Top tips: How to land a job at a yacht show
By Georgia Tindale
As we sail on through the busy yacht show season, it is time for those looking to enter the industry for the first time (or those looking to land a new position) to pull their socks up, slap on their game faces and get ready to schmooze as if their lives depended on it. Indeed, no one could deny that job hunting can be something of an overwhelming and disheartening activity at the best of times.
But never fear! Here at the industry’s leading jobs board, we’ve got your back. We speak to Shelley Viljoen, former purser and now Head of Recruitment at The Crew Hunter and learn her top tips for how to secure a position at a yacht show – and the pitfalls to avoid along the way.
First off, what kind of mindset should you be attending a yacht show with if you are looking to find a job?
This is really important: boat shows are usually a really fun environment, but you need to make sure that you remember who you are and why you’re there. You’re not there to have fun – you are there to represent yourself and try to get a job on a vessel. It is so easy to get swept up in the fun of the yacht show, so it’s just about keeping focused on the task at hand.
What should I wear at a yacht show?
My biggest piece of advice on this topic would be to always look smart and already ready to work. In terms of specifics, this would mean wearing something like a boat uniform – a polo shirt and shorts, and if you are a woman and have a skort to wear, that’s always helpful, make sure you tie your hair back and so on. Basically, if you can present yourself looking like you already work for them, that will go a long way.
Yacht shows are so busy! How do I make sure I stand out from the crowd?
I remember being on yachts as crew myself, and the biggest thing that made me remember prospective crew members was when they did things I didn’t expect – and this made me want to speak to them and helped them to stick in my mind for positive reasons.
Just as some examples, this could be somebody who put the mat straight for me on the boat, that would be a massive thing for me; somebody who saw the garbage coming out and would take it for me and put it in the bin. If there are brokers on board the yacht, you can arrange their shoes nicely for them. People will notice these little touches and then we'll think of you next time. This shows that you can think outside of the box, but you’re not trying too hard to sell yourself.
How do I make sure I make the best impression?
It is all about representing yourself in the best possible way and putting yourself out there. Don’t be nervous about dock walking – it’s part and parcel of being green and we all have to do it at the start. It’s always good to go to the bars in the afternoons and evenings so that crew can get to know you, but make sure you’re not that drunk person in the bar. That way, they will recognise you the next day when you’re walking around the show. It’s all about positive relationships and networking, and then, as I said before, doing something a little bit extra that they wouldn’t expect.
What are your biggest ‘nos’ for yacht shows and finding a job?
Being untidy, or being drunk at the boat shows. In terms of your appearance too, you don’t need to overdo it and look like you’re in a TikTok video! I have noticed some women submitting some interesting photographs on their CVs which might look good in other social media settings, but don’t work for yachting. Natural hair tied back and looking smart is the way to do it, as presentation is really important.
Finally, what are the three traits which characterise a successful crew member?
Friendliness, smart presentation and having a hunger to learn and improve. It’s not just about being keen, but it’s about being the kind of person who is willing to do anything to learn and improve. Being friendly is also key!
You can tell when someone is friendly when you speak to them, and this goes miles above anything else because, at the end of the day, you have to live on board a boat with people for prolonged periods of time. In my experience, someone who is friendly and bubbly generally will be an easier crew member to immerse into your team. That said, however, yachting is a broad church, and I would like to think that there is room for everyone at the table.
Ready for your next challenge? To find out more about the huge range of current yacht crew roles available, check out our Yotspot vacancies here.