Marketing Strategies for Dynamic Positioning Officers
Today’s job market is getting harder & harder to break into for new dynamic positioning officers. Indeed, even experienced DPO’s can have a tougher time finding a desired berth, due to the increased number of Nautical Institute certified operators all competing for those same spots.
It is no longer a case of just calling up a company, then shipping out the next day. Today’s officers need to stand out in the sea of applicants. The way to do this is to make themselves more marketable, to appeal to the companies doing the hiring, & to the officers onboard the ship they are applying for that will be reviewing their resume & qualifications.
While nothing can beat quality sea time on an appropriate dynamic positioning vessel, there are some things that everyone can easily do that will increase their market visibility & their chances at the desired berth.
While we all go to work “for a company”, the reality of the situation is that we are essentially self-employed. Sure we may work with a number of agencies, or directly with companies, but dynamic positioning officers generally function as third party contractors.
You are your own company. Like any good company you need to build your brand.
What is my brand?
Your career brand is a combination of:
- your reputation as a worker
- the promise of your potential & impact on future employers.
Your brand should be strong and memorable enough to set you apart and to make a positive impression on people you don’t know.
What tools can I use to build my brand?
Many times this will be your only chance to make your case & impress the decision makers. It is important that you accomplish this quickly & thoroughly.
Keep it short. No more than two pages, preferably one. What your performance in high school, or what you did 10 years ago, or as a cadet, is just taking up space on the paper. When trying to land a technical job such as DPO, or DP Engineer, you need to quickly list your relevant experience.
What if I don’t have relevant experience?
You can’t get the job without experience, but you can’t get experience without the job! In this case you need to showcase the experience & skills that you DO have, that cross over to the field you are trying to get into.
The obvious case study here are officers with the DP Induction course that are having trouble getting the necessary experience to become fully qualified. While the state of the job market will have something to do with this, if you can increase your exposure & showcase the relevant experience that will be an asset to the company your chances will increase.
If you are truly committed to getting into DP you may need to think outside the box a little. Publish some articles on DP, or volunteer your time at the training centre to build hours on the simulator. Anything to improve your chances. Get creative.
Some formatting tips
Showcase your name. Make it big & bold at the top of every page, along with your contact info. The idea is to make them remember your name. Make it easy to do so.
Don’t include every certification under the sun. If you are applying for the job it should be obvious that you have the proper qualifications. The numbers & expiry dates of all your papers are a moot point. Just include an overall list & add “Copies available upon request.”
The same goes for References. Make them available “upon request.” Not only does this save space, but it gives you an indicator of the employers interest in you. If they respond & ask for references it:
A. Lets you know that you are being considered
B. Gives you a second chance to make a good impression.
2. Personal Website
Your website establishes your home base for your online presence. It should be displayed prominently on your resume with your contact information.
What do I put on it?
Your website can be as simple as a virtual resume, showcasing your work experience & qualifications.
Alternately you can write a blog relating to your field of expertise. This helps build your authority on the subject & lets potential employers know that you are serious about the industry.
So how do I do it?
This website is built using WordPress, a highly customizable, easy to use blogging software. You can get a free account at WordPress.com & be started within minutes.
If you don’t mind investing a small amount, the more professional looking way to get online is to register for your own domain name. This costs on average around $10/year, but the advantage of having YourName.com is priceless. I use GoDaddy.com for all of my domain name searching & registration.
Next you will need a web host. This is where all your files are stored online. HostGator.com is where I host all of my online work. The interface is very easy to use & they offer 1 step installation of WordPress! This means again that you can be online showcasing your skills to the world within minutes of signing up!
If you decide to go with HostGator, think about signing up for the BabyCroc account. It is one step up from the base account, but will allow you to host multiple websites from it if you choose. This step will cost between $10 – $15 per month, depending on what level of hosting you choose.
You might consider having a website built for you. This can be affordable & get you online quickly.
2. Social Networking
The next step to building a strong brand is to get your name out there & build your network of industry professionals. Using the tools of Web 2.0 this is fairly quick & easy, although this step is ongoing. You must become an Active Member in the online community, to build a name for yourself.
There are multiple tools you can access, but here are the main ones that must be used:
Statistics have shown that at least 80% of employers use, or plan to use, LinkedIn as their Primary recruiting tool!
It acts like another form of online resume & is oriented towards professionals. As you establish your network you can have colleagues recommend you for projects you have worked together on, all of which builds your brand in the community.
There are a number of dynamic positioning related groups on LinkedIn, that conduct ongoing discussions & even post job offers.
Get LinkedIn today!
In the beginning Facebook was a place to stay connected with friends & family, but has evolved into a powerful networking tool. You can find a number of groups specific to your industry & connect with like minded individuals.
Here are a few groups & pages to get you started:
…and of course the Dynamic Positioning News page!
Forums for marine personnel are not prolific online, but the few that are available are quite good & should be participated on. Again there are jobs posted, questions answered & a community of professionals to interact with.
2 main forums of value to dynamic positioning operators are:
The International DP Operators Association forum. The IDPOA works hard to the benefit of DPO’s. There are different levels of membership, with the basic membership being free. I strongly encourage all DPO’s to join & offer their support.
The dynamic positioning forum of gCaptain is also a great asset. It is biased more towards North American operations, but the technical discussions are universal.
Perhaps some of our readers from other areas of the world know of other forums specific to their area of operations? Please comment at the bottom if you do!
A word of caution
Please keep in mind that the image you project online will be accessed by the world. Many employers these days will check your online presence to see if how you are representing yourself to them is accurate. If you have been using services such as Facebook for a while now then make sure that your profile is suitable & your privacy settings are updated.
Another trick is to Google your name & see what comes up. This is often the first thing an employer will do! If you discover information that you don’t wish to share, you can take steps to clean it up.
Build your brand!
Following the steps presented here is a great start to building your professional brand, which hopefully will lead you to get the job you are looking for. Self promotion is becoming a necessity in todays job market. 18% of working college graduates report that their employer Expects some online self marketing, as part of their job!
Once you have everything in place it does not take much maintenance, although the more you put into it the more you will get out. Another benefit to the whole exercise is that you will be staying current with the news & issues affecting your industry.
What steps have you taken to build your professional brand online?