Succesful Maritime Job Application - Engage with recruiters the right way
This topic will help you understand how to sell your relevant skill set and experience, how to put them on paper and how to tailor them for each job application. ( because this is what you have to do )
Nowadays big corporate organizations recruit by means of online application systems, but you will find that many small enterprises still use paper application forms that you will need to fill-up together with your CV and Cover Letter. When filling up an application form you need to pay attention to what the form was designed for. An application form is very different than a CV because in the application form you answer some standardized questions about information the employer wants to find out, and in the CV you can write whatever you think is relevant having the chance to exclude the failings.
An application form will ask you for details about every job you ever had, backed by referrals. This might get tricky because few individuals go through a lifetime of employment without any issues. When choosing to exclude a job experience and thus, the referral, you need to worry about the gap you leave in your CV. Our recommendation is that you always keep true and try to reflect the reality, not worrying about who might answer the call when the prospective employer calls to check your referrals.
Another thing is that the application form is standardized to offer candidates a fairer treatment when it comes to screening. So, keeping this in mind, we recommend allowing time to fill-up an application form. Be thorough, and try to fill up all gaps. Consider this the first test you are subject to when trying to land a job.
Also, keep in mind that the persons writing this career guide are screening through thousand of CV's on a monthly basis. You can take this advice into consideration when working on your career planning.
This first step eliminates almost 50% of candidates, because not all candidates are making the effort to fill-up completely the application and this is a sign that they are not prepared to be considered for the job.
Personal Details - Consider your personal details. Is your email address professional, or rather a nickname from high-school ? ( try firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com etc) Is the address and the phone number corect so you can be immediately contacted by the employer, or is the phone number a fixed phone from your mother's house ? ( Keep in mind that some jobs in this sector are urgent and are filled sometimes in minutes).
Education and Qualifications - Keep it clean. Write down all relevant qualifications and detail your educational history. Try to remember all key modules that you graduated during training. Write them down because some might get relevant. (Ex: If you are trying to land a job as instructor, if you had a module of leadership during university this might help)
Work Experience - In the Maritime, Energy and Technical sectors, work experience is truly the most important. Only after you reach mid-level professional experience, (more than 5 years) you can think you worth something to the industry. This is the cruel reality, but still, every day, entry-level professionals and graduates are struggling to get a place to start their journey. We are here to help them, guide them and show them that the misconceptions are common but effort is not. When you are at the beginning of your career you have a hidden force that you want to use to show the world that you can do it. Well, that force, guided in the right way will put you in front of the pack and will guarantee you succes . If you graduated a technical university, you can use that in your application advantage: Extract all relevant modules and write them in your application.
It's better to tell the employer that you know to assemble, disassemble and operate a certain machinery for example than to let the page blank, thinking that you worth nothing because you have no actual work experience.
Specific Questions - Some applications give you the chance to answer specific questions with personal ideas, opinions
or experiences. 90% of applications are left empty in that areas or have 5 words answers. 5-word-answers will not show the true potential you have, so we recommend that you take your time and fill up those answers with the maximum word count permitted by the form.
Personal Statement - This is your chance to tailor your application to the job description. Is your chance to show why you are the right person for the job and how you meet all the requirements. Research can be helpful here. Saying that you know how to weld and also know how to use breathing apparatus will probably not get you a diving coded welding job if you have no previous experience or training on the matter but when the experience is close to the requirements then is the most important for you to highlight all your skills to be sure you reach the top of the stack.
Current Salary - Some employers ask you to indicate your current salary and you can read tons of opinions on the matter with individuals saying that you should and others saying that you shouldn't. Either way, when you are asked and put in the situation to respond, and you really want the job make sure you price yourself correctly within margins of the market labor average. Do not try to get the job on the salary you dream about. Get the job at the highest salary you know you deserve and then prove yourself valuable and get a raise. That is the way, regardless of your position.
Visa Eligibility - In the Maritime world visa's are a common requirement. All interested companies will need to assist you with paperwork that you will present to the Visa Office at the Embassy and most of the companies will also pay for this. Being just a formality for a clean record candidate, this step will usually take place after you signed the contract. US C1D and Canadian B1 visas are most common but for special need we had requirements for more exotic places like China, Russia, etc.
References - As mentioned earlier, referrals are mandatory for a successful job application. Think about who you want to refer to and keep in mind that referrals are legally binding, and that certain person must be truthful. In a job application you should have at least 2 job referrals, with one from your current employer. Do not refer to a ships' Captain, your previous Chief Mate or the Senior Naval Architect in your previous office. Refer to previous HR Departments that were responsible with your periodical Performance Evaluations.
Background check - Some companies will dig deeper into your personal life to make sure that you are employable and that you will respect your contract agreement with no surprises. As seen from big corporations like Cruise Companies, they will require you to sign that you agree so they can dig into your background looking if you committed felonies, if you have big debt, if you are a sociably agreeable person, etc. It is your option if you fell ok with this treatment, but as we mentioned in the beginning, this is the reality.
Do your research.
Preparation is key to a successful job application. First of all, before you start completing the application form stop for a minute and think you want the job. Don't let "money" be the answer because this is the worst strategy of them all. If you let monetary compensation be the only reason for a career path then you will be miserable faster than you can imagine.
Once you decided that you want the role, then you can start preparing. This involves researching the role in detail. Try reading the company website, look for detailed job description, research for interviews with top professionals in that particular field and read everything they wrote. If you have the possibility, it will be worthwhile if you can engage with the employer at a career fair or at a presentation, because you will be able to ask further questions about the role and the application and hiring process. Maybe you can even be remembered by the recruiter, who knows. Try reading the Career Fair article for a list of relevant events across Europe.
After you read the job description and identify what the company is looking for you can start considering how your skills and experience match the requirements. Remember everything you write and be prepared at the interview to give real-life examples of when you have positively demonstrated those skills during recent activities.
Recruiters want from you proof of interest in what they are looking for, and you can do exactly that by reading into their organization. The next step is to PRINT the application form on paper and read it thoroughly. Give yourself time to complete the application. Most of the application must be completed in one sitting with an average of 45 minutes. Some non-responsive websites might erase everything if you take too long to fill-up, so a good ideea might be to write your answers in a word document and just copy-paste into the application. Do not fall victim to boredom or frustration. Job application can take hours.
Check everything once you are finished, because grammar mistakes will send your application to the bin. One way to do this is to give it some time. It is more likely to spot mistakes in your application after some time, so we recommend you fill your application in the evening and check it next morning before you submit it.
After you submit it, print a hard copy for future reference. Keep a file on your desk with submitted applications. Try to be selective, do not apply to all jobs on the market because this will send a bad message.
REMEMBER - a couple of trips offshore do not make you an SDPO, and when you submit your application, it will probably be read by an experienced professional that can smell fraud from a mile (nautical) away.
- 20 sketches in MaxSurf and 20 sketches in Autoship will not make you a Senior Naval Architect.
Don't lie in your application. Never. We cannot stress this enough. It will only make you look bad.
Another important thing. This was all about corporate recruiters that use online application forms to recruit candidates for roles. This is not the way to engage with recruitment agencies. That subject will be discussed when we will teach you to write your CV and your Cover Letter.