Maritime Industry Job Search

Just because you’re applying to work on a boat instead of in a more traditional setting doesn’t mean that your resume isn’t important.

However, having a good resume is something that is often overlooked. Your resume is your first impression, and if you aren’t even responsible enough to create a resume, how are you going to prove that you’re responsible enough to work on a ship, where others’ lives may be in your hands. Here are common resume mistakes that you can fix to ensure that you get the job:

Fill any gaps in your work history. If you were out of work for a few months while you waited for a ship to be readied, make a note of that. If you took a job not related to the shipping industry while looking for a better job, make a note of that. When you have gaps, it looks like you flake – in other words, you aren’t reliable. Always account for your time.

Use action verbs. Bulleted lists like this one work great for resumes, but instead of starting off with sentences like “While working with x company, I did this…,” start with strong action words. For example, notice that I started the last two bullet points with “fill” and “use.”
Because of the nature of workboat jobs, you have lots of action verbs from which to choose. There is sail, haul, ship, navigate, etc.

Find land-bound references.

If you’ve worked in the shipping industry all your life, the people that probably know you best are ship captains and other members of the officer team. However, these people make lousy references because they usually aren’t easily contacted by phone (at least not quickly). Instead, find references that work on land or provide letters of recommendation and times when people can be reached.

Don’t forget specialized skills. You’re not applying for a stuffy office job, so you don’t need a stuff office resume. List specialized skills like your ability to tie knots, your navigational training, and your strength for lifting cargo.

Customize your resume and cover letter. Nothing will get you shuffled to the bottom of the pile faster than an objective like “to have a maritime career” or a stock cover letter address to “whom it may concern.” Take a moment to research the company to which you’re applying and call human resources to ask questions about the job. Customize your resume and cover letter accordingly.

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