“It’s all about being willing to go where the work is, and never saying no to employment,” says Nick Crivello, Placement Director at Divers Institute of Technology (DIT). “Treat the first 3 years of dive employment like a military enlistment. You’ll do whatever it takes to be successful – other than compromising safety standards.”
Diving Employment Process: Steps to Success
The employment search looks a little different for each diver according to their skills and interests. It also depends on the sector the diver applies to, such as the Gulf of Mexico versus the Midwest.
According to Nick, divers looking for offshore work won’t receive official employment status until they’ve been interviewed in person.
“We recently had a rep from one of the dive companies here at the school. He ended up earmarking a few of those candidates as probable hires to the actual hiring manager down in the Gulf. The process involves a drug test, a basic interview and a review of their certifications. Usually the companies start them out in the shop first to test their work ethic and reliability as an employee, and then they are soon transitioned offshore.
Commercial Diving Employment Stages
Though job searches function differently, the final stages to employment are almost identical:
- Search and apply for a commercial diving job.
- Oftentimes traveling to the company’s home office is preferred or required.
- Receive a callback and invitation for an interview.
- Undergo a drug test and simple interview with certification review.
- If everything checks out, start work.
Duty Calls: Moving for Work
Relocation is essential for commercial divers; they must travel to where work is required. Though in some cases inland diving provides more opportunities to be closer to home and/or family, even within the inland sector divers often move to various places for several weeks or months.
“I was recently called by a company in Colorado that does water tower work. They were ideally looking for someone in the Colorado area. I gave them about 10 good leads of guys looking for jobs, none of whom were in Colorado just because I literally had nobody in that area who was available at the time.”
This diving company was looking for someone to start immediately. Even though Nick had no DIT contacts stationed in Colorado, he connected them with several qualified divers who could move at a moment’s notice.
“They ended up reaching out to one of my available guys and agreed to fly him out to their main office the following week. From there it was the same process: Certification check, drug test, interview, but in this case with the assumption that everything was going to work out since they had invested to fly him out there. I talked to him recently and he is still doing well there.”
Diving in: DIT’s Job Preparation
DIT’s job placement program gives its students a competitive edge in the industry. According to records in classes from June 2012 – May 2013, their job placement rate stands at a high rate of 88%.
Steps to Job Placement
Preparation begins when students first begin DIT’s 7-month program.
Month 1: TWIC & Passport
Starting off, students are strongly encouraged to apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC®) card and passport. The TWIC® card allows them to work in maritime facilities and vessels in America, along with other benefits.
“They [students] need to set themselves up to be able to hit the ground running when they graduate,” Nick says.
Month 2: Financial Planning
Approximately four weeks in, DIT staff helps students in personal finances.
Setting up a budget is crucial to their success, especially in offshore industries where diving work is only seasonal. It also enables them to build up an emergency fund for unexpected expenses before and after graduation.
Month 3 – 7: Job Research, Counsel & Resumes
Now the job search begins.
Each DIT student receives a large list of diving companies. With this directory, students can research available jobs and contact each company to inquire about employment possibility.
But that’s just the first step.
“Research on where they want to work involves more than just having a list, it involves dialogue with instructors and staff.”
All of DIT’s instructors have first-hand knowledge of the diving world, as they are former divers. They speak with students about their career goals and help connect them with companies who will put them on a path to achieve these goals.
During this research phase, students also begin working on their resume and cover letter. Nick and his team work with students to guide them through the entire employment process. Students continue to refine their resume, sometimes going through five drafts or more.
“We also do interview preparation, mock interviews multiple times, and we discuss the importance of professionalism and positive life skills that will enable them to be successful long term. Direct job assistance involves me being the middle man between the companies and the students/grads, which involves both the companies reaching out to me and calling on companies on an almost regular basis to see if they happen to be hiring or expect to be hiring in the future.”
Effective Job Strategies for Divers
“Finding good people is easiest through word of mouth, and it’s a small enough industry that the good people get got via phone calls between people who trust each other.”
Commercial diving jobs don’t just show up at a diver’s doorstep. They must work for them. But there’s several strategies they can use to make their job search more effective.
Always be Prepared
Commercial divers should have all of their job material up to date:
- Cover Letter
In addition, they should always keep a bag packed and extra cash for travel expenses. This will ensure success when work is needed outside of the diver’s local area.
Timing is essential in the industry. As Nick puts it: “dive works comes today, or it doesn’t come at all.”
Call Actively-hiring Companies
Calling maritime companies can work to your advantage if you know the company is hiring for a job that you’re qualified for. To increase your chances of gaining employment, find out the name of the person who’s hiring and ask to speak with them directly.
Show up in Person
You may use this strategy for all dive companies within your local area.
Face-to-face conversation underscores your commitment to employers and helps them know you directly. In this scenario, you’re not just another sheet of paper on their desk.
Network with Fellow Divers
Commercial divers look out for each other.
Though it’s a small industry, there’s commercial diving groups on almost every social network. Find these and start making connections. Find common ground as well – some may be alumni of the same dive school you graduated from.
Commercial divers should make sure their personal life is in order. Disorder and lack of value will spill over to your professional career.
“If you’re a diver who isn’t working, there’s probably a reason. You’re either inflexible about where and when you’re willing to work, you have a bad work ethic, you have a bad attitude, or you have a lax attitude towards safety.”
Research Diver’s Job Directory
Though the commercial diving industry is largely through word of mouth, there are still many directories you can search for jobs. These include job sites specific to divers, as well as maritime job listings and more general job aggregators.
Work Your Way Up
Nick offers a final word of advice for newbie commercial divers.
“Don’t get discouraged. Sometimes somebody asks me for help finding them a job, and I’m able to help them right away. At other times, depending on the situation, it can take some time before that right job comes around. When it does, be ready to jump on it and go to work!”
Written for DIT by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders
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