You’ve done the hard part. You’ve made it through Kings Point, one of the state maritime academies, or maybe you’re part of the unlicensed ranks. You graduated and found your first job filling in for a third mate that needed some additional time off before heading back out to sea.
But when that job ended you struggled to find your next job. It took longer than you had hoped it would. You try asking the other ship’s officers how they found work when they were starting out. But they all started when the industry was more vibrant. It was a lot easier back when they were first starting out.
So—now you’re worried. Did you just go through four years of college having much less fun than your high school buddies only to be as unemployable as they are? Do you have to take a job you don’t want just to keep a paycheck coming? Heck no!
There are plenty of things you can do to help your chances of landing a new job. But you’ve already bookmarked every maritime-related job board on the internet. The employment counselors back at the academy don’t take your calls anymore.
So, what are you going to do? The following tips may be helpful:
- Advance your license: You already knew that after talking to some of the other ship’s officers on your last job. But if you can’t get work, how can you advance your license? Well—you can speed up the timetable by going after jobs that count time-and-a-half. You can also gain time by volunteering with specific organizations. Check with sites like VolunteerMatch.org for available opportunities.
- Headhunters: Tired of looking for work? Let someone else do the legwork for you! But if you find one that wants to charge you a fee keep looking. The good ones will charge the company, not you.
- Stay in touch with people you went to school with and have worked with in the past. The employed ones will often have the inside scoop on jobs when they become available. In other words—network.
- Forums/Social media groups: People will often talk about job openings on forums and in social media groups (i.e., Facebook, Out2Sea, LinkedIn and Twitter). Some forums will even have sections specific to job openings.
- Knowledge is power: This can apply to so many things.
- Learn what prerequisites a job you like requires. If there is anything you’re missing, contact a maritime training institute to find out what you need to do to get it.
- Stay up to date on how economic conditions may be affecting job possibilities. That way you can avoid looking for work in areas where there isn’t going to be any.
- Stay up to date on maritime-related news by listening to a podcast, reading a maritime-related blog, and subscribe to a newsletter and daily news clippings. That way, you can sound knowledgeable during your next interview.
- Union: Joining a union can help, but it can be very hard to find work when you are first starting out in a union. But if you can bide your time, it will get easier.
- Resume: You may think you know how to create one, but you’ll be surprised what you could be doing better after talking to a resume pro. Don’t forget your cover letter, too!
- Make sure you’re looking at the right job websites: What’s aspects do the wrong ones have on them? If it hasn’t been updated in awhile, it is not worth checking on. Not only will new jobs not be posted very often, but you may waste your time applying for jobs that have been filled
- Shoreside: If life at sea is starting to wear on you, before going shoreside think about getting a graduate degree. That way, not only can you get more acclimated to how things work shoreside, it will make you a better candidate to prospective employers.
Probably the most important tip someone looking for work in the maritime industry can get is not to give up. It may seem like common sense not to, but it is not uncommon for people to get frustrated with looking and give.
To combat that possibility, don’t do the same thing every day. Variety is more than just the spice of life; it will keep you from getting bored while you search. Be sure to treat your search like it’s a job. Your workday wouldn’t last just a couple hours; your job-search day should be the same.
Remain confident in your ability to find a job and eventually you will!