job description, or if you have massively compromised the kind of yacht or itinerary you’re working on, just to stay together. This puts being physically united ahead of individual career progression and that might not actually be the best thing for the relationship if you are both still trying to establish your credentials in this new industry.

So yes, you might strike it lucky and get a job together, and as you say, your Michelin star background and your boyfriend’s watersports experience are great qualifications to bring across to yachting. However you really don’t want to be in the position where you hold out and hold out until you run out of money, or the season starts without you and you’re left standing in an empty port.

Remember what I said about needing to show you’re a strong couple in the yachting industry? It might well be that this is your chance to prove you are, by getting on separate yachts and showing that your relationship is tough enough to survive a season apart. Good luck and let me know how you get on!

What do you think about couples onboard, share your comments below!

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