Your first step on the road to a new professions is to ensure you choose the right centre with the right mentor…
It’s not just about getting the card, during your time you should have become familiar with all aspects of your forthcoming life:
Vehicles and the daily first parade, equipment and their daily first parade including basic resolves if you encounter issues, customer service, sales, flexibility and a unique individual approach to every person and their different needs…. but most of all your team as they are there to support and assist as your day, week or month progresses.
There is an old saying ‘iron sharpens iron’ it’s exactly the same with people. The people around you shape you and you them, everyone has different gifts… some of yours you might not know yet, but you will… just stay the course 🙂
Being an Instructor & Getting your First Gig:
So you passed the exam and earned your instructor ticket?
Welcome to the party!
From here on in life will be all about cocktails on the beach and getting paid to float around in the ocean…. or something like that? That isn’t actually the case but don’t worry you will find out soon enough… just to help you along here are some insights:
So all you need to do now is find somewhere to work and that’s got to be the easy part right? Wrong!
Getting your first job as a scuba instructor is hard. As a rookie instructor, it’s going to require more than being in the right place at the right time, with a big smile and a passion for diving.
You need to stack the odds in your favour. In order to help you take note of the following guide.
Are You Experienced?
The age old catch 22, you need experience to get the job but how do you get one without the other? This is why it’s important to choose your professional training academy with caution as every part of your personal progression is important and will come in handy down the line.
There are attributes that employers will look favourably upon in lieu of teaching experience. For a dive operation to be successful it needs to have dedicated, solid, reliable people working within it, there aren’t many jobs out there for people who just want to hang out and look cool & there are way too many people in the past who have tried to romance the diving industry with out the very much required ‘hard work ethic’ with a can do attitude.
At Alpha Divers we are keen to ensure you are exposed to all aspects of the diving industry to find your strengths & weaknesses which will enable you to understand where you need to develop and where you yourself are able to impart and nurture others, once is as important as the other by the way. Remember, you are now a teacher… so teach 🙂
Never forget the age old time traditions, ‘do unto others as you wish done to you’… you will be respected and will in turn learn to respect others.
When you move from one industry to another, even though the two fields of employment may be completely different, there will be some skills applicable to both. Common transferable skills are:
IT/web skills – It’s the digital age, having a strong online presence is critical for a modern business and dive outfits are no exception. Dive centres always appreciate having staff who, when out of the water, can help improve their online presence. Web design or optimisation skills will definitely boost your chances of getting work… don’t forget the awesomeness of social media, watch what you put on your private site though, employers will check you out and your general conduct is important to them when you are dealing with their hard earned clients. In other words, don’t be a muppet, have fun of course but watch what you put on line.
Mechanic – What happens to the dive centre when the compressor breaks, vehicle or boat engine dies? Calling in technicians to fix broken machinery, even cars, takes time and money, having someone on the team who can help with basic mechanics is a huge asset. Also showing you are mechanically minded will mean that you are more likely to catch on to things like regulator and BCD repairs. Train yourself if you haven’t got the mind for it, we are pretty awesome creations and are adaptable to anything if willing.
Sales – A dive centre is a business, it needs to make money and it does that by selling its product to its customers. As an instructor working closely with a client you are in a perfect position to advise them on further diving, training or equipment. Dive centre owners and managers like to employ people with sales and marketing backgrounds as they are likely to be able to recognise revenue generating opportunities. Don’t just sit on your laurels and wait for the boss or manager to generate the ideas, step out of your comfort zone, try… your not always going to hit the mark but it means you are developing your attitude and the great ideas will eventually come i assure you.
Having experience in managing customer expectations and generally keeping people happy is an asset. Many dive businesses rely on repeat business from their customers and they all should be concerned with online reviews that their customers leave. For these reasons they need to employ people who are able to ensure the customer leaves happy even when things don’t necessarily go as smoothly as you would like, this is where a flexible attitude is important.
Ability to work with children – Not everybody can work well with kids. Nowadays there are so many programs for younger divers, being able to accommodate them means more business for the dive centre. Get on their level, literally squat down and speak to them direct if needed, they will relate to you if you relate to them… but it takes effort on your part.
As a dive professional you will need leadership skills, people need to feel confidence in doing what you ask of them. Beyond this, larger dive centres like to employ people that they feel can work up to managerial roles. If you can demonstrate that you have been successful in people management then this will help you.
First Things First….
Before you go looking for a job, there are some things that you absolutely need to get squared away, these include:
Your own skills. If you have trouble with basic concepts like buoyancy, navigation or deploying an SMB then it will be noticed, so sort it out.
Be the best you can be – if you know you have weaknesses in fundamental skills that you are supposed to teach to other people then practice the hell out of them and improve yourself.
Starting out your dive career with no money, or even worse, in debt is a bad plan. Your income for the first year probably won’t be very much so plan on saving enough to pay for your instructor training as well as having a bit of a cushion to keep you afloat.
Having your own gear is not something that will put you head and shoulders above the competition, it is a basic requirement.
This includes ancillaries like an SMB, torch, open heel fins with boots (more on that later), computer, compass, knife if wreck diving etc. Tough, practical, hard wearing gear is best and if you know where you want to go to work it is worth looking at how easy it is to get your brand of gear serviced and maintained in that area. Mares & Apeks are the easiest to get serviced and the best manufacturers to be fair.
When the brown stuff hits the fan things get very expensive very quickly, trust me, you need insurance. As a professional (depending on where you work), it may make sense to think about liability insurance as well, DAN is our chosen favourite because they are on the ball and are always there to assist your needs.
Make sure your instructor certification is valid and that you have paid up all your membership fees, this is common sense but you’d be amazed how many people don’t make them selves professionally bullet proof.
Like any job, you are going to need to get a CV or resume together.
You can research ideas but I would suggest keeping it short and sweet. Dive centres get sent sack loads of emails from people wanting work, yours needs to stand out and should not include pointless blurb.
It should include:
Your contact details
Web presence details e.g. Flikr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blog addresses and forum user IDs
Personal Insurance status, DOB, Driving capability (with licence of course)
Previous employment history
Dive training, certifications and experience
Languages & other relevant skills
NO… Paragraphs about your love of scuba, this should go without saying
NO…Statements like “I don’t care where I work, I just want to get a dive job”
Make it yours, keep it neat and if you feel the need to add graphics of any description then be sure they maintain a professional image.
Good advice is not to wait until an opening is advertised. When a dive centre advertises that they have a position available, they get absolutely bombarded with emails from people with all kinds of experience.
Of course there is no harm in responding to adds if you see one you want. Leading agencies have jobs boards and there are other places you can look for example facebook sites, dive job websites and sections on forums like scubaboard. Keeping an eye on these sites can help you build an overall picture of the employment market. It shows you what region is hiring at a particular time and can also point out places to avoid like somewhere that constantly has to repost the same job advert over and over again because they can’t hold on to their staff.
The best way to get started is to go in to the dive centre in person, meet the boss and talk to them about getting a job. Unfortunately though, this is not always possible. If you want to work in your home country then this may not be an issue as you may even know the staff already. If you want to leave your home country and work overseas then this becomes a lot more difficult depending on your available time and money.
The alternative is to email the company. When sending an email I would suggest a template is a good idea but a blanket email is not so. The email itself can have your cover letter in the body text and attached should be your CV, a clear photo of you out of the water and some references if you have them. Avoid anything that makes your email too large as that’s a good way to get deleted immediately and be sure to run a spell check on everything!
But personalise it… find out the manager or owners name… check them out on line first or you will get deleted… engage them directly and personally if you can.
However you make contact with the dive centre you want to work in, it really helps to create a good impression if you tailor your approach to them. For example:
Dear Dive Centre
I am coming to Cyprus and really want a dive job, do you have any openings in June?
Dear Mr Smith
I note with interest that your dive centre is an Project Aware Partner & eco-operator. As a diver with a passion for environmental sustainability I would like to enquire about forthcoming employment opportunities within your organisation.
Approach 1 is of course the easiest and can be sent out blindly to hundreds of dive centres at a time by putting their email addresses in the BCC field. Even though you can reach more people in less time, it is likely any reputable organisation will trash the email, i certainly would and do quite regularly. It shows laziness and a lack of commitment!
Approach 2 shows that you have an interest in the dive centre, it compliments them and shows them that your personal interests are in line with the company goals. Little things like this help you appear to be interested in working for that specific company as opposed to just getting any old job that you don’t really care about.
Although the above example is based on a written approach, you can do the same in person. If you are able to walk into a dive centre to talk about job opportunities then at least take 10 minutes first to look them up on the internet. Try to find their identity, what do they do, what sets them apart from other dive centres? If you get talking to the manager about what it is you really like about his/her centre then he/she will be more likely to remember you over anyone else that has called by recently.
There are skills that may not be a particular requirement for a job but can help you get work over others if you have them, these include:
Photography skills. Having an underwater camera and knowing how to use it is advantageous. A good photographer with a camera enables the dive centre to offer so much more to its guests. In addition to this, it is good for the centres own marketing to have someone on the team creating and posting good quality pictures.
Tech skills. Being a tech diver shows an extended knowledge of dive theory and practice. Just having a basic tech course will really help you stand out.
Every language that you can speak opens up a new customer group for the dive centre you are working for. The importance of language skills varies depending on where in the world you want to work as does the languages you speak. In some parts of the world, being able to speak a few popular languages is the most important asset a dive instructor can have.
Having a background in sports can help in general as that shows you are more suited to an active lifestyle. Most dive centres prefer nonsmokers so if you do smoke then maybe now is a good time to think about stopping. If you are good enough to offer classes in anything else like swimming or yoga then it is always worth approaching the dive centre with your pitch.
Social media. Dive centres have to utilise social media in order to promote their business so it helps if they have staff who understand how to use it effectively. Having your own online presence is a good idea, this could include blogs, facebook, twitter, Instagram, tripadvisor and scubadviser, as well as being active on forums like scubaboard. Think about what you post and what is posted about you for example a cover photo of you lying in a pool of your own vomit after your DM snorkel test does not create a very good image of a reliable dive professional. Keep it clean and avoid posting offensive beliefs or strong comments on subjects like politics or religion.
Getting Out What You Put In
There are so many opportunities out there it is impossible to imagine. When chasing a dive job, you need to be wary, some could offer the best job for you in the world, others could end up being an expensive disaster. Never rush in to anything and always do your homework. Research the location, company, hours, work etc etc etc. Don’t just go out there and desperately grab the first place you are offered because it is critical for your success that you find the right place. Ask yourself genuinely what do you want and then try to find it.
For me it was my own centre and i’ve been blessed ever since, but boy did i graft for it, sacrifice after sacrifice but now 12 years in it was then best move i ever made… have you got the minerals to change your passion in to something more?
If you have then contact firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more… we are but an enquiry away