From Decks to Desks

over 8 years ago by Andrew Cook
Andrew Navy

​I’m fairly new to the world of recruitment, having spent the last four years of my working career in the merchant navy.

The jobs are worlds apart, in more ways than one – within my time at sea I covered hundreds of thousands of miles through Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, crossing every major ocean – but having spent a couple of months in the recruitment industry I find that there are similarities where I hadn’t thought previously that there would be.

Product vs People

My time at sea involved the transportation of goods and cargo, predominantly crude oil and liquefied natural gas – both unpredictable and dangerous should they be mis-handled – and although the surroundings in an office environment are generally not at the mercy of mother nature, dealing with people that can adapt and change, and that sometimes be unpredictable, involves always thinking a few steps ahead to make sure that the outcome of any situation is the best it can be. Thankfully I’ve not experienced any explosive people (and long may that continue) but the core of this is to be proactive, and form strong relationships with everyone I deal with. Communication is the key to success or failure.

The work environment

Recruitment is a high-intensity environment with the goal of finding the right people for the right role. Combined with this, there is the added pressure of getting to those people before anyone else, and just like navy operations; time is money! Should the ship’s schedule become delayed by an outside influence it can cost millions, which is hard enough to deal with, and this mentality of being responsible for my actions to make sure that the team do what needs to be done is serving me in my recruitment life too. You have to act on your feet and assess different situations that can change at any point, minimising any potential risk.

There’s also a strong reliance on technology. Onboard a ship I worked with highly advanced navigation and cargo equipment. Now the tools at my disposal are more focused on networking, sourcing candidates and communicating with people inside and out of the business. Of course it’s a completely different ball game, and thankfully I don’t need to deal with a lack of phone signal! It’s important to know how to use the tools in the best ways, in the most applicable situations.

Both roles have one key similarity – you’re there to fulfil a duty and you’re accountable to your team. From what I have gathered in my short time so far, working in recruitment also shares with the merchant navy, the necessity to have unswerving focus and concentration. It’s not always plain sailing, but if you’re organised and disciplined this can be perfectly manageable.

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