7 Proven Tips for Landing a Job with Top Shipping Agencies

by | Last updated Nov 24, 2023 | Career Guide, Job Search | 0 comments

The maritime industry is growing rapidly, and the demand for seafarers is increasing every year. For this reason, shipping agencies are gearing up to provide shipowners with the best, qualified, and competent crew to man their ships. It also means it’s your best chance to land a job on your dream shipping agency. 

Though some big names in the maritime business are securing their future by investing in cadetship programs, it’s still not enough.

Maritime scholarships such as Project Alpha, NIS/NSA, IMEC, INC, and many others ensure the loyalty of their young workforce while training them to become the best officers and engineers.

But because of the rising trade forecast and more ships being built on schedule, they need more crew outside of those scholarship programs. This is where you come in.

Everyday job fair

If you’re interested, you may be surprised by the multitude of seafarers and agencies advertising job openings for all types of vessels and crew on the bustling streets of Kalaw. It’s like an everyday job fair feast! 

In addition to this, many agencies promote their job postings online daily to attract the best qualified crew.

As a result, applicants have a vast array of options to choose from when applying to a company including cruise ship agencies. Perhaps you have a dream agency in mind with excellent pay, full benefits, crew rejoining bonuses, free training with allowances, paid vacations, and much more. 

How to apply and get hired by your dream shipping agency

If you’re a seaman who wants to work for your dream agency, follow these simple tips to increase your chances of being employed.

1. Do a background research

Before contacting or submitting an application form, it is essential to do a background check of the company. Initially, verify if the shipping agency is accredited by DMW.

After that, check its historic records of accomplishments, the nationality of its principals, the type and number of ships they have, latest awards, news, office branches, and others. 

Get to know the big names of their staff such as the crewing manager, owner’s representatives, port captains, etc. It’s super easy to know this nowadays. Crewing managers love to talk to applicants who know how to “speak their language”.

Just visit their website or ask an ex-crew member who may be sitting beside you in their office.

2. Prepare your CV

Once you have a specific knowledge of the company and the people behind them, prepare your CV in print and soft copy. It must include all your trainings and certificates, sea service experience, travel documents, pertinent visas, contact details, availability and a very nice picture of yourself. 

Scan your files and save it in your USB. Here, I am assuming that you already know the salary and other benefits, since this is your dream shipping agency. You should be able to know them first hand as these are the reasons why you’re applying there.

Now, watch out for the job postings. Visit their website, main office, Kalaw postings, FB Page, seaman jobsites, and other media. You can even listen to the news circulating among your fellow seafarers.

3. Applying for the position

Now that you are well-prepared with enough background info of the company and updated CV, what if they are not hiring?

Send your CV anyway.

Extremely reputable shipping agencies often has a very high retention rate of their crew. But it doesn’t mean there won’t be any opening.

Looking at it on another angle, this is a great opportunity for you. Everybody is not seeing any job postings and nobody cares to apply. This means that the crewing manager would most probably take their time reading through your application form.

If you are still onboard, send your CV anyway. If they think you’re a good fit to work in one of their ships, they will surely consider you.

You can report to the office once you finish your contract. When on vacation, send your resume via email with an interesting message. 

If you receive no reply, go directly to their office and apply for the said position. They may tell you they have no vacancy but suggest that you write an application form. In some cases, they will give you one even though you won’t ask for it.

Bodil Knutsen, a shuttle tanker owned by Knutsen OAS Shipping, one of the top shipping agencies in the Philippines.
Bodil Knutsen. Image: Alf van Beem, via Wikimedia Commons.

4. Meet the Crewing Manager and give an impression

Now that you are in their office, you have a better chance of seeing the crewing manager. If you meet him, I mean you must meet him, always be polite but confident. 

Be professional. Paint your face with a smile. Give that proficient aura. Remember your research. He may tell you upfront that they have no vacancy. Don’t be frustrated. Instead, ask something interesting.

Try asking about their ships, the fleet, those ones you saw in the news that saved fishermen, or their latest and greenest vessel which is making headlines in various shipping magazines. 

Then slowly talk about the latest achievement of their shipping agency. Open up the most recent award that they received and give him a warm congratulation. Ask them questions about the forecast of shipping and compliment them with how well they are doing compared to other agencies in spite of the downturn of the global economy. 

Particularly, talk about his accomplishment. This will greatly spark his interest on the subject. You can be creative on your own. The point here is to make an impression that as soon as an opening is made to your position, you are the number one person that comes to his mind.

5. Follow up

Now that you left an imprint to the crewing manager, the very next thing that you must do is to follow up your application at least once a week. I suggest you do this by email, text, call or visiting their office. 

You can do something like, upon reporting to their agency, just say you happened to buy or meet a friend in the nearby mall and since the office is not too far, you took a time to visit.

This way, they will know your great interest in the company and give you a higher possibility of employment.

6. Rinse and repeat

You can do this method simultaneously with other companies as well. I’m sure there are many excellent and large companies out there that you are interested in. You will be surprised how to answer them if they need you and call you at the same time. 

In this case, you have a very clever chance of going for the best agency of your choice. Isn’t it wonderful how it feels when people are calling you because they need you instead of you desperately needing them?

7. Ask for help

If you know a relative or a friend who is employed on that company, your chances of getting hired becomes exponential. It is common in our culture. We call them our “backer”. 

Ask him to introduce you to the crewing managers and make clear of your intentions that you really want to work with the agency. But be sure that you are really qualified, proficient, and competent for the job.

In this case, you are not only bringing the name of your backer on the line, but you are also putting his reputation at stake. Make sure you will be of great value to the shipping agency so that your backer will be proud of you and at the same time, the company will give more credibility to both of you.


But this is not always the case. Not all of us have backers and this should not hinder us from applying or getting hired by our dream shipping agencies. Here’s an article on how to get hired without relying on a backer.

May the winds be on your favor.

Gibi

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