Why is longevity onboard a yacht important if you want to progress?
What is longevity?
When yachts refer to longevity, they mean the period of time you have stayed on board one yacht. The higher up the professional role, the longer the expected time commitment. It’s a good rule of thumb to stay in a position on board until you are ready to progress. For junior crew, a solid season to a year is ideal. For experienced crew, 18 months to 2 years + is the preferred duration of service before more senior roles can be expected.
Why do yachts insist on longevity?
Proven longevity is a great sign that you can commit to the yacht for your contract. A yacht will be nervous of hiring someone who has moved around a lot mid-season for the same reason you would avoid a yacht with a high crew turnover.
Yachts are looking for crew who won’t leave mid-season or during a hard patch on board. So, having good longevity, shows you are reliable, resilient and consistent, and can interact well with other crew on a long-term basis. It is also a good indication that you have progressed during your time on board.
Too little or too much longevity
Everyone asks for longevity! However it can be a vicious cycle. If you lack longevity, it is harder to get on stable yachts that offer good packages, which in turn makes it much harder to stay onboard.
Joining a yacht where you aren’t happy can worsen the situation. Maybe it is too busy or has a toxic environment, safety issues or maybe that yacht is simply not the right fit. This can mean that you potentially leave mid-season, which then makes it harder to get good references and get on a new yacht, and it begins again. Moving around like this can be known as ‘yacht hopping’.
Catch 22 situation – can you have too much longevity on one yacht? If you stay on board the same yacht as a Junior Stew for several years, then you haven’t progressed or really learned anything new. If the opportunity to progress professionally isn’t available on board your yacht when the time is right, it is a good idea to look into positions on other vessels.
How to improve your longevity and get better references for better positions?
- Use your trial wisely – it is as much for you as for the yacht. It is not just for the yacht to decide if you are the right fit, as it works both ways. Follow your gut and, if it doesn’t feel right, you can always end the trial before you sign a contract.
- Ask around for information about the yacht and see what other people say. Investigate a little to see if it has a good reputation before you commit.
- It can feel easier to get longevity on a rotation and potentially much harder on busy private or charter yachts with minimal leave. In this situation you need to use your CV to show your season properly. In the description, explain exactly how many trips you have made, how many guests, your duties, and so on.
- Write on your CV if previous roles were permanent, temporary or seasonal. If you have left a permanent position then include a ‘reason for leaving’ in the final line, for example you are looking to step up. This will remove the question mark in the interviewer’s mind. If there was an issue onboard, just remember to be professional.
- Try to keep to your commitments. It is easy to be tempted by great offers of new, high salary roles mid-season, but why are they suddenly available? Is it too good to be true? Ask why the last Stew left and remember all that glitters is not gold…
- Think about the long game. Come next season, the best offers on rotations, privates or charters will go to the candidates who stuck to their commitment and got longevity the season before.
- Learn to spot the difference between a toxic environment and a high stress one. If it just high stress, think of ways that you could assist the team to help alleviate stress. Use your emotional intelligence to pre-empt situations and be the first to offer help to your Chief Stew and team.
- Never stay in toxic environment if it is damaging! However, try to leave professionally where possible. They will be writing your references. Whenever possible, it is also advisable to follow the correct procedure to disembark. Take the time to complete any necessary documents to ensure you are treated correctly and that you aren’t chasing things for months afterwards. Reach out to someone for help if you are struggling, sometimes an outside perspective and understanding ear can really help.
- Make the effort to find the best position for YOU – somewhere you want to be, that fits your personal circumstances, and where you can grow. We all have families, friends and commitments. Just be honest with how long you wish to commit to the yacht and any events you may have coming up. Chief Stews and Captains are usually only upset if they feel they have been misled. Being open means you can complete your contract and honour the commitment you have made, and get a great reference too.
- If you do decide to leave mid season, then be honest with your employers about why you are leaving. This can make a huge difference. I often see candidates who feel so guilty for leaving that they make up different excuses, for example “I’m leaving the industry as it’s not for me”, or “there’s an emergency at home”. When the Chief Stew is then called for a reference the next day… it can leave a bad taste in the mouth.
- Don’t be ashamed if you have left. Everyone can have a bad season and join a yacht that is not the right fit. Be proud you took the hard choice to leave.
- Finally, please remember that everyone in the industry knows everyone. Don’t gossip or bad mouth people as that will often backfire and ultimately reflect badly on you.
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