How to get a job, S4 style. (Cadets, take note!!)

Muse thoughtfully about looking for a new job next time you are on leave…..

Imagine where you would like to go and what sector you would like to work in…..

Have a cup of tea, and voila! Your inbox will ping and an exciting job offer will have materialized.

With a chunky pay rise.

I kid you not, this is exactly what happened to me about 2 weeks ago. I am, I know, the jammiest little swine in the world, and actually feel slightly very embarrassed at my good fortune, when many people I know are desperately seeking their first job as a qualified officer. However, I have a point to make here, mainly directed at cadets:

WORK YOUR ASS OFF.

As a cadet, you may feel tempted to cruise by, doing the minimum necessary to complete your TRB, workbooks and the dreaded Work Based Learning. Telling yourself that at the end of the day the grades don’t matter as long as you pass, it’s only the ticket that matters. In a way, this is true. But consider this: once you have your ticket, you are plunged into a depressing search for that first trip job. You are up against all the other people who have also recently qualified and you need an edge.

You may be lucky and be sponsored by a company who say they will take you on once you’re qualified. However, this seems to be more and more infrequent. (How many cadets does your company sponsor and how many positions do they need to fill?) Several people I know were told that they would be taken on, only to have this offer retracted when the time came. They may be able to offer some cadets a place, but who do you think they will pick? The guy who cruised by doing the minimum, or the guy who was involved, interested and always willing to help.

It’s not just about doing the work, it’s how you go about it. Do it on ship, rather than try and write stuff up later when you are home, ask the officers for help (at an appropriate time), and offer your help when it comes to cruddy tasks they need done. Go to your training officer and ask for a time to sit down and discuss how you can cover aspects of the TRB that don’t come up all that often. And above all, go about your work with a positive attitude. No matter how narked you may feel inside that you’ve been sent to chip and paint/count shackles/inspect fire extinguishers/take inventory of a lifeboat when you’ve already got that task signed off in your book. Get on with it, and when someone comes past and asks how you’re getting on, be positive. This is all stuff that has to be done anyway, and it might as well be you. You only need 6 months bridge watchkeeping experience, so don’t moan, especially if you are on your first trip. In fact, never moan, if you have a concern, go to your training officer and ask when you can sit down together to discuss your training.

Hopefully, if you do these things, by the time you leave the ship, you will have given the officers on board the impression that you are a hard-working, diligent and pleasant person to have around. Now here’s the really important bit: Get their personal email addresses, and give them yours.

People think that the industry is huge, but actually it’s quite small, everyone knows each other, and memories are long. When a job becomes available, people will not necessarily put an ad up for it. A lot of the time, they will think to themselves “I wonder if so-and-so is available, I’ll just drop them a line, see what they’re up to” If someone who’s been working for a while decides to change jobs, they first of all contact people the people they used to work with on other ships and find out what’s available. So, if you have made a good impression on someone, they might recommend you to a friend; or have a word with the recruitment agency you’ve just had an interview with, who are saying that such and such company couldn’t possibly employ you because you don’t have the necessary experience yet; or they might just email you out of the blue with an awesome job offer. Trust me, it works.

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Greetings from Panama!

Well that’s resolution number 1 sorted 🙂 And it’s not just any job, it’s the job I’d been really hoping might show up. (Without seriously thinking that I’d be THAT lucky as to actually get it!) But here I am, in a hotel room on the 11th floor of the Crown Plaza in Panama City, contemplating the fact that I’m joining the Wind Star tomorrow morning as 3/O. That’s one of the sister ships to the Wind Surf, which, if you are a regular reader, you will know I spent 4 and 1/2 months on last year as a cadet.

I have, basically, landed my dream job (dream starter job anyway, I intend to progress up the ladder!) first time. I was very half hearted about job hunting for most of January, mainly because I had to wait 2 weeks to get my CoC back and I needed my CoC number to put on job applications. Once I had it though, I was able to finish filling out a couple of on-line applications, I then called my sponsor to ask about something banal and also got a contact name and number for one of the companies I’d just done the online application for. A few minutes later I had an interview with a recruitment agency lined up! They told me it that there was practically zero chance of anyone taking me on as a 3/O and the best I could hope for was a 4/O position to start with. (Everyone wants experience, but you seem to have to have experience in order to get experience…) And that once they’d interviewed me, if I passed muster, then I’d still have to wait around for an unknown period of time waiting for a position to actually open up.

The interview certainly seemed to go well, and they told me they’d let me know the final outcome in a couple of days. I did tell them, several times, that I had really enjoyed my time on the Surf and that I’d love to go back, and when I got home I dropped a line to a contact from the ship, asking if they might be able to put in a good word for me. Next morning I got the call asking me when I could start! They wanted me to join at the weekend, but that would have given me two days to sort everything out, and I’d got plans too, so I asked if I could possibly join mid-week instead, and here I am!

The journey here has been long and arduous, starting on Tues morning with a trip to the Docs for a company medical, then a stay in a hotel miles from the airport, two flights, the second of which was 10 and 3/4 hrs, but that’s not including the delay due to technical faults and refuelling etc. Think I spent about 12 hrs sat on that one! But I’m here now, and I can hardly keep my eyes open any more (Well I have been up for 24 hours!)

The fun starts tomorrow; I’ll keep you posted 🙂

New Year, New Life!

I’m sitting here with a glass of hot spiced cider, and realising that, as Dorothy said to Toto, I’m not in Kansas anymore. It’s strange, I feel rather lost at the moment, for the first time in three years I have no schedule, no deadline and, most importantly of all, no idea where my next wage is going to come from. (This has not stopped me from purchasing far too many pairs of boots on ebay mind!) So my New Years resolutions are quite simple-

1. Get a job – this will provide me with the money to do the next resolution.

2. Learn to drive – this will enable me to get to jobs and see friends without having to deal with trains all the time. It will also give me something to do when on leave.

3. Go to the on-board gym more than once in a blue moon – this will balance out the fact that driving means I no longer have to lug cases through stations, which is one of my primary sources of exercise. That and cycling to and from college, which I also no longer have to do.

I haven’t started looking for a job until now because a) I wanted Christmas and New Year with my loved ones and b) I felt that I deserved a break. I had a wonderful family Christmas at home, with not only Ma, Pa, Sister and her new husband, but also the Beast and his mother. I had a completely tech free day, (although we had to watch the Queen’s Speech) full of exquisite food, fancy drinks (including a 1927 port and a 1906 brandy), a roaring log fire and scrabble to round it all off (which of course I lost!). New Years was seen in with friends and also included an gluttony of food and drink. My waistline has somewhat expanded over the last few weeks!

Now however, with January looming cold and bleak I am finding my feet are starting to itch a little and I am resolved to get my paperwork in order and begin the process of applications and interviews. If anyone knows of any jobs going out there, please do let me know!!

Meanwhile I wish you and yours all the very best for 2012, and hope to see you on the high seas soon.

S4 xx