Updated: May 25, 2020
For the vast majority of us Chief Stews, we are surrounded by a team of gorgeous 20-somethings who are fresh out of university, have undeniable six-packs and wear summer dresses with cute trainers, exuding spunk and trendiness. I was once so taken aback by how cute one of my junior stews looked (Mieke! ) I bought a similar outfit only to be called straight out by my partner as being mutton dressed as lamb. I was 27. And that's not the worst. Their CV's have all the standard hospitality skill sets that once set you apart and they learnt it on a short course, online, in 2 weeks. God forbid, they might even help you code your blog (guilty again, urgh). But like it or not, if you don't make the time or take the initiative to continually seek out the latest trends, you might well just find yourself running ever so slightly behind, panting, unfit, in said cute trainers. These are my top 5 tips to staying current.
1) Update your CV format. I have been super surprised at how few girls have taken the time to design a CV format that is original and stands out. Much of our job revolves around being creative, professional and "in the know". Your CV should depict that too. Unfortunately, if your CV is largely still black and white, you're probably like the kid who fell out of the tree; you're just not in it. Look at Superyacht Resume for some inspiration but to stand out, I would highly recommend creating your own template on Microsoft Publisher or Canva as you can consistently update it and make it completely original.
2) Brush up on your skills. Whilst certified online courses are becoming more popular, practical knowledge is still king. As a Chief Stew it's substantially more probable that you will be put on the spot to prove something you have claimed to know. Rather than waiting for it, beat them at their own game and have them remember you for it. Particularly setting yourself a part from the sea of other Chief Stews, is by developing a skill that is new and trendy: enter Latte Art. Whilst on interview in a cafe this is a super sneaky go-to. You can casually bring up how you took it up over Covid (??) and ask if they would like to see! Alternatively if the interview is over Zoom or the likes, have it pre-made at your side as a cheeky reference should you be able to slide it into the conversation. But be cool. Being naturally suave and seemingly effortless but perfect are practically also in the job description.
3) Interviews: Conducting interviews is one thing, but getting into the chair to have one, is another. Either you're a person who exudes grace and confidence and practically produces their own glitter or you're sweating between your toes even though you've practiced answering that exact question 10 times over the last 2 hours and know that you're fully capable of doing the job. The key, is to make sure you come off as the first. Prepare for tougher and more relevant questions. A huge part of being a Chief stew is being able to answer questions eloquently on the spot as the predominant guest liaison. Read your CV and come up with 5 questions based on your experiences that would stand out, or send it to a few friends or family and and ask them to do the same. Captain David Smith and Captain Eli Olive shared 10 standard questions that they would ask in a Chief Stew interview today. Brace yourself for the last one.
- How did you use the time over Covid-19? (are you a self motivator and team builder)
- How have you engaged yourself with the crew in the past? (how do you integrate in a team)
- What is your management style? (are you more hands on or prefer to delegate, how do you prioritise your team for tasks)
- Are you happy to train more green crew, or are you used to working with more seasoned players? (how hands on and patient are you)
- How to do rate the days priorities? I.e. Cleanliness of guest areas/cabins, crew areas, guest service, drink service?
- How have you previously dealt with stress? (can you handle yourself and recognise when you need help)
- What motivates you professionally? (what do you want to get out of this position)
- Describe your last relationship with the galley (typically the most difficult relationship on a yacht, how do you conduct yourself within it)
- What appeals most to you about this job? (what is most important for you to experience whilst onboard, what motivates you)
- What do you hope to achieve this season and in the next year? (do you have short term and long term goals)
- Could you please give me three references for captains and most importantly chefs that you have worked with in the past.
4) Dress. It's important to keep uniforms smart and on point, least of all because it affects the way your crew feels about being associated with your yacht and the yacht's image. As inventory begins to run out of an item, do a little review of alternative options. So many new uniform brands are popping up and with commercial brands like Zara producing great options, variety is finally changing the yachting uniform game! @ciarathekiwi
5) Keep things fun by reinventing the old. Whether it's pinning pictures of crew faces to pillows for missing person drills or challenging the girls to find a new way of doing something completely mundane, get the team involved! When working in a small team, particularly in yard or quiet winter periods we would use the last Friday of the month to report back on something new we had found, tried and tested. My latest discovery has been these cocktail ice balls. A little on the time intensive side but they can be made beforehand and are a great wow factor to present as your signature cocktail on the first day of a charter.
At the end of the day though, your girls are a part of your team and there's nothing more upsetting than a team not utilising each others skills to their full potential because of your own feelings of job insecurity. Flourish with your team and they will always promote you, because staying current will always include the words "can you show me how?".
Two Stews x