The Importance of a Good Reference

If a resume is considered the document that speaks for you before you’ve met your prospective employer, then references have the power to make or break your case.


Any professional should appreciate the importance of a good reference and letter of recommendation. If you leave your previous job with the amicable relationship between you and your employer intact, it can go a long way in helping you land the next job. Because the yachting industry is so niche, and therefore extremely small, your  lasting impression is what will catapult you from one yacht to the next. If your previous captain considers you a dream to work with, your prospective new employer will take that under discerning advisement. Transversely, if you were subordinate and unprofessional you stand the risk of being black-balled in the industry.


References are extremely important, extremely powerful tools. Once an employer has a solid list of candidates, reference checking becomes a way of eliminating applicants.A recent study found that one in five job candidates get knocked out of consideration during this part of the hiring process. There are candidates out there who look great on paper but who perform poorly during interview. There are also candidates who perform very well during interview but once they are on the job it’s a different story altogether. CVs can be embellished, and it’s even possible to become a ‘master interviewee’ with a bit of coaching or practice. This is why ensuring you have a set of good references is imperative. Receiving a bad review, however, isn’t as uncommon as one would hope. Below are a few tips and tricks to ensuring you maintain a great professional relationship with your previous employer in a way of securing a glowing reference letter or letter of recommendation:


When prospective employers conduct reference checks they are endeavouring to obtain independent information about your previous job performance. So work well and work hard.

It may seem silly to state the obvious but many fail this primary task. Fulfilling your daily responsibilities and achieving output expectations is a sure way to please your boss. Knowing how the Captain takes his coffee or likes her eggs will only go so far if you cannot, or will not, do what you were hired to do.  Keep your head down, get your work done and you’ll be rewarded as such when it does come to requesting a reference letter.


No man (or woman) is an island. The worst thing a crew member can do is isolate themself. Yacht crew work as a team and that cohesion is important in maintaining a smooth running system. You may think retreating, in order to get your work done perfectly, is helping your productivity but it is hurting your marketability. Most captains and employers are looking for candidates who can play well with others. If you can exhibit traits of a team player your reference will note your contributions and how you are a priceless asset to any team you join, and communicate this to your future employer.


A mistake many professionals, not yacht workers alone, make is that you don’t discuss letters of recommendation with your references. Whether crew feel awkward doing so, or too polite to bother their superiors, this mistake has the potential to cause confusion and great upset that could otherwise be avoided. It needn’t be a long conversation. As a crew member you should give your intended reference your updated resume so they know what to write about and what they may, potentially, be asked by a reference checker. Giving your reference enough time to draft a letter is also an important factor many don’t consider. Your reference is then pressured to rush writing a reference which may not paint you in your best light.

Hint: As a point of interest, you should ask for a reference letter/letter of recommendation a few months before you actually need it.

When you’ve given your resignation notice make sure you do so on cordial terms. There is no reason to leave with bad blood as that will follow you. The yachting industry is close knit. Many crew members have been employed through networking so it clear that the industry is one that is community orientated. Don’t make enemies, don’t be difficult to work with; these kind of things travels through the grapevine faster than you can imagine. It’s not worth tarnishing your reputation over.  

Crew HQ offers to perform reference checks for its members. If you are subscribed to the Premium Package we will contact all your references for you, fill out an online review for prospective employers to refer to when considering your application. Upgrade your subscription today to have access to this service.