Camper and Nicholsons
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The Benefits of a Crew Agency

20th Feb 2014

You need crew and you need them fast. Or maybe you have a bit of time but you need just the right person, with a very particular set of skills. It seems that the thing to do is spread the word all over, and you would prefer not to have to pay an invoice if possible.

First obvious step, you pick up the phone and ring a few old friends who have worked with you before. No luck, everyone is happy and settled. Next up are calls to the crew houses, fliers in the pubs, postings on Facebook, AngloInfo, Linked In. What happens after that? Floods of emails and CVs from every dockwalker in Antibes, not to mention long winded sales pitches and multi-page cover letters from desperate crew, qualified or not, who spend their days scrounging the internet for job vacancies. The word sure spread alright. There must be some good candidates in there, but you don’t have the time to sift through the growing pile of CVs, much less check references or validate their certificates.

So, reluctantly, you decide to give the job to the agencies. The more the better, right? No time to talk to each one personally. Out goes the general description of who you are looking for in a perfect world. Crew agents, having detected your email template with numerous competitors in blind copy, begin the race to the commission. They obviously have a better system in place than you do, and the CVs coming in are starting to tick the right boxes. But there are still too many to keep track. You pick out a few candidates who have worked on boats that you know and pick up the phone. One seems to be home in Australia and doesn’t answer. The second doesn’t know who you are or which position you are referring to. And anyway, he has just accepted a job on his old boat. The emails keep coming through. You look back at the overwhelming, ever-growing stack of CVs on your desk. Hopeless desperation and panic start to set in.

Ok so maybe hopeless is a bit strong. But we all know that it is difficult to find the right person with the right qualifications. The one who fills your specific needs and also fits in with your existing crew, and in a hurry. And since the onset of MLC 2006, it is even more important that qualifications are meticulously checked with the proper authorities… A step that takes not only time but requires special access. Crew agencies are meant to be the solution to this problem, but unfortunately this comes with a price tag. A cost that most will attest is worth paying when the process goes smoothly. But often, such as in the situation described above, agencies are not given the opportunity to work to their potential, and the system breaks down.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we contact every candidate before sending them out. We make sure they are interested, at least in theory, and that they are available. It’s not totally fool proof of course… People change their minds and plans. But in principle we believe that our reputation as crew agents depends on us consistently presenting hand-picked candidates for your boat, who are well-vetted, and who meet your criteria. Since we don’t wham out 20 CVs the minute the job order falls, we might miss out on the placement. And when we do find the right person first, we trust that you will let us know.

That brings me to a conclusion that might seem counter intuitive at first. If you have the time and resources to find your own crew, then you should go for it. Save the boss a few bucks. But if you have an important position to fill… one that requires verified qualifications, real experience, and thorough references, you should call a crew agent. That’s right, you should call one crew agent.

When you give a job to one agency, even if it is only for the first 48 hours, you give them a chance to do their job properly. Without the pressure to get the CV in first, agents will be able to take more care in their response. Not only will candidates be briefed and checked for location, availability, and credentials, but references will be recent and I guarantee that the emails you receive will be clear, detailed, and precise. You will be presented with an accurate short list of people who have what you need, all the guess work and leg work removed. Think of the time you saved.

Because how often have you sighed and thought to yourself when looking at an impressive stack of new deckhand CVs… “I wish someone had met all of these guys and could just tell me which one I should hire…” Well we have. And if you give us a chance, we’ll tell you what we think.

For more information or to speak to one of the lovely crew agents at the Camper & Nicholsons Crew Placement Division, please click here.

by Camper Nicholsons

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If you have an important position to fill… one that requires verified qualifications, real experience, and thorough references, you should call a crew agent