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Beyond The Gloom: The 2015 Shipping Jobs Market
Jan 20, 2015 -

This article was originally published in Seatrade Asia Week on Friday 16th April 2015.  To view the original article follow this link.

Paul Ratcliffe from Ignition Global Consulting takes a look at how best to change jobs in shipping.

Human Resources, aka people, are a vital asset for every company within shipping.  We often hear from senior management and leaders in the industry that talents are in short of supply for the shipping industry.  Managers who have a good track record and knowledge of the industry are very much sought after. There is also a high demand on reliable operators and superintendents, corporate professionals who understand the business and are able to add value effectively, and proven commercial rainmakers be they charterers, ship brokers or bunker traders. The issue that we have been facing is that there are not enough such people to go around!

2014 has been a challenging year and there are uncertainties ahead in 2015 with the recent turmoil in the crude oil market, questions over China’s economic performance and a general feeling that the global economy has not recovered from the 2008 crash.   It is a fact that several years of low freight rates in many sectors have left a lasting impact on employment and many people feel that they are under paid or under-utilized.  Tough market conditions mean that many people have not had a good solid inflation-busting pay rise in years and many have been forced to take on roles with lower pay and more limited responsibilities following redundancy or restructuring at a previous firm.

Despite the uncertainties there are positive signs for 2015 with expected moderate growth in the overall economy.  But no matter the market, many people will want to boost their career by making a transformational career move that gives them improved salary, benefits, position or career trajectory. It is all about working up to our potential regardless of the economic forecast.  So what can you do in 2015 to maximize your chances of making a transformational career move?

Start Your Job Search Before You Actually Need a Job

Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive, the best time to make a career move is when you don’t actually need to.  In the same way that banks don’t like lending money to people who need it but fall over themselves to offer credit to people or companies with money to burn, hiring managers generally prefer to offer jobs to people who are securely employed.  Certainly it is rare for someone who needs a job to receive an uplift on their previous salary.  If you are in a position to turn down a job offer then you are in a position to negotiate.  If they offer you better than your current position then you join them, if not then you stay put.  Whereas someone who needs a job pretty much has to take whatever they are offered.

Prepare a Good CV

No one gets hired for a CV, people get hired because of who they are, what they can do, and the problems that they can solve.  But a good CV gets you through the door to an interview and it prepares the interviewer, setting the tone for your conversation.  It plays the role of a marketing document and represents your personal brand.  A good CV should be 2 or 3 pages long.  It should cover your employment history with the most recent experience first.  For each job you should have responsibilities and also achievements.  The important thing is that your CV should set you apart from your “competition” and convince a hiring manager to meet you.  Prepare a generic CV and be prepared to adapt and to tailor this for specific opportunities.

Talk To Multiple Prospective Employers Simultaneously

To have the best chance of getting a good offer you should be talking to multiple potential employers at the same time.  I would not recommend explicitly playing companies off against each other during salary negotiations as this will often back fire, but you can position yourself during the interview process so that they know you are in conversation with one or more of their competitors. Fear of loss can be very powerful and can sometimes help to persuade even cautious companies to come up with a good offer.

Avoid a Scattergun Approach

Focusing on quality over quantity and engaging with a limited number of carefully selected companies helps you keep control over your job search and maintain your perceived scarcity.  The shipping market is closely knit and sometimes it feels as if everyone knows everyone.  It can be seen as a negative if the whole market thinks you are looking for a new opportunity.  And of course it is never good news if your current employer finds out that you are interviewing with competitors.  If you are working with a head hunter then an important ground rule should be to know who they are introducing you to and where they are sending your CV.

Look Beyond the Money

A great career move will give you more money and something else.  It may be an improved work environment, new exposures or responsibilities, better work-life balance, or the chance to work with inspiring colleagues and management.  It is tempting to focus on the dollars and cents and this is important, but 90% of the people I have dealt with over the years who take a job primarily because it pays well have become dissatisfied within one year.