Agencies like mine interview crew in person wherever possible. | A. BORRAS


Last week we talked about the benefits of using a Crew Agent like myself – the head hunting variety. So now let’s dive into how to get the best out of this relationship. We’ve already established that you’re happy to outsource this to a professional who can do all the running around and background checking for you. So how do we do this?

The agent (should) work with you to determine your exact needs. In my experience, every client is different and it takes a little time to get to know them. However, once this relationship is established it’s easier down the line – I have clients who can simply ping me a message saying “Erica, I need a chef for the season. Same brief as usual” and I’m on it like a car bonnet. Leaving them to crack on with all the other aspects of their jobs, knowing that I’ll only bother them when I have some suitable CVs to go through.

So to start, the client usually gives me the basic information on what they are seeking, I then drill down a bit to get some more details to help me find just the right fit. On paper it is often straightforward; e.g. Captain Bob on the busy travelling chartering 50m MY Bertha is seeking a Chief Mate holding CM3000gt, with at least a year´s experience as First Officer on a similar sized vessel. But it's my job to find out the type of personalities found on board; my aim isn't just to find a guy with the right ticket and experience, it is very important he fits in with the captain and existing crew.

To do this I ask the captain various questions that aren't specifically related to the positions. For example, ages and nationalities of the other crew on board, languages spoken, experience levels, and skill sets. Also I find out what the crew do in their spare time to unwind. Are they party animals? Homebodies? Are there lots of couples on board? Do the crew socialise together out of hours or do activities together? There are lots of different factors to consider in creating the perfect team.

Agencies like mine interview crew in person wherever possible; not just to determine experience levels but to get to know them a bit too! Personality goes a long way. We thoroughly check references and ask a lot of questions – again not just about work ethics, and skills but about them as individuals, how they interact in a team environment and how they get on with the other crew members especially when under pressure. I understand how demanding it is to work and live in a tiny space, so it's incredibly important to find personalities that mesh well. Sharing a cabin with someone who is your polar opposite is, to be frank, a total nightmare. Having common interests is important!

The way to get the best out of a crew agent is to help them build a relationship with you. Some clients send out emails to several agents which often results in all of them racing each other and bombarding the client with CVs. The client then has the unenviable task of working out who sent whom first… and informing all the agents during the ensuing bun fight. Some agents will throw CVs at the client to cover all bases, without being sure these crew really tick all the boxes, or worse, before confirming the crew member is even properly interested. When a captain sends out blanket requests it doesn't really give us agents the opportunity to really investigate the role. We do understand that sometimes you have what feels like five minutes’ notice so the only way to cover yourself is to contact lots of agents at the same time. In those situations it´s a free for all, and if you need a crew member that urgently you're probably not going to be as picky as when you have time on your side.

In an ideal world the client should take the time to develop and build relationships with a few good agents in different locations. Once you understand each other you will reap the long term benefits. When your lead deckhand slips and twists his ankle mid charter and you need another one to start the same day you should feel confident enough in your crew agent to be able to pick up the phone and tell them you need a new one, and now! They should already have a file on your vessel and probably on you too, so they know exactly the type of people you need.

Each yacht has its own programme and demands, your crew agent should understand that, and more importantly understand you. Your agent of choice (or agents) should be on the ball. You should not be asked the same questions every time you call… “is it private or charter?” “Motor or sail?” “How many crew?” etc etc. And if you are? Give me a shout!