Whilst researching the best web developer for the site upgrade I found a few that offered half assed blogs (like mine) but found one in particular that maintained a blog that was informative, interesting and professional, whilst browsing this blog I came upon a post about how to get a job as a web developer, after reading the advice I emailed the author and asked his permission to use some of his ideas and use it to help me offer advice to newly qualified cadets looking for work and how to optimise their chances…in my opinion anyway.
If you are in any way considering a career in web development it is essential reading and can be found here.
The majority of the tips that I’m going to share will also be applicable to other industries, however the post is mainly written for newly qualified cadets. Those looking for a cadetship or almost any job in fact will benefit from reading these tips… Well… I hope.
I believe a massive part of getting jobs is preparation, there is an old Merchant Navy saying, you may of heard of it…the ‘5 Ps;’
Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
It is my hope that these tips will help you properly prepare and increase your chances of bagging that all important first job as a qualified officer.
I have been very very fortunate in my career and also with previous no related jobs, having never failed at interview even before my life as a mariner back in the grand days as tesco chief shelf stacker, cinema worker extraordinaire and Rolex and salesperson. So I have not personally put into practise all of what I’m about to suggest but have included it because I feel if you did it you would stand a better chance against a candidate who hasn’t.
Ok, let’s get down to business…
1. Clean up or hide your social persona
Being on social sites and promoting these to potential employers is great in my eyes. It shows you have a life outside of work and reveals more on any hobbies or skills that you might have.
But let’s get one thing very very clear, we live in an age where even those who are retired know how the internet and google works, so… In my opinion… you are a dickhead if you think that your current or prospective company won’t check you out! If you have pictures of you being a dickhead they can and WILL be found! If you are looking into a job (especially offshore/ North Sea) and that company has a no alcohol policy and you have pictures of you all over Facebook appearing to be doing a good job as an alcoholic then they will shred your CV and use it for the litter tray.
So either tighten up your Facebook security, who can see what etc. or actually go through and delete the evidence of said dickheadishness and if you have friends who post ‘funny shit’ on your wall that’s actually offensive then yeah, they need to go too!
This advice might sound harsh but if you are a cadet looking for your first job; that one piece of advice alone might mean the difference between doubling or even tripling you’re cadet salary or having to give Mc Donald’s a call and seeing if they need a chief burger flipper with a officer of the watch ticket.
I know 4 people who have lost their jobs from posting pictures of them doing dangerous things at work and not following regulations/ policy, you might think employers have no right to see your Facebook because it’s your personal life, well…get with the times! They want to know who they are employing and what better way than your Facebook profile, big wig companies are now requesting access to your profile before they will offer you an interview never mind a job!
2. Set up a personal website and email address
Do this before you write your CV so you can use the URL/ Email address!
As I just explained, we live in a modern world so in my opinion it’s worth buying a website of your own and make it purely about you, a kind of online CV. Buy a domain (ie. http://yourname.com) for a couple of pennies and setup a site. Add a photo, contact details, a biography, link to any sites that you’ve got, Twitter or Linked In etc. and really sell yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and think: “Would I employ this guy/girl?” No tackiness here though, plain, simple, professional!
Whilst you’re here and buying a domain, set up a personal email address. This might be just me but there’s nothing more off-putting and embarassing than seeing something like groovy-boy-2YK@hotmail.com or sexy- email@example.com as an email address. You have a real name! Grow up and use it!
3. Write your CV
When buying a house they say that you’ve made up your mind eight seconds after walking through the front door and I relate this process to a recruiter reading your CV. Aside from the actual interview itself, this to me is the next most important step of applying for a job. It’s the first view that a potential employer will have of you so make it good, put the important stuff nearer the top, and sell yourself.
In your CV be sure to include the following:
a) Your name ( you’d be surprised!) and contact details.
b) Links to your personal website.
C) Include a picture, it might sound a little strange but associating a face with a name is important.
d) Your skillset. Make a list every single skill you hold, regardless of how little or insignificant it is. I’ll come back to this in tip #4
e) Previous employment and previous education.
f) Your hobbies and interests outside of work.
g) Your future goals. An employer is going to be impressed if you demonstrate you’re not one to sit still and that you have ambitions. Maybe there’s a new language you want to learn, or perhaps you want to make Captain or Chief Engineer by a certain age.
DO NOT LIST EVERY SINGLE CERTIFICATE NUMBER!!! There is a big problem with undesirables having forged certificates, don’t allow your ticket numbers to compromised!
DO TAKE THE CERTIFICATES TO YOUR INTERVIEW
4. Customise CV to the role
If you do find a job of interest don’t just hit the ‘Apply Now’ button and send your default CV. Read the job description and visit the companies website when possible. Find out exactly what type of people they are and what they’re looking for. Once you know, open your CV and adjust it to the job specification.
Agreed, this will take longer if you have to change your CV each time but it definitely gives you the best chance of standing out.
Besides… You havn’t got a job so what else have you got to do?
Now let’s begin to make all your hard work worth the effort and start looking at jobs. There are lots of job websites out there and, unfortunately, they all list different vacancies. My best advice here is to sign up to the top 3 or 4 job websites, upload your CV and make it visible to recruiters. Note: You may get swamped with emails and calls for months from employment agencies so making it visible is a personal choice.
I recommend www.ship-staff.co.uk as an excellent recruitment service, you can upload your CV to them here.
6. Sign up to email alerts
To save you having to visit each job website every day, setup email alerts so you can get notified of new jobs that match your criteria as and when they’re added.
7. Go against the job description
Don’t worry if the job description reads tanker, DP, cargo experience required etc. and you’ve never sailed a day on those types of ship before. Unless they state specific additional qualifications for that type of vessel then I’d suggest you apply, you have to be in it to win it right!? If you can prove to the employer that you excel in all other areas then they may be willing to relax on other criteria.
8. Apply quickly
The email alerts from tip #6 give you the best chance of this but I think it’s important to apply as soon as possible. If you see the job drop into your inbox don’t think “I’ll apply for that this evening when I’m in bed”. Do it now. They could of had twenty applications by the time you’ve got your PJ’s on ten hours later. Get your CV in before everyone else and you could have an interview arranged within the same day.
Depending on the job etc. In the space of just over 24 hours you may well have gone from no job, to having an interview, to being employed and on a ship all because of quick reactions on everyones part.
9. Throw enough shit at the wall…
… and some of it might stick. It’s a worthwhile saying and one which I also think applies to job hunting. If you see a job that doesn’t exactly match your criteria, or lists a skill that you don’t havel, apply anyway. Apply, apply, apply. After all, what’s the worst that can happen? Until you get an opportunity to meet the employer and discuss ships and company policies you can’t be sure whether if it’s the job for you. It’s better to have 10 interviews for jobs you’re 90% sure about, than no interviews at all.
10. The interview
You’ve had a call or an email back and you’ve been offered an interview. Firstly, congratulations! To get this far you’ve already beaten off some of the competition so take some pride in that. I won’t go into the details of how best to conduct yourself at an interview as this is a more generic subject. All I will say is:
a) Dress smart.
Seafarers are by nature scruffy looking bastard apart from joining and pay off days but to me this tip goes without saying but I’ve seen people turn up to interviews in jeans before. I don’t care how casual everyone is dressed on the companies ‘Meet The Team’ page. Go and buy a suit and look the shit!
b) Be on time. In fact, be 10 minutes early, be 30 minutes early. If you’re travelling a distance to get to the interview leave an hour earlier than you’ll think you need. If you get there early, so what. Being late to an interview is an instant reflection on your punctuality and we don’t want to ruin our chances before we’ve even got through the door. Would you be late for watch? No… Then start as you mean to carry on!
C) Don’t take your training portfolio unless the potential employer asked to see it (they won’t) it’s time to put the big boy (or girl) pants on now you have the ticket!
d) Take a copy of your own CV. Not many people do this but I see it as an important step because:
i) The recruiter might not necessarily have printed a copy out for themselves.
ii) You can refer back to it throughout the interview. We’ve all had mental blocks during an interview and I find that the CV is a great reference when you get stuck.
iii) You can leave a copy on the table. Leave a trace of your interview and remain in the minds of the interviewer after you’ve left.
e) Take food.
No, not a lunch box or a picnic. Just some doughnuts, homebaked muffins or similar treat. I haven’t personally tried this one but heard it from Sir Alan Sugar a few years back and love the idea of it. He talked about an interview he had where there were twenty candidates. One of them bought in some treats and, out of the twenty people he interviewed, guess which one he remembered? That’s right, the one that bought the food in.
11. Follow up
Once the interview has taken place, leave it a week or so and, if you don’t hear anything back, maybe drop the company a quick email to touch base and see if they’ve made a decision. If they have and you weren’t selected then try to find out why so you can improve for the next interview you get. If they haven’t made a decision your enthusiasm won’t go unnoticed and you’ll remain in the minds of the decision makers.
12. Don’t give up
Jobs are getting listed every hour of every day. If your perfect job isn’t listed, or if you don’t get an interview, don’t worry. Just keep on applying and making refinements to your social media and CV. Keep on building your skillset to enhance your portfolio and that job will come along eventually with enough determination.
13. Link In
You may think my last point about refining your social media might be a bit much and maybe even un-necessary but I have recently discovered Linked In.
After ignoring countless emails from people asking me to join up and be part of their network I finally gave in. Linked In had been described to me as Facebook but for businesses so naturally being a sea dog I felt no need but I have come to realise it’s a fantastic tool for almost any industry!
Linked In is basically your online CV and it’s amazingly simple to use and not only can it help you… You can help others! There is a facility to endorse people’s CVs and add comments about those you have worked with…. Finally I can tell the world what I think to my pesky cadets!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 2013
If I could offer you only one tip for the future (of job hunting) Linked In would be it!