Crew » Career & Training » Agency or no Agency, That is the Question!

Agency or no Agency, That is the Question!

AlisonRentoul 1 LR15

When hiring crew for the season it can be tricky to decide the best way to find the best people. We all know there are plenty of crew out there looking for work – but how do we find the really good ones? Is it worth the effort of sourcing them ourselves, or should we stick to working with crew agencies?

There isn’t really a simple answer because there are pros and cons of both approaches. Basically it comes down to time, effort and budget - and of the three, what’s most important to you. If this is a question you’re mulling over, here’s the low down on the pros and cons of each to help you decide.

On the plus side, doing your own hiring can give you the option of spreading your recruiting net a little wider. In doing that, there’s the opportunity to find really great people who might not be on the crew agencies books or who are currently under the radar – maybe they are already in a job but are thinking about leaving, and hearing about an opening on your yacht could make them reach out to you. Of course there’s also the consideration of saving on agency fees which leaves more money for other things such as crew training and teambuilding. 

The downside of going it alone is that it can be extremely time consuming and frustrating. It’s not just going through CV’s and interviewing that takes time; think about phoning or emailing to see if candidates are available, plus checking references and certificates, all of which can add hours to your day. There is also the risk that the people you interview are un-vetted – in other words nobody else has screened them for you. This places more responsibility on your shoulders to choose wisely, as if problems arise later, you could be asked to explain why you didn’t pick up on it before hiring them.

Approved 250Receiving pre-screened candidates is one of the main benefits of working with crew agencies. The CV’s you receive from agencies will have been carefully selected and verified as it’s their job to do the hard work of checking references and vetting candidates. Most agencies will also provide some sort of placement guarantees which means that you have some peace of mind that you have recourse for action if the candidate doesn’t work out during the trial period.

Time is a big consideration for many busy Captains and senior crew. Maybe you don’t have time to look for your own candidates, or maybe you need them to start immediately. If you already have a lot on your plate then hiring through agencies is usually more efficient in terms of freeing up your time to focus on other important tasks and letting them do the leg work for you. Of course under the MLC we also now have the consideration that commercially registered vessels must use MLC compliant crew agencies if hiring through an agent, which narrows down the available agencies to work with and potentially the pool of available crew they have to offer.

If you do have time to source candidates yourself it could be worth looking into this option to give yourself peace of mind that you really have explored every possible option before committing to a hiring decision. There’s no hard and fast rule on which option is best, but as with most conundrums like this one thing is certain - you can only ever have two of the following three options: speed, quality, low cost. Choose any two and the remaining one is the factor that will be compromised.

What is your preferred hiring method? Let us know in the comments below!


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