Expert yacht crew recruiter and Head of our Engineering Department, Jacqui Young, has been placing skilled crew on some of the world's most luxurious superyachts for more than a decade. Her job requires diplomacy, perseverance, and the willingness to succeed, even when things don't seem to go her way.
Meet the person who is in charge of all of our Engineering placements going smoothly.
1. What does your typical day look like working in superyacht recruitment as a yacht crew recruiter?
It's very hard to describe a 'typical' day as a superyacht recruiter as no 2 days are the same. For someone who is very organised and likes to plan, I accept that as much as I start my day with the intention of doing x y and z, the phone will ring with a job request and all priorities change instantly. Varied for sure and one has to master the art of juggling and manage constant interruptions. Patience is a virtue!
Every day is a mixture of:
Candidates - interviewing new candidates, offering CV advice, career advice, interview techniques, listening to their goals, explaining licence requirements, taking background checks, building relationships and championing them for the right jobs to progress with their careers for the long-term.
Clients - discussing new briefs in detail to understand exactly what is they are looking for so I can take their pain away and give them their precious time back. It's my job to refine the selection to hand pick a very small selection of the best candidates in the market who they will want to interview. I'm an active listener and have built the trust and respect from many key clients over the years which is why they only require a small selection of the 'right' candidates for their yacht.
2. Does this change with the seasons?
Some departments do have seasonal trends for recruitment and we see it with more junior engineer positions but the Engineering Department is very consistent throughout the year – the machine never stops!
3. What are your main responsibilities as a Head of Department and what kind of tasks or projects do you work on?
As with all managers, I am also responsible for managing a team, keeping them motivated, focussed, help with challenging situations and so on. To be fair, that is the easiest part of my job as I can honestly say I have the best recruiters working in my team!
4. Are you involved in any other areas of the company or the wider yachting industry?
I spend a lot of time researching/analysing the market place to understand key trends as many clients (and candidates) come to me for advice regarding team structure depending on the size of yacht, salaries to attract the right calibre of candidates, bonus/incentives schemes to retain their crew etc.
I also like to visit clients during the new build construction phase as this gives a great insight to understand the different challenges they face. We can then tailor the selections for the candidates we recommend for the rest of the engineering team we place with them later.
Attending Yacht Shows, METS, Super Yacht Forum, seminars and various events is a great way to network and see clients face to face as we so often work remotely.
I have a good relationship with the key training schools and visit when possible to keep up to date with training courses available to crew. Likewise, I keep in touch with the MCA and PYA to stay informed on any changes to regulations/licences which we can then advise our clients and candidates.
5. What sort of background or prior work experience do you need/are helpful for a job in superyacht recruitment? Are there any key skills that are necessary or helpful?
I have often been asked if I used to be crew on board a yacht or an engineer and my answer is simply 'no'. I have the utmost respect for engineers as they are experts in their field but it doesn't make them the ideal choice for recruitment as I wouldn't be the ideal choice as an engineer.
Naturally, if one has a background in recruitment from any other industry then it is very relevant. I have a corporate background prior to yachting which has also been an asset but if you have strong negotiation skills, are an active listener, a strong networker, organised, efficient, have the ability to multi-task, prioritise and have the determination to succeed then this could be the career for you. Regardless of your background.
6. What personality traits do you think are necessary or helpful for a yacht crew recruiter?
Without question, the Human Element is key and you have to be a 'people's person', be passionate about what you do, genuinely care, have confidence, conviction and tenacity. You have somebody's career/dreams in your hands and you can literally change their lives but you have to convince your client that you have the best candidate for the job and equally, convince your candidate that this is the best position for them. Sending 200 CVs for a job is not recruitment, investing time and energy in your candidates and clients to find the best solution is. Quality, not quantity will give your client value for money and will often lead to exclusivity.
7. What tips and advice would you give to someone starting out in superyacht recruitment?
Be honest with yourself. Your day is spent constantly negotiating, solving problems, finding solutions with very tight time restraints. You can work relentlessly for days/weeks and not get any recognition or reward so you need the ability to not take it personally and take on the next task with the same enthusiasm and commitment as the previous one. It's a very challenging job and it's not for everyone. But if you are confident, love a challenge and are driven to succeed, I cannot recommend this career highly enough. This is a highly competitive environment and not for the feint-hearted but it is also the most rewarding!
8. What are the main challenges of superyacht recruitment?
When the pressure is on, giving every client and candidate the dedicated time they deserve.
Advising clients that whilst you appreciate the type of candidate they want, they may not be available or interested in this type of position. You then have to convince the client to trust you and hire who you believe is right for the job and who genuinely wants it.
Seeing my team work relentlessly hard on challenging briefs to then lose out on a placement for various reasons through no fault of their own (promotion within, hired a friend etc). We all understand that's the nature of the industry but as a manager, I feel their disappointment.
Time management - dealing with many cold enquiries from the commercial/merchant sectors and explaining the market/opportunities to someone who doesn't know the industry.
9. What sort of relationship can clients and candidates expect from their recruiter?
A long-standing relationship build on trust and integrity. Clients should receive the personal touch every time. I have spent years keeping regular communications with both clients and candidates to understand their needs and requirements, building their trust and forming partnerships. I won't waste a client's time presenting candidates who do not meet their requirements and respectfully, I won't waste my candidates' time discussing briefs that are not right for them.
10. What are the highlights of working in and/or your career in superyacht recruitment to date?
Laurence Lewis, President of YPI Crew and I shaking hands in 2006 to join as the Engineer Recruiter. I have had the privilege to be part of the journey/growth of the company and now run my own office/department with the best team of recruiters I could wish for!
Being told "you have made my dreams come true! " when I have coached and championed somebody new to the industry and helped them with their first placement.
14+ years later, working with the same candidates whom I have helped develop their career who are now at the top of their field (Y1/Class I chief engineers) and come to me to place engineers within their departments.
When clients come to YPI Crew exclusively, notably for large new build projects as it is a great opportunity for us to work as a team across our respective departments to select and place our best candidates whom we know will compliment each other perfectly for that client.
11. What do you enjoy most about your job/career? What is the most satisfying aspect of working in this field?
YPI Crew – I work for the best President I have ever worked for in my entire professional career, I have great colleagues and we have a great working environment. The job is highly pressurised but we keep each other's spirits up and most importantly, we know how to laugh! I also love our occasional "Champagne Fridays" (a coupe at the end of the week to celebrate the highs or to rejoice that we've survived another hectic week). I can't wait for covid restrictions to lift and we can all celebrate together again!
I'm good in a crisis! I thrive when the pressure is on and we receive an urgent request and sometimes have to make the impossible, possible. I'll drop everything and keep going until I find a solution. Knowing you have taken the stress away for the client is extremely satisfying and it's a double reward as you have also found a job for a candidate too. It's also very satisfying when a new client has used several agencies, online and social media for several weeks before contacting YPI Crew and I find the Unicorn! They know who to call first next time.
12. How is the work-life balance of a position of a yacht crew recruiter?
You have to be disciplined and efficient to make it work and sometimes have the courage to say 'no'. Or in my case, have an understanding husband who appreciates that dealing with clients all over the world when there is an urgent problem to solve requires flexibility and commitment.
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