Having the right crew on a superyacht is vital to success. We caught up with Liam Dobbin from Wilsonhalligan to discuss Superyacht Recruitment, including the challenges faced when getting the right person for the job.

When was Wilsonhalligan born?

The company started in 2007 and was aimed at being personable, whilst getting away from faceless websites where you did not know the recruiters individually.

How does WH differ from other recruitment agencies?

The previous Owners Wilson and Halligan were focused on making sure that each candidate felt valued and recognised that the deckhand you give 15 minutes to could be a Captain in the future. As the company has grown to one of the biggest yacht recruitment agencies in the world we have continued with this ethos and are always contactable directly by our crew members or clients. Our profiles are all on the website, offering information on our relevant backgrounds along with the department each consultant deals with.

Do you have to work to standards?

Before MLC (Maritime Labour Convention 2006) nothing governed the way crew agencies operated. It is important for crew working on commercial yachts to ensure that any agency they use is certified. We were one of the first to be ISO 9001 accredited for having an audited set of management standards for recruitment. This encompasses everything from data management to dealing with complaints. This followed with us being one of the first MLC certificated companies once the regulation came into play. When using agencies, crew must ask themselves am I confident handing over my personal information to this company?

Where and how do you search for candidates?

Initial searches will be conducted using our own database of registered candidates, therefore it’s vitally important candidates keep their profiles up to date. We use a secure and intuitive recruitment database to ensure it pulls out peoples’ skills and qualifications. We will then also post jobs on our website and job boards if confidentiality allows, we have access to third party databases as needed. Social media also plays a big part in reaching existing and new candidates, some people check their social media feeds more than emails so we reach out in multiple ways.

One of our favourite ways to work is by candidate referrals. If you know someone who is looking for a position do point them in our direction. For higher level positions we are also often asked by clients to headhunt, which usually comes down to contacting candidates we developed a very good relationship with over a number of years

How do you decide who gets employed?

The client ultimately decides who to employ, we introduce them to candidates based on the job specification and provide a detailed brief of who we believe would suit. It is not just a case of matching experience and qualification, we understand the importance of also matching personalities to our clients (whether it is a yacht or company). Acting as a consultancy over a CV forwarding service, we will interview candidates to get to know them and pre-screen specifically for each job. We offer FREE CV advice and coach candidates through the interview process. Where needed we have helped Captains and HOD’s who are hiring on how best to interview crew, ensuring that the process is professional. We work in partnership with the yacht or company to find a candidate who will join and stay. Throughout the process we can also guide clients on average salaries and leave on offer.

Do you face many challenges?

There are a lot of recruitment agencies to choose from, we always recommend to candidates working with three as closely as you can – otherwise it can dilute your CV if you blanket the market with it. Be represented well by the people you trust. Yachting specifically is 24/7 and spread over 24 time zones – contacting crew can be a challenge but with technology of zoom, WhatsApp and email you can stay well connected. The team plan their day around where clients and candidates are and many of the team answer messages out of hours to stay connected.

You seem very passionate about your role, why do you love yacht recruitment?

Even after 10 years now I personally still get a buzz from getting someone a job whether it be their first command or that explorer yacht or family yacht they’ve been wanting. Staying in touch after the placement is rewarding and has built some very long standing relationships. Putting a team together is very rewarding, we are privileged to be involved with the yachts and marine companies we deal with. Ensuring that a candidate blends with all others is a real challenge. Yacht recruitment is unlike all other recruitment due to living and working together in such a small environment, but this is what makes it still very exciting to us all here at WH.

Finally, this can be such a crazy industry, do you have any funny anecdotes or stories of crew/owners with strange requests?

We’ve had some very specific requests in the last few years, but then it’s yachting! A couple that spring to mind include being asked for a Sous Chef that was a master in ice carving and a Mary Poppins style English teacher to be a supernumerary and improve the language skills for a Russian family. We’re often under heavy time constraints to find crew, I got home one Friday night and a Captain called to say he needed a 2nd Officer tomorrow in Greece due to an accident onboard. I knew the Captain well and he said if you cannot find a relief tonight I need you on a plane in the morning as the relief. Several frantic calls and a flurry of emails later we managed to line up mid-season a 2nd Officer to be on a flight that night.

For more information about Wilsonhalligan visit their website www.wilsonhalligan.com

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