Are you a small to medium sized shipowner or manager who is tearing your hair out over trying to find enough suitable seafarers in your candidate database to fill your vacant jobs at sea? We’d love to be able to tell you that there’s a quick fix solution to this but unfortunately there isn’t.
However the good news is that there are some sure-fire ways for you to make that never-ending recruitment drive way less painful.
And that means laying down the foundation for a solid maritime recruitment strategy that covers all of the bases - and then tackling the issue head on! But if you’re not even sure where to get started, read on as Martide takes an in-depth look at how to overcome the challenges faced by shipping companies when it comes to seaman recruitment in the maritime industry.
The ultimate guide to growing your maritime candidate database
There are a number of different ways to recruit both seafarers, offshore staff, and employees who work in your shore based maritime jobs. That’s a given and in fact it’s virtually the same in any industry. But most of the shipping sector doesn’t consist of normal 9 to 5 jobs and an empty seafarer job vacancy really shouldn’t be treated as ‘just another position’ when it comes to recruitment.
You only have to look at the mind boggling variables of seafarer contracts to know what we mean. The sheer amount of people, teams and entities involved with hiring crew members can make the maritime recruitment process a whole lot more stressful than your average hire.
Willing cooperation among all of the different parties is key and a successful hire will rely heavily on this. Even more so, creating a smooth and stress free candidate experience from the start can also have a big effect on your organization’s contractor, employee and crew retention further down the line.
It’s the classic domino effect: Better crew retention leads to less time and money being spent on acquiring new recruits to populate your candidate database.
But back to that complex recruitment process: From permutations of contracts, frantic time frames and convoluted travel arrangements to making sure the shipowner, ship management company, manning agent and, of course, the seafarers themselves, are kept happy and satisfied is no mean feat!
That’s why we’ll tell you later on how Martide can help you eliminate that stress for good with just a few clicks of your mouse!
But as we mentioned a couple of paragraphs above, for your maritime recruitment strategy to stand the greatest chance of success, you should approach it from a number of different angles.
We’ll now take a look at the ways you can fill your jobs at sea using five various methods and then tell you why an applicant tracking crewing system can help pull your recruitment game plan together into one cohesive blueprint for success.
Handy hint: Each of these tips expand into more in-depth articles so if you’d like to know any more about a given subject, click on the headlines to read more!
Your maritime recruitment drive isn’t going anywhere if you don’t start off by writing adverts for your jobs at sea that are approaching their change over date. Don’t let your efforts stall from the get go. Get those job ads out there and in front of the people that matter: i.e. the seafarers who are looking for their next contract at sea.
But all job adverts are not created equal. You need yours to be concise, attractive and informative. That’s not too much to ask is it?! But the problem is that you may be dealing with an unknown quantity.
We’re talking about Generation Z, and, to a lesser extent, Millennials.
For these two groups, simply finding a job or a contract is no longer enough. These two age groups demand more and they want to ensure that the salary they receive is competitive within their respective job market.
Gen Z and Millennials are also asking for greater benefits - indeed, these are seen as almost, if not quite as, crucial as the payment they receive. We’re talking about insurance, paid sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, and more. And while this may not be relevant to you, the fact that this demographic is also demanding more from their living conditions onboard a vessel might well be.
And we’re sure you can guess what that means: yes, it means access onboard to a stable WiFi connection and also a gym.
The point we’re making is that you want to attract the best caliber of candidate in an industry that can often struggle to find qualified, hard-working and dedicated seafarers. Therefore, to fill your jobs at sea, you need to shout about your perks and benefits if you want to break through the noise created by your competitors.
It’s a crowded marketplace and to win top talent over all of the other shipowners and ship managers out there, your job adverts for seafarers need to stand out. We’ll tell you more about how to achieve that in our next article in this series.
Social media: do you love it, hate it or do you perhaps merely tolerate it as one of the necessary evils of modern life? Whichever side of the fence you’re on, there’s no denying that websites like Twitter and Facebook (which recently rebranded itself as FACEBOOK to distinguish Facebook the Platform from Facebook the Company...got that?) have changed the way many of us consume our news and entertainment.
And that also includes changing the way we look for vacancies - and in your case as a shipowner or ship manager, changing the way you find candidates for your jobs at sea.
For example, it is highly unlikely you’re going to be able to man a vessel by trawling Pinterest or Snapchat. But LinkedIn (unsurprisingly) and even the aforementioned Twitter and Facebook - sorry, FACEBOOK - can be rich, often untapped, sources for finding candidates.
Read more: Make Seafarer Sourcing a Breeze with Martide
You just need to know the approach to take and be able to read a potential candidate’s profile. Looking at a seafarer profile is in itself is another way that using social media to fill jobs at sea can be beneficial to the busy shipowner or maritime recruitment agencies.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words and just a quick look at the photos on a seafarer’s profile should be able to tell you if they’re a suitable hire for your shipping company or not. Are their pictures all of them partying hard and acting the clown? It could be a warning sign.
Of course, you should exercise a little caution here and not write a candidate off immediately. Maybe they’re young, free and single and like to have a good time during the period they’re back on shore. There’s nothing wrong with that - but if ALL of their photos are of wild nights and crazy days you might want to dig a little deeper into their profile. Or even look elsewhere.
The same goes with posts, status updates and tweets. What kind of message is your prospective recruit putting out into the world? We’re all entitled to our views but if there’s any hint of an angry, aggressive or intolerant personality hiding behind that keyboard, you might want to think twice about signing off on that four month contract.
Have you ever wondered if a job fair would be a viable place to find new recruits for your small to medium sized shipping company’s candidate database? Maybe you’re wondering if the cost of hiring a booth is going to give you anything back on your investment.
Sorry to say, there’s no simple answer to that...unless you count “you won’t know until you try!”
Finding qualified seafarers aside, one of the other plus points about attending a maritime job fair - or even a regular job fair at, say, a university - is that it will increase your visibility in the shipping industry. Both to established seafarers and new recruits fresh out of an academy - and to other (rival?) shipowners and managers.
It gets your name and company, and jobs in front of possible candidates and hires - and also tells the competition you’re a player in the industry. Plus, without being too sneaky about it, it will give you a golden opportunity to meet and network with your competitors and possibly even find out more about them and their recruitment strategies too!
The one key point about attending a job fair is that you need to choose who mans your booth carefully. What you don’t want is employees who are there because they see it as an opportunity to slack off and get a day out of the office!
You need real brand advocates. Those people who genuinely enjoy working for your company and whose positive attitude is infectious enough to motivate visitors to your stand to register or leave their details with you.
It can be easy to dismiss a job fair as an expense that may not provide a return on investment but the bottom line is, it is a rare opportunity to get your company, brand and vacant entry level jobs at sea in front of a captive audience who are keen enough on the idea of a career in the maritime industry to attend a job fair in the first place.
Some small to medium sized shipping companies choose to work with one or more manning agents to help them fill their seafarer job vacancies. Others prefer to work with a maritime recruitment and crew management agency such as Martide, and yet others still keep their crewing operations in-house.
There’s no right and wrong answer: it really is up to your shipping company as to which method is right for you.
There can be pros and cons to working and collaborating with a manning agent as there can also be when deciding to go it alone. For example, a manning agency will need to be audited on a yearly basis to ensure that they are adhering to the regulations surrounding the provision of seafarers for jobs at sea.
That’s all well and good, and indeed, an absolute must in an industry where safety and adherence to rules and regulations could literally mean the difference between life and death. The issue is, it is a costly and time consuming practice.
To counteract that, at Martide we work closely with shipowners and ship managers who have their preferred manning agencies to work with. So as part of our service, we’ve taken the hassle and expense out of auditing their manning agents for them by taking the responsibility upon ourselves.
Meanwhile, on the plus side, if you decide to work with a manning agency, it can give you global reach by getting your vacant jobs at sea in front of far greater numbers of seafarers who are looking for contracts than you may have access to yourself. Thus helping to add significantly more seafarer profiles to your candidate database.
Martide have created an Approved Partner Network consisting of manning agencies in the maritime industry who we have personally invited to join us due to their excellence in providing qualified crew to our clients in the shipping industry.
This gives shipping companies more scope to choose from a wider range of seafarer profiles while taking away the uncertainty of working with an unknown provider.
It’s a win win situation for both you as an employer and for the seafarer!
At Martide we know how tough it can be to consistently fill your jobs at sea with qualified seafarers in good time for your change over dates. That’s why we developed our recruitment and management crewing Software as a Service to help small and medium sized shipping companies like yours say goodbye to the challenges of manning your vessels.
It can even help you boost your crew retention rates too.
We work with a number of prestigious clients in the shipping industry and do our best to provide them with crew ranging from masters and chief officers to oilers, fitters and deck cadets. We even work with crew members who are excavator drivers or who have experience in working with LNG fuel and dual fuel powered ships.
Of course we’d love to work with you too but we know you have a choice when it comes to finding and selecting a maritime recruitment agency to work with. And even though it might seem counter intuitive, we also advocate that you pick just one recruiter to help you grow your candidate database and find seafarers: it can be tempting to farm out your vacant positions to a number of recruiters but you’ll be spreading yourself too thinly.
Do your research, choose a recruiter, and stick with them, at least until after a predetermined period so that you know whether the relationship is working or not. If the hiring company you’re working with isn’t pulling out all the stops to fill your jobs at sea then it could be time to move on.
But by staying faithful to one dedicated and proactive recruitment agency you’ll be assured of their commitment to your cause - i.e. finding seafarers for your candidate database and finding them quickly!
You should also choose to work with a specialist in the maritime industry as opposed to a generic job website or recruitment agency, no matter how big, powerful or well known they are.
After all, time is often of the essence in the maritime industry and you need to be dealing with a company who understands the urgency of change over dates, and the time frames in which their staff have to operate within.
Working with a maritime recruitment agency who understands the intricacies of seafarer contracts, the difficulties of staying connected with contractors and seafarers while they’re thousands of miles from land, and the absolute must of ensuring certificates, documents and qualifications are correct and valid is crucial.
Plus, of course, you’ll streamline your recruitment processes and limit the amount of people you need to deal with, all while reducing your time to hire. What could be better than that?!
You’ve no doubt heard of crewing systems, applicant tracking systems, or ATS as they’re often abbreviated to. But what actually are they? What do they do? How do applicant tracking systems work? And, more importantly, how can they help you alleviate the stresses and strains caused by constantly worrying about finding enough crew for your candidate database?
It’s possible you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution in your shipping company. If so, think of a crewing system as being something similar, but built and designed for monitoring and tracking recruitment processes instead.
At its simplest, an applicant tracking system is a crewing software program that helps an organization handle its recruitment processes more efficiently through the use of technology. It’s an online solution to the difficulties of ensuring that each and every part of an application and subsequent hire are taken care of.
You need to have checked all the boxes before it comes to signing off on a contract and you don’t need us to tell you that recruiting in the maritime industry comes with certain headaches.
Variable contract lengths, ensuring documentation, visas and seaman’s books are correct and valid, the coordination and booking of flights for seafarers, and making sure change over dates are met all need absolute attention to detail.
And that’s even without taking care of the regular nuts and bolts of hiring a contractor or employee such as checking their skills, work experience and qualifications are all in order.
Because there are all these different aspects of maritime recruitment, collaboration between different people is normally vital. A crewing system or ATS can take care of that by centralizing all the information pertaining to a candidate and their application.
The other great thing about an applicant tracking crewing system (such as Martide’s ATS for example!) is that they can be used to automatically filter candidates depending on the criteria selected by you - the shipowner or manager.
Looking for an Able Seaman with a visa for the United States? Need a Chief Officer with certain levels of certification? Tell the system and it will only show you seafarers from our global candidate database that match your requirements.
A good crewing system comes into its own when you’ve employed an effective recruitment strategy - using one or more of the methods outlined in this article - and then have a rich talent pool of seafarers to choose from.
Stop struggling for survival - start growing that candidate database now!
If you’re barely keeping your head above water when it comes to filling your jobs at sea in a timely fashion, it’s time to start taking your recruitment drive seriously. After all, minimum safe manning regulations aren’t going anywhere and you can’t afford to be short of crew on your vessels.
We hope that one or all of the above tips will get you on the right track to success but if you’d like to know more about how Martide can help you find qualified seafarers through our maritime recruitment and management crewing software solution, let’s talk.
And don’t forget that each one of the above points has its own dedicated article which explores the solution in more detail. Click on the titles to check out more!
From our job adverts which we advertise on our website, our mobile app that has been specially designed for seafarers to use when they’re on the move, to our social media accounts; your vacant jobs at sea are never far from the people who matter.
Martide: connecting shipowners and seafarers
Martide is a rapidly growing maritime recruitment agency operating from offices located across the globe including in Hong Kong, Odessa and Manila.
Our aim is to shake up the traditional methods that many shipowners and managers use to recruit seafarers. But - and here’s the but - without the need for you to change your existing processes.
This is about enhancing what you already have to work with by combining it with our solution and creating something far, far better!
It’s all about connection: connecting you the shipowner with qualified seafarers to grow your candidate database and fill your jobs at sea. Our people are dedicated while our crewing Software as a Service is a multifaceted platform that gives you the tools you need to effectively manage multiple hiring pipelines.
Martide's organized seafarer profiles, structured interviews, tools for team collaboration, messaging system, negotiation and evaluation tools, and full reporting suite give you the information you need to make the right hiring choice all within a shorter time frame than traditional recruitment methods allow for.
Want to know more about how Martide can help you fill those empty jobs at sea?
Contact us now to arrange your free, no strings attached demo!
Next article in this series: Write Eye-Catching Seafarer Job Ads and Grow Your Candidate Database