As recruiters, we specialize in finding the best available talent for an available vacancy. From managing the flow of vacancies to sifting through hundreds of applications and CVs and selecting the best ones for an interview call, we proceed one careful step at a time to unearthing the professional profile of a candidate and evaluating his fit with the prospective employer. Finally, at the interview, we get the opportunity to decide whether what we have learned about the candidate should lead to a hire decision.
But candidate CVs and job interviews are largely about professional record. Where has the candidate worked? What skills and experiences were gained during work? Even though such information may be important to finding a good candidate, these are not the only considerations while searching for exceptional talent. Crew manning agencies must look elsewhere to gauge how work experiences and skills translate into future potential. What are the candidate’s real potential that will prove invaluable to his employer?
Typically, our goal is to recognize talent, nurture it and help it reach its peak, both professionally and personally. We don’t always succeed in doing that, but every now and then we surprise ourselves by discovering exceptional people whose equally exceptional on-the-job feats may seem superhuman in hindsight. We have been fortunate to have such people from among our own crew, and some of them continue to work for our clients. In this regard we depend on mentoring bright young officers with the help of a select group of veteran officers who have voluntarily reduced their sailing time to work with us and groom the next generation of winners.
Exceptional officers are a hard-to-get resource, and companies from across the world are vying to induct exceptional people for their fleet in an effort to revitalize their workforce. Nowhere is this a greater challenge than in shipping because shipping is already such a mixed workforce with different levels of skills and abilities. What is more important, diversity is increasing and the mix of nationalities in the crew roster seems to be in a perpetual state of rearrangement. Normally this should have been an advantage because mixed teams, on average, tend to perform better. But given the less than comforting working conditions on ships, holding on to exceptional talent is becoming increasingly difficult. A good pay packet may not be enough to keep the best people, career development and a strong company culture is equally important to the new generation of seafarers.
At Stargate, we have tried to stay abreast of the challenges of talent management in a shipping downturn by adopting a multi-pronged strategy with the help of our clients. Recruitment is always one of our main concerns and revamping the recruitment process with the help of new technology and web-based tools, we have been able to bring about remarkable efficiencies. We are also at the forefront of encouraging more women seafarers to join the ranks and encourage our clients to recruit women officers. This often pays good dividends and fosters healthy competition in a male dominated industry.
Improving employee rewards and working conditions remain high on our list of concerns. Owners and shipmanagers can get compensation right by considering the right mix of benefits and rewards into their compensation strategy, while at the same time raising opportunities for career growth and ensuring better working conditions on board. All thee go hand in hand with improving the company’s image, and we at Stargate are very active on promoting the employer brand and company culture as the intangible payoffs of a seagoing career. In the end, a happy employee does as much to build a company’s brand than any other factor.