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How To Progress In Your Career And Not To Get Stuck In A Rut!


man with a radio in a port

Here are four easy tips on how to rise above all obstacles in your career.

Whilst our Crewtoo happiness index shows seafarers are a happy lot, one thing that can upset them is lack of career progression. Sometimes when the day to day routine is so hectic it’s easy to forget the importance of your career. But fear not, there are things you can do – all is not lost, don’t panic!

compass directing you to your new career

Compass directing you to your new career


1) Your four steps to job satisfaction at sea “AILS”

There’s nothing worse than feeling stuck in a job you hate. If you’re unhappy with your job, you owe it to yourself to have a think about things, to reflect and try to progress.

There are a few steps to get yourself “unstuck.”

The advice from career coaches is to assess what “AILS” you…( yes, very clever :-) )

  • Aptitude
  • Interest
  • Lifestyle
  • Self-goals

Aptitude is your ability to do the work—whether it comes easily or naturally to you. Do you enjoy working onboard, are you cut out for it?

Career mind map

Mind map of attributes which help your career

Next, ask whether you still find the work of interest. Are you so into your job that time flies and you are absorbed by the challenge, and the pleasure of doing a job well done?

The next two, lifestyle and self-goals, are where most professionals get derailed in their search for happiness. When assessing lifestyle, consider how much you’re being paid, whether there’s a work-life balance, and whether you’re satisfied with that balance. How is your job stacking up, is the money ok, what about time spent away?

Self-goals are the targets we set ourselves – so we need to assess how the job is setting us up to move to where we think we should be. Are you progressing? Are you gaining qualifications, experience or promotion opportunities?

2) Don’t be afraid to make it your way

There is an old saying,

“Don’t just go where the path leads you, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Working in shipping gives you the chance to develop some amazing skills – and if you decide to make your own path you can escape the rut.

So what are “desire lines”?

pic saying get your future started

Get your future started

You’ve probably seen them, these are the paths people make when they cut across a grassy area instead of following the prescribed walkway. These spontaneous, unofficial, radical paths trace the “desire lines” of those travelling. They clearly show that people often decide against following the path dictated to them, and instead look to go their own way.

While it may be all well and good to break free and forge our own route when wandering about our daily lives, does it follow that we can take this “desire line” theory and apply it to a career path? It seems that when we look at careers in shipping the answer is “YES”.

“Shipping is a great industry to forge your own route – forget the path, follow your own route and escape the career rut by carving the career you crave.”

3) Keep moving forward and think outside the box

Picture of ladder in clouds - shows career progression

Career development ladder

Focus on the positives – and you need to remember that seafarers are in demand. With the right mix of experience and qualifications the world is your career oyster.

While the early days of a shipping career are shaped by the need to gather qualifications and experience, once the dust has settled and you have your tickets and experience, there then are ever greater opportunities to fulfill career desires, whether with new companies or ashore.

Want to stay at sea and spend a lifetime as a proud and skilled Master or Chief…fantastic. But there are so many other options that shipping can give ashore too. Ultimately with shipboard experience comes the flexibility to enter so many different fields, from maritime law, insurance, HR, sales, events, journalism…the list goes on.

4) Challenge yourself and don’t forget to share!

Career attributes

Attributes which help improve your career

Asking difficult questions is the only way to really see how best to move ahead. By really exploring your aptitude, and interest, whether you are happy with the lifestyle or whether you feel you are on the path to achieve your goals will make it easier to see your route forward.

By finding the issues you are facing today, you can begin to understand the kind of role you need to progress on your desired path.

We wish you luck – and if you have any career development ideas you would like to share, let us know. What about the role of training? Do you use distance learning to get you ahead of the curve? What about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – is this something you take part in, or would like to?

Share your career stories below about how you are getting ahead in shipping.