Maritime Recruitment: Ultimate Guide to Filling Jobs at Sea

Nov 01, 2022 · 36 mins read ·

Maritime Recruitment
neon sign saying ultimate

Are you a small to medium sized shipowner, crew operator, maritime recruitment officer or ship manager who is fed up with tearing your hair out over the stresses of trying to fill your vacant jobs at sea?

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.

How to make maritime recruitment easier and fill your seafarer jobs quicker

There are a number of different ways to recruit both seafarers, offshore staff, and employees who work in your maritime jobs ashore. 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 seafaring position really shouldn’t be treated as ‘just another job vacancy’ 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 ability to retain crew, contractors and employees further down the line.

The word 'flow' in giant colorful letters

It’s the classic domino effect: Better crew retention leads to less time and money being spent on acquiring new recruits.

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!

But as we mentioned a couple of paragraphs above, for your maritime recruitment strategy in the shipping industry 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.

1. How to write eye-catching adverts to fill your jobs at sea

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.

Group of young people sitting in deckchairs, chatting and using a laptop

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 Wi-Fi 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 conscientious 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 here.

Person holding a sign saying 'be so good they can't ignore you'

2. How to leverage social media to fill your seafarer jobs

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 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, crew operator, maritime recruitment officer, or ship manager, changing the way you find candidates for your jobs at sea.

Of course there are pros to using social media platforms to find qualified seafarers - just as there are cons. Just as some websites work better than others in a recruitment drive.

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 - can be rich, often untapped, sources for finding candidates.

neon green thumbs up and red thumbs down symbols

You just need to know the approach to take and be able to read a potential candidate’s profile. Looking at applicant profiles is another way that using social media to fill jobs at sea can be beneficial to the busy shipowner or maritime recruiter.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and just a quick look at the photos on a user’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.

Person wearing a panda head sitting on the sidewalk clutching an empty bottle of alcohol

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 six month contract.

3. Find candidates at maritime recruitment job fairs

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? 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.

Students at a careers fair

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.

Turquoise neon sign saying 'do what you love'

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, your brand and your 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.

4. Work with a manning agent to fill your seafarer vacancies

Some small to medium sized shipping companies choose to work with one or more manning agents to help them fill their vacant crewing jobs.

Others prefer to work with a maritime recruitment and crew planning software solution such as Martide, and yet others still keep their crewing operations in-house.

There’s no right or wrong direction to take: It really is up to your shipping company as to which is right for you.

A hand holding a compass out over the ocean

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 crew 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.

A telescope pointing at the ocean

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 seafarers 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!

5. Use a maritime recruitment software solution to fill jobs

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 crew planning Software as a Service to help small and medium sized shipping companies like yours say goodbye to the challenges of manning your vessels.

Screenshot of Martide's maritime recruitment and maritime crew management system website

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 solution to work with.

And even though it might seem counter intuitive, we also advocate that you pick just one provider to help you find your 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 solution, and stick with it, at least until after a predetermined period so that you know whether the relationship is working or not. If the 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.

A broken heart and the words 'game over' on a chalkboard

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 jobs at sea 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 company that understands the intricacies of maritime 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?!

Pink neon sign resting in foliage saying 'and breathe'

Start filling those seafarer job vacancies right 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 maritime 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 crew planning software solution, let’s talk.

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.

A Martide maritime jobs site advert showing smartphones with seafarer jobs on the screens

We’ve also built a community of seafarers who like to keep up with our blog posts, maritime industry news and of course, vacant positions on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Plus as we mentioned earlier, we work with an international selection of audited and professional manning agents to expose your seafaring vacancies to a far wider selection of global candidates.

Want to know more about how Martide can help you fill your empty jobs at sea? Contact us now to arrange your free, no strings attached demo!

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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