Yacht Crew Agents Vs Word of Mouth
A survey recently commissioned by The Crew Report uncovered that, of the 68 captains interviewed 31% used crew recruitment agents, 27% used recommendations or word of mouth and 24% used a combination of the two.
Captain of the M/Y PRINCESS LILY Lars Viljoen had this to say. “Hiring new crew can be difficult, because you only know if a crewmember fits once you have them working on board and under pressure. Not every crewmember works out and it is the captain’s responsibility to explain reasons for a dismissal to both the crewmember and the agent to ensure all parties understand why the dismissal has taken place, and hopefully improvements are made.
Captains can have a crucial role in working with agents; they need to help agents with better references for crewmembers to really highlight both the good and not-so-good points of the crewmember, as no one is perfect, and it’s only fair that the captain hiring and the agent suggesting a crewmember understand the candidate they are dealing with. Every reference I read nowadays sounds the same, and there is never mention of any faults or areas the crewmember in question can improve. Because of my strong relationship with my recruitment agency, I tell them in confidence where each crewmember can improve and this can really help the agent, and further improves our relationship.”
Yacht crew agents can also offer captains peace of mind. If a crewmember is hired off the dock very little, if any research is carried out into their background. When filling a crew vacancy through an agency the captain can feel assured that a thorough check on their candidate’s qualifications as well as an understanding on the candidates personal suitability for the position has been carried out prior to recommendation.
An un-named captain of a 39m motoryacht however was of the opinion that word of mouth was more effective. “I try to avoid recruitment agencies, but merely because it’s cheaper to not use them. A lot of agencies give promises that they’ll replace your crewmember if they don’t work out, but next time round they may not have the right candidate, so it’s not as easy as that; you’ve either got to get the right person or it’s no good at all, full stop.”
Whilst it is unfortunate that this captain has clearly had a poor experience with his recruiter, in reality most captains believe it is a mixture of the two techniques that is most commonly utilised and produces the most satisfactory results.
Whilst reliable, ‘old hands’ are often first thought of by captains on the look out for crew replacements, these are often unavailable as they are already in positions. This is where a crew recruitment agency with a portfolio of candidates actively looking for work are an invaluable source for captains needing to fill a position.