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Our editorial staff regularly interviews cruise line hiring managers as well as third party hiring partners and concessions that serve cruise lines. Through these Q&A interviews we truly unveil "how to get a cruise job."
CruiseJobFinder interviewed a representative of Zest Recruitment, which is an official hiring partner for several major cruise lines. This is Part I of II. Get more information on cruise line applicant screening in Part II.
Please describe what your company does for cruise lines?
Zest Recruitment sources manpower for its clients. Our role varies greatly across the different cruise lines and in addition to locating suitable talent we also screen the potential candidates to a point where some cruise lines will employ them, or at least to a level where they will be interviewed by a Cruise line representative to make a hiring decision.
In addition to screening and interviewing, a large part of the Zest Recruitment role is informing potential Cruise Line employees of the realities of shipboard life. This includes ensuring that they understand the challenges they will face once they take up a shipboard assignment as well as the hours they will be expected to work. We also discuss salary, living arrangements, uniform and grooming requirements, safety, shipboard structure and a whole host of other extremely important and detailed information. There is a lot for new cruise line employees to learn before they even get to their assigned vessel.
Over recent years there has been a large increase of the number of ships that Zest Recruitment supplies to. To help us source the talent required to manage this growth we have created a training arm to give potential new employees the skills required to be successful in the cruise line careers. This has been particularly successful in countries where English Language skills are challenging, such as China.
What types of jobs do you recruit for? Is there a particular department or role?
Zest Recruitment recruits mainly hotel positions. These range from very junior positions requiring a lower skills level such as Galley Cleaners and Public Area Cleaners to very senior, highly skilled areas such as Travelling Pastry chefs, Food and Beverage Managers and technical staff for the theatres. Some of the more interesting areas we recruit for would include children's activities staff, casino staff and specialist positions like sommeliers.
Are some types of jobs more difficult to fill than others?
The most challenging of these are the senior galley positions. This is due to many factors including the depressed value of the US dollar, family commitments that perhaps more junior employees don't yet have, as well as increases in the number of international hotels opening in our operating areas.
Do you only work with candidates who are of a certain nationality or living in certain geographic areas?
Because we work in a large geographical area we accept applications from a range of nationalities. In the past we have placed Indian nationals who were residing in New Zealand, Nepalese from Singapore and within Australia a range of different nationalities including British, Brazilian, Canadian and American.
What services do you offer the people who apply through your company?
Cruise line companies all tend to operate in a similar, yet distinctly different way. We tailor our services to the needs of each cruise line company to reflect their needs. For some companies we look after the needs of the employees when they are at home and this can include ensuring they update their medicals, visas and other requirements.
Describe your perfect candidate.
The perfect candidate is a myth. There is always a difference between what the cruise ship companies require and the candidate's skills, abilities, personality and desires. That does not mean that there are not some great candidates.
Great candidates are easy to spot. They have a very positive, outgoing personality. Within their working background it is easy to discern that they have planned their careers and have taken the time to obtain new skills as they progress in their chosen field. Great candidates also do the small things well. They arrive for interviews on time, their grooming is impeccable and they see filling out the myriad of forms required as just another step closer to achieving their goal of working at sea.
First impressions are incredibly important. At Zest Recruitment the first impression that we receive is usually the resume. When we receive a candidate's resume we are looking for a nice clear font, correct spelling and grammar and accurate dates of employment.
What are the best pieces of advice you would give someone who's starting to look for their first job on a cruise ship?
Find out as much about the cruise line industry as you can. Research the different companies and find the one you think will best meet your career needs and goals.
What are the typical terms of employment offered?
This question is difficult to answer with specifics and the cruise line companies that Zest Recruitment partners with would also see some of that as proprietary information. So what I will do is offer some industry generalizations.
Contract lengths vary and the longest contracts can be up to ten months although the majority are six to eight months in length. Shorter contracts exist for more senior positions and these can be three to four months long.
For the duration of their contract an employee can typically expect to work 10 hours per day (often longer, depending upon the department they work in) each day they are onboard. This does mean they will not get a day off for up to ten months.
Other tips and advice given in this exclusive interview: