TYS Recruitment

Breaking into Yachting: Tips for Greenies to Land Their First Gig

“Greenie” – /ˈɡriːni/, Noun – a newbie to yachting with no experience onboard. 

So, you’re diving headfirst into the glamorous, fast-paced world of yachting. Whether you’re just starting or have some experience, you’re probably well-acquainted with the term ‘greenie.’ Joining the yachting industry is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Green Crew face many challenges as they try to establish themselves. As a recruitment company, we’ve had countless greenies ask us: “How do I land my first job when every position requires experience?” followed by questions on how they can stand out from the crowd and make their big break.

The advice you’re likely tired of hearing is to keep dockwalking, stay active on Facebook, update your CV on agency sites, and most importantly, keep your chin up and persevere. While this is all solid advice, we wanted to go a step further. We asked some seasoned industry professionals why it’s so tough for greenies to find their feet and advice on how they can knuckle down and find that first permanent position. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

With 10 years of experience in the industry, 5 of those being as a Chief Stewardess and 2.5 of those being as a Purser, we thought there was no better person to ask for insight! This advice is offered by an amazing Stewardess who has worked on vessels ranging from 48 – 99m, and is currently employed as a Purser managing an exciting new build project due to be launched in early 2025, so you may want to get your notes app out:

What do you look for on a Greenies CV if they have no yachting experience? Life experience! Have they lived away from home (boarding school, university, etc.)? Have they travelled or worked away from home? Huge tell-tales for how they’ll fit into a crew and whether or not they’re likely to “go wild” with the freedom. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach work ethic and attitude to work. The right life experience shows this.

What strengths/weaknesses/personality aspects do you look for when interviewing a Greenie? Confidence (as opposed to arrogance), how easy they are to engage with but still maintain professionalism (on time, email etiquette, and communication leading up to and after the interview), ability to listen & interpret questions rather than just blab back something an agent has told them to say. Ability to have a laugh and speak honestly about previous experience and jobs.

Is there something a potential candidate can do or say that will immediately decrease their chances of employment? The biggest thing for me is their location. If they are green and still sitting in South Africa/UK/Aus whilst looking for work, that shows me the sort of effort and sacrifice they’re willing to make to get a job. Getting over to Antibes or another hotspot is expensive, but it sets you apart from the rest, in my opinion. Also, when they ask about the crew and package straight away in an interview before chatting and warming up – it shows me that is all they are interested in, not the actual job itself. 

Can you give any tips to greenies trying to stand out or any advice in general to them? You are green – we know that already, which is why you are being interviewed for the junior position (likely). Don’t make your five-year plan “to become a chief stewardess” when chances are, you don’t even know what the role entails yet. Be realistic; show us your current self and attributes, what you can bring to the table, rather than the stock standard answers you think we want to hear. Upsell your land-based/transferable skills- sewing, IT skills, experience working night shifts/rota work, etc.  Pay attention to how you apply – read carefully if the job requests a cover letter or certain requirements. The number of times I have requested a cover letter, for example, “Sous Chef for private MY”, and received a cover letter stating how they are looking for a busy charter program, is crazy. Instantly, it makes me dismiss the candidate as I can tell they have sent out generic letters and not taken the time to read the advert and consider if it is a good fit.

Next up we turned to an incredible Chief Stewardess, who has been in the industry for 5 years and held the Chief Stewardess role for over a year. Having worked on prestigious yachts ranging from 46 – 65m, she is currently employed on a world-travelling vessel that spends most of its time off the beaten track. Because of this, crew dynamics and finding the right fit in recruitment is SO important to her, and here is what she had to say:

What do you look for on a Greenies CV if they have no yachting experience? This may differ from the norm, but I enjoy seeing 2 or 3 pictures at the end of someone’s CV or as a cover letter attachment. Social media accounts are often made private, and while a professional CV photo is vital, it doesn’t showcase much personality. Adding photos showcases a bit more about who you are. CVs often seem very uniform and say the same things, starting with the same objective line, etc., these days. Editing your bio to keep it professional but demonstrate some quirkyness or something different from the rest, showing a bit more about who you are, is so important. Many people are getting CVs written for them these days, which is completely fine, but remember to add your personality to it too, or it will just become part of a pile. 

⁠What strengths/weaknesses/personality aspects do you look for when interviewing a Greenie? I always ask questions like “How do you deal with conflict?”, “Do you get mentally or physically overwhelmed, and how do you deal with it?” and “What do you enjoy doing in your spare time/after work?”. Being open and honest and answering these questions gives an honest opinion of who you are and if you will fit in with the crew dynamics. Don’t say what you think I want to hear; say what is real. Having some conversation in an interview and not making it feel ‘clinical’ from the get-go – just talking about skills, experience, salary, etc. is detrimental to the flow of conversation, and not only for myself to get a feel of if you are the right candidate, but for you to get a feel if this is the right boat and programme for you.

Is there something a potential candidate can do or say that will immediately decrease their chances of employment? When hiring a greenie, I tend to first employ them on a trial basis to ensure they are the right fit for the owner, crew, and overall vessel. During this time, I enjoy seeing someone with a good balance of being willing to learn and also taking initiative. Rolling eyes and talking over me (even if it comes from the point of being eager) is a big red flag! I enjoy honest candidates, as many people often lack transparency, and at the end of the day, personality plays a big part in fitting in with the crew and being able to make a boat a home as well as a job. 

Can you give any tips to greenies trying to stand out or any advice in general to Greenies? My biggest one is to be genuine. People are being told so many ‘do’s and don’ts’ these days, and it’s coming off in generic CVs and textbook answers in interviews that are all the same. We know that you don’t have any yachting experience, so sell yourself on your personality! Also, make sure that you check with your written references that it is okay to 1. Have them on your CV, and 2. They are happy to give you a good reference. You’d be surprised how many written references are shining, but verbal references say otherwise.

Lastly, this superstar Chief Stewardess is someone who I have had the pleasure of working with while I was in the industry. She has 7 years of experience, having very quickly climbed the ladder and 5 of those years being spent in the role of Chief Stewardess. She is currently involved in an amazing new build operation, and she is no stranger to recruitment, which is why her advice is incredibly valuable:

What do you look for on a Greenies CV, if they have no yachting experience? I first look at the general layout, wording, and (professional) picture on their CV. It may sound superficial, but I believe that if you can’t care for something as important as your CV, how am I to expect you’ll care for a luxury yacht? Then, I look for any land-based experience they have in either hospitality or similar to ensure they have work experience and are used to working in a fast-paced environment. Any other skills and qualities they have are always a bonus. Lastly, I always check verbal references; these are so important!

⁠What strengths/weaknesses/personality aspects do you look for when interviewing a Greenie? I always prefer to have a casual chat with the candidate first before diving headfirst into the interview. I know how stressful it can be on the other side of the phone, and I’d like to make sure the person I’m interviewing is comfortable and has social skills. Often, from the flow of this chat I usually already know if the interviewee will fit in with the current crew and Interior team. Confidence without being cocky is important, and honest answers are a must. If they don’t know the answer to a topic, I’d rather have them tell me honestly so we can work on it if we proceed with the employment.

Is there something a potential candidate can do or say that will immediately decrease their chances of employment? Candidates with a whole wish list of unrealistic demands straight off the bat, often rotation and remuneration-based. We all started from the bottom, often from a 38-day leave per annum, and now I’ve unfortunately had plenty of green crew straight up asking for a time-for-time rotation with a basic Chief Stew salary. One of my pet peeves is when candidates do not allow me to speak/finish my sentences! The last very important point is when candidates do not look representable during the video interview. Take off your sunnies/headwear etc., and look for a quiet place with a stable internet connection for the interview.

Can you give any tips to greenies trying to stand out or any advice in general to Greenies? Be yourself, relax, and be honest! Also, clean up your Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and any other social media that you have. If I can find you on these accounts (and believe me, I always find a way!), then guests sure can too.

Final Thoughts

What can we gather from the above? First, it is SO important to understand the multi-billion dollar industry you are joining and the calibre of clientele you will be working for. While simultaneously travelling the world and working may appear attractive, an aspect of long hours and a high workload may seem less likeable to some. Ensure you are well-versed in what is expected of you and ready to get your hands dirty while working onboard.

Remember, the yachting industry is as much about people as it is about the yachts. Your attitude, enthusiasm, and authenticity can set you apart from the sea of applicants. So, stay determined and confident, and most importantly, remain true to yourself, and before you know it, you’ll be landing your dream position! 

Good luck, greenies! You have SUCH an exciting adventure that awaits you.

Chloe Leo

Originally from South Africa, Chloe began her yachting career in 2018 after completing her university education and obtaining her degrees in Economics, and Human Kinetics and Ergonomics (Hons). After six adventurous years at sea, she has traded sea for land, now calling the beautiful island of Mallorca home.

Chloe now works for TYS Recruitment as a recruitment agent, and her passion for the industry and excellent people skills shine through in all her interactions and create a perfect blend of professionalism and relatability. Beyond work, Chloe loves outdoor activities, especially golf and cycling, and although she has hung up her stewardess badge, she still enjoys travelling the world whenever she can.

3 thoughts on “Breaking into Yachting: Tips for Greenies to Land Their First Gig”

  1. So beautifully written Chloe. Every point and opinion here is so spot on and provides such great insight from differing perspectives.

  2. This is such a great article full of some really great advice. The industry is becoming more and more difficult to break into and this advice will most certainly help in giving yourself that crucial edge to hopefully succeed! Great work on this Chloe! 🙏

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