Negative vibes about mentoring, and an explanation of what's involved.

The following is an open reply to a post that was put up on one of the popular Facebook yachting groups following me launching a promotion on Monday the 15th of June. Here is the post that I am responding to followed by the original promotion.

I hope to enlighten people as to the extent of the in depth work that goes into delivering such services at the level we provide them.

I got my first dose of negative vibes about the services I offer a couple of nights ago, (not from a client I’m happy to say), following a promotional post I had put up where I had bundled a set of services together for an exceptionally good price to try to offer our services to a broader base of people in these very difficult times.

Just to be clear about the post, I was offering the following for the sum of € 250

  • A full highly professional and effective yachting CV built from scratch

  • A carefully written covering letter

  • A full IP footprint review. Searching the internet to find any skeletons that you may have left in a closet somewhere that are waiting to jump out and screw up your career prospects.

  • A professional Linked in profile built from scratch.

  • An interview coaching session culminating in a full mock interview so that younger less experienced crew (who may never have been to any kind of interview in their life) can get some realistic experience of what to expect.

Allow me to explain just exactly what’s involved in delivering such a package.

The above package would involve an absolute minimum of three to four hours of direct 1 to 1 time with me providing dedicated and specific professional coaching. On top of that there is then all the offline work that I do, as in (not working directly with a client face to face via Zoom), such as the IP footprint research, then me personally building them a great CV from scratch.

Then there is studying their work history and CV in detail to properly prepare them for an interview. I need to get to the bottom of a client to find out who they really are, why are they in yachting and what are their expectations in the industry. It takes a lot of effort to help to fully develop a client. This can all take several hours depending on how well they know themselves, how willing they are to be open an honest about themselves, their goals, expectations etc.

I do not put an upper time limit on this, though I probably should as it can be very time consuming, and I am always busy. I recently spent over 7 hours in 1 to 1 coaching via Zoom with a client for their CV and a bit of interview coaching thrown in for free, and then all the background time actually working on their CV all for the Princely sum of €89.

Though that is much longer than I would normally be able to give to a client for that price, I go above and beyond when I feel it is worthwhile to help a client to get where they realistically want to be.

In this case, over 10 hours of my time which is considerably less than a day-worker gets paid for an 8 hour shift, minus breaks and generally lunch thrown in as well, and the writer of the negative vibes does not see the value in this ?

I am truly dedicated to what I do and I enjoy helping to advance people’s careers. It is a privilege to do so. Knowing how much effort I put into my work and the heartfelt feedback that I get from my clients I know that what I provide represents outstanding value for money to my clients. However this article is not about me and the services I offer and it’s not a plug for my own business. This is in fact about you, the person reading this and what you can gain by seeking professional career advice from some of the many experienced and professional people that provide it.

I do have a caveat in that regardless of who you look towards to provide such advice you should firstly ensure that they have the required background of experience and in the correct field and be sure that the advice that they will give you will not in fact steer you in the wrong direction.

There are for example some people offering specialist CV services that I personally feel are not adequately experienced to do so. As they say in consumer law, caveat emptor, “let the buyer beware.” Do your homework and ensure that you are happy with whoever you select to help you with this kind of service, because you most definitely do not want to get it wrong.

The number one problem that I am seeing with so many CVs is the way they are presented and laid out. It is not my aim to be critical of the work of others but rather to protect your best interests by keeping you away from pitfalls. The current trend for CVs that are funky and modern in design, usually only 1 page and full of colour bullet points galore but seriously lacking in important information is in my opinion a critical mistake to make. This is my personal opinion developed through over 25 years as a Master, and in industry before that. The majority of proper professional, highly experienced, longstanding crew agents will reflect this opinion. There is no “one size fits all CV” but if you choose to deviate from a more conventional CV format / layout that is a risk you choose to take, and I strongly advise against it.

With that out of the way, seeking proper professional advice from a competent and highly experienced authority is a good move for your career prospects in just about any industry.

Yachting being so very unique lends itself even more to this kind of professional advice when dispensed by an appropriately experienced person. You are only 19 or 20 years old, you are heading off to embark on a new and exciting career in a foreign land and you end up travelling all over the world working in a very unique and often very challenging environment. You lack any real life skills and mostly lack any particularly relevant specific technical skills in your early months of your career.

Many young people entering the industry have an unrealistic vision of what it is all about. An experienced professional mentor will help to correctly adjust this perception.

So to the writer’s post.

Firstly, I am not a crew agent and do not offer such services. I am not mentoring because I am unable to operate as a crew agent. I have been mentoring for over 30 years.

As to the writer’s comments on “getting sea time and working hard”; firstly if your CV is inappropriate, badly written, has a lousy photo, or an IP footprint search tells a very different story to the angelic one you are portraying on your CV, you will not even get to the interview stage. Thus it ends there.

Therefore will not even get on a boat and will not even be able to start to build up your sea time.

Secondly, though I applaud the writer’s idea that one should work hard, the general consensus is that many of today’s young crew lack an adequately strong work ethic and need to be somewhat nurtured and prepared for what lies ahead of them so they do not fall at the first hurdle.

Let’s be honest heading off to work full time on a yacht is not the same as going to work a 6 hour shift at Burger King three days a week.

Let’s take a look at the specifics I was offering (or those that any other person providing such services might offer), in terms of a retort to the writer of the negative vibes.

Preparing a thoroughly professional and fully appropriate CV for the yachting industry takes a great deal of work.

Especially when people are younger and less experienced, you more often than not need to really take the time and effort to extract the correct information out of them. It can be a bit painful because they frequently don’t really know what to tell you, as much of what they think is irrelevant can in fact be very relevant, and vice versa.

You might be surprised to find out just how long it takes to extract the correct information out of some clients.

I am a skilled photographer and give detailed advice on how to take a fully appropriate CV photo. I am in fact as soon as lockdown is lifted here in Scotland going to do a full video on this very subject as it is one that many crew need to be educated in given the amount of very inappropriate photos that we still see on CVs.

Many people find MS Word, The default application used by most people to make a CV on, a very challenging bit of software to use to prepare a well laid out CV document. It is in fact extremely difficult to use for this purpose, (compared to other software that is available).

I have a bit of background working in Desktop Publishing so I prepare people’s CVs in more suitable software so that they can be extremely well “fine tuned” with (literally) fraction of mm precision). This can be extremely effective and helps tremendously in getting a great looking CV without the need to delete a single pertinent word.

English Language. Lots of people in yachting have English as a second language. The type of language that you use in a CV is absolutely critical. There are lots of subtleties that need to be addressed and there is a great a deal of psychology in the way that language is used. I actually devote as much time to this with clients whose first language is English as well.

Sometimes when I feel it is necessary, I check peoples references to see that they will in fact represent the candidate in a good light. This needs to be done because some candidates actually have referees on their CVs that they have either not asked to be a referee, or that do not particularly want to be a referee or sometimes simply will not portray the candidate in the way they might hope. This of course can be disastrous for the candidate.

The bottom line is if your CV sucks, it will go straight in the shredder and you will not get an interview. You do not get a second chance.

I fail to see how investing less than the cost of a few rounds of drinks in The Corner Bar, (Sorry Penny & Matt, we love you but just needed a good example of a yachtie bar), in the case of the service that I offer for a CV review € 89, is not going to be one of the best investments you will ever make in your career to help you get a truly professional and appropriate CV that will put you ahead of a lot of the competition, (with similar qualifications and experience to yourself).

I can assure you that getting such advice from any suitably experienced person will help you to achieve this.

I then prepare a detailed and relevant covering letter to either crew agents or for a specific job that a client may be applying for. A covering letter to be effective needs to be tailored very specifically to a given position. It is not a simple cut and paste job. That would be doing my clients a great miss service.

Linked in is a hugely powerful tool and the yachting industry, at least at crew level has been very slow to adopt it. Many, in fact most of my clients do not have a Linked in profile. I therefore produce one form them so that they can start to harness this powerful tool for their benefit.

Some people new to yachting have never attended an interview in their lives. Interviews can be daunting for many people, especially green crew in an industry such as yachting. I take the time to fully prepare crew for interviews having conducted hundreds of them in my career in yachting and many more before that I am well qualified to advise crew on what employers are likely to be looking for and what will turn them off immediately. Some of it is very subtle and some of it is simply ruthless. A point that you may consider to be very minor on your CV or that comes up in an interview can be absolutely terminal for your prospects with many people that will be reading your CV or interviewing you.

I walk clients through the entire process from perfect preparation to yachting (and general) etiquette etc. before they even step on a boat or attend an office.

I discuss phone and VOiP (Zoom etc.) type interviews. Once we have gone over everything I will conduct a proper mock interview if the client wishes to go through that experience. Most especially the younger less experienced crew, find it an incredibly valuable thing to do. This process alone can take well over two hours.

So to the person that put up the critical post, I ask you, is this still “ridiculous”? Does this not all add up to extremely good monetary and non tangible value?

I assist, coach and mentor people at all levels and interestingly enough the majority of my recent clients have been more experienced and mature crew, Chief stews, First officers and Masters.

They have clearly all found great value in the type of service I, and other professional mentors offer.

One of the most challenging things about running such a business is that the vast majority of those that need the most help, have no idea that they actually need any help at all.

Until that is, they eventually do the sensible thing and decide to get some help and their eyes are opened in such a way as I have had described to me as an epiphany.

Many of the world’s most successful people partly attribute their success to having a great mentor. A great mentor is a truly valuable asset.

I incidentally have done a lot more, and still do more Pro Bono mentoring compared to that which I charge a fee for.
I frequently, pro-actively approach people that I feel are worthy of my help on a Pro Bono basis. I like to support the underdog, people from unusual places, with a different colour of skin, who’s body shape may not meet with industry stereotypes with a less than privileged background than most to help them succeed in yachting. All free of charge.
Here is the page on my web site just to prove what I am telling you is true.

So to the writer of the negative vibes, perhaps you yourself , could benefit from a degree of career coaching.


If you want to limit your own options by putting down the value of such services, that’s your business but please don’t be critical of the huge benefits that mentoring can offer other people by putting them off seeking professional advice that could have a greatly beneficial impact on their own career prospects.

So here is my offer to the writer of the negative vibes: Send me over your CV, I’ll review it for you free of charge, need some coaching, I’ll give it to you free of charge, whatever you need from me, it’s on the house. And to the other person that commented on the post with the single word “Vultures”

Do you still think it’s all about the money?

Mentoring people is a genuine privilege.

To be partly responsible for helping predominantly young people build a successful career in the challenging world of yachting, thus allowing them to become financially independent at a young age and freeing themselves, to pursue their own dreams beyond serving the dreams of the very wealthy people they work for, is truly satisfying.

The profit that I gain from what I do is predominantly in enjoying this privilege, not the more tangible monetary gain, which is in any case minimal at best given the time I invest in my clients.

Just to finish off, here are a few short quotes taken from detailed testimonials that clients have sent me. They range from Masters to completely green crew.

"I’m very grateful for his help and he might not know it but I’m even more grateful for him believing in me." Green deckhand.

"I don't even have the words to thank you for your time, professional knowledge and experience you shared with me. I don't think I can ever repay you the service offered to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your solidarity, encouragement and kindness." Stewardess. (This was a paid client just to clarify as the depth of her gratitude may make it look like it was pro bono.)

"I highly recommend Iain as a yachting mentor and also as a genuine person who cares about the people he has the responsibility to influence." Master.

"Yacht mentoring professionals, taking a person as an individual and keep guiding them till the candidate will succeed! " Stewardess.

"Iain is extremely knowledgeable and professional in every sense. I highly recommend him.” Chief Stewardess.

"I give Iain all the credit for my recent job acquisition." Deckhand.

"Iain's advice and support was of the utmost professional calibre." Master

"Iain’s advice was invaluable.” Green Deckhand.

About the author

Iain Flockhart, MD, Saor Alba Holdings Ltd, is a highly experienced yacht captain with over 265,000 nautical miles in the role of master since 1996. He bought and completely refitted his first yacht at the age of 20 and went on to buy a larger ocean going yacht a few years later and set sail across the oceans, often with novice crews.

As well as being a Master, Iain provides professional mentoring services to yacht crew and advises on issues relating to hiring, managing and retaining the right crew. He’s an ambassador for the exceptional Rafnar brand of RIBs. through his brand SA Marine. He enjoys simple pleasures such as using his 7m RIB to go exploring and wild camping in the natural beauty of his native Scotland.

Captain Iain Flockhart, The Yacht Crew Mentor. +44 7958 301 111

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