As a maritime recruitment company we know that the average employee changes their job every four to five years. In fact younger staff will likely switch employment every three years. That’s not a long time to stay with a company that has invested in the recruitment and training of new hires in their sea careers.
So the question is not only how to attract top talent to your company, but also how to then retain them?
How to develop a talent strategy in maritime recruitment
But surely this state of flux can benefit companies who are constantly on the lookout for talented staff and contractors? That all depends on the recruitment process and your goals. In an ideal world you need to be finding (and keeping) skilled seafarers, not just filling open crewing positions.
Posting adverts for seafarer jobs and sitting back and waiting for a so-called rock star to drop in your lap is neither efficient or very likely to happen.
These days maritime recruitment demands proactivity, adaptability and creativity.
For a start working with a recruitment agency, in particular a specialist maritime recruitment agency, is a good option. A professional recruitment firm in the shipping industry will know exactly what you need in terms of people genuinely wanting to develop their sea careers - and how to source them.
But for your part, as a shipowner or manager, you also need to make sure that your organization is attractive to candidates and potential contractors.
Establish what you want and give yourself the best chance of getting it
Assess your current talent strategy
What kind of shape is your current talent strategy in? What’s that you say? You don’t have one? It’s time to focus and develop one: after all, your business is only as good as its people.
Your first step is to determine what you want every rank and role within your shipping company to do and how you want crew to perform. This means creating maritime job descriptions and then applying them to each position and seeing how your ratings and officers match up to your expectations.
This will help you assess your current situation and also define exactly what you expect from new recruits. The benefit of this for you as a shipowner or manager is that both crew members and staff in shore based maritime jobs are more engaged when they’re employed in a position that utilizes their strengths - and therefore more likely to remain committed to your company.
Know who you want to hire
So you’ve created a strategy that tells you exactly who you need to hire and now it’s time to get out there and recruit those candidates. But how can you be sure you’re sourcing, interviewing and ultimately hiring the right person for the job? You need to hone in on the traits that applicants possess, the experience they’ve had, and the seafaring qualifications and documents they hold.
You have to make sure this person is fundamentally suited to a life at sea.
A good start is to ask the crew members or employees who will potentially be working with a new hire what they see as being valuable attributes for the job. Are there skills missing in a certain department that you should be looking for? This is crucial especially if you’re recruiting for higher ranking positions.
You could also compare a current crew member you think highly of who is working in the same or a similar role to a seafarer job you’re recruiting for: what makes them so good at their job? Which of their characteristics would you like to see a new hire have?
This might sound a little unorthodox but it can serve as a useful yardstick by which you can measure prospective contractors for your maritime jobs.
Now we’ve established the basics it’s time to make sure that your shipping company is attracting the candidates you want by presenting yourself in the best light possible.
And to do that you need to learn how to attract top talent. Let's take a look.
Good old fashioned word of mouth
Maritime job boards and specialist recruitment agencies for the shipping industry are two great ways of sourcing and recruiting top candidates. However, your existing employees and crew members can also be a valuable source of talent through referrals.
The very nature of the shipping industry means that the average crew member meets numerous prospective hires so make sure your company is a place that your people are proud to be ambassadors of.
To make employee or contractor referrals a viable source of talent, you need to establish a culture within your company that encourages and rewards it. Simply crossing your fingers and hoping your people tell their friends and acquaintances that your organization is a great place to work isn’t enough. You need to make it happen for you by establishing a referral program that means something to your crew.
Put plainly, they will want to be incentivized!
How you make this happen is up to you and that means setting the rules for your referral program. Do you want contractors or employees to simply tell people you're hiring? Or do you want them to advertise your seafarer jobs by promoting your jobs on their social media profiles?
And how are you going to reward them for each applicant they put forward and who is ultimately hired?
You need to shine online
It is absolutely crucial that your shipping company's presence shows you in the best light possible. You know how you feel when you seek out an organization online and their website is out of date, littered with adverts and awkward to use? It’s disappointing and annoying and you usually don’t revisit it!
Don’t let your candidates and potential recruits feel the same! Ensure that your website is mobile responsive (i.e. it works equally well on a smartphone or tablet as it does on a computer) and that all information from your contact details, to explanations of your services, to your blog are up to date.
Prospective candidates are also likely to hunt you down on social media. Therefore you need to be maintaining active profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Make sure your company’s website also links to these accounts.
It might sound trivial but these days social media is more than just a place to catch up with friends, post memes and sound off about the issues of the day.
For example, at Martide, our Facebook account is where countless seafarers go to find new maritime jobs and contracts. In addition, potential crew members and shore-based employees alike want to know that the company they’re considering working for is switched on and technologically adept.
Don’t believe us? Just take a look at what the younger generation of seafarers are demanding of their employers!
Provide a great candidate experience
If you want to attract top talent to your open seafarer jobs and vacant crewing positions you need to be impressing your applicants. That means everything from your job adverts to the maritime recruitment agency you choose to work with to your entire recruitment process needs to be designed to have an enticing effect on your possible hires.
And candidates need to be made to feel welcome and like an individual, not just another in a long list of recruits, whether the interview takes place in person or over Skype.
It may feel a little at odds with your role as an employer. You want to encourage their sea careers, but surely you shouldn’t be pandering to candidates?! Shouldn’t they instead be jumping at the chance to work for you?
The fact is, in these times of a skills shortage and with the increasing demands of the technologically-sophisticated up-and-coming generation of workers, employers need to up the ante if they want to attract top talent in the shipping industry.
Martide helps you source qualified seafarers
There’s no denying that even in this climate where a dwindling talent pool is having an impact on most shipping companies, there are dedicated, skilled, qualified and enthusiastic seafarers out there. It can just be tricky to find them in the current competitive market.
By following the tips in this article you’ll increase your chances of sourcing the right people for your crewing vacancies.
And if you really want to be assured of finding seafarers with a history of excellence, you should talk to Martide about our maritime recruitment software solution. We’ll help you do everything from managing interviews to applicant tracking and will finally take the stress out of finding top talent in this niche industry!