You have finished your IDC, successfully passed your IE, have the certificate to prove it and you feel on top of the world! You have spent a fortune to get here, but you are hoping it will all be worth it when you get to live your dream job, day in day out. However, you may quickly realize getting a job as a dive instructor can be very difficult. As a brand-new instructor, the search for a job in the dive industry can be frustrating and long. It is the age old, never ending circle of companies wanting you to have experience, and yet no one will give you a job for you to gain the experience. It took me more than 4 months to finally land my first job as an instructor, and in those 4 months I contacted hundreds of centers all over the world and was offered some frankly ridiculous jobs. Here are my best bits of advice for landing your first job as a Dive Instructor.
Ok, so it may sound kind of obvious but if you are applying for Dive Instructor jobs, make sure you are a qualified Dive Instructor. I have seen countless replies to Dive Instructor job adverts from Divemasters, Rescue divers and even Open Water divers. If this is you, consider searching for internships and forget about the job advertisements for now. As an Instructor, make sure you are in teaching status, insured, and are applying to jobs that fit your agency ie. Don’t apply for jobs specifically asking for an SSI Instructor when you are with PADI.
The first thing you need is a CV/Resume. You need to tailor this to the dive industry, so don’t just use your “Pre Dive Career” CV. Only include experience relevant to diving such as where you did your Divemaster and IDC (I really wouldn’t include all your other certifications before that!), or experience you can make relevant to the dive industry. If you are new instructor, chances are that is all the diving experience you have. Now you need to put your thinking cap on and turn some of your other jobs/experience/volunteering positions into something that Dive Centers will be interested in. Are you good with social media or sales? Any experience with boats? Are you particularly good at maintenance? Basically, if you can link any of your skills to diving you can include them. For example, I included my time working at a Primary School and used it to show that I love working with kids, as I know it is not something a lot of people enjoy and now in my current job most of the kids are sent to me!
Try to keep you CV to one page and make it easy to read. You can get fancy with the layout as long as it is clear and not confusing. Be sure to include : Name, Contact Info, Date of Birth, Instructor Number, your specialty instructor ratings and student count, dive centers and dates of training plus lists of duties ie. Filling tanks, mooring boats, sales…. Skills you can bring to a dive center. This part is particularly important for new instructors. What sets you apart from the hundreds of other newly qualified OWSI’s? I also suggest including the following statements if they apply to you: Owns full equipment, Non Smoker, No visible tattoos or piercings, has a full international driving license. And most importantly: Languages. If you speak more than one then you already have a good head start so include them on your CV, but don’t exaggerate! And finally, the photograph. It pains me that in this industry you are judged by the way you look, but unfortunately that is the way it goes. In my experience, a good full-length picture is best. You might think the picture of you doing your 100th dive in your birthday suit is hilarious, but please don’t include it on your CV! Most employers don’t want underwater photos, you in your mask or photos of you in your swimwear. I would suggest you smile too!
The Cover Letter
Do not just blindly send you CV to countless dive shops without including a cover letter. Even if it is for a job posting, add some more info into the email to back up the numbers and facts that are on your CV. And if you are just cold emailing dive centers, the cover letter is even more important.
Start with Dear “Name” if you can. So, if it is a job advert, who should you be addressing? Does it say, “Send applications to Gina at DiveCenter”? If so, address Gina! If you are just emailing centers enquiring about possibilities, do some research and find out the name of the manager. I then like to start with “I am writing in response to the advert you posted on *website*”. If cold emailing, tell the manager why you are emailing them specifically. Do you desperately want to work in that location? Have you heard of the dive center? Make it personal, so that it doesn’t look like you are just spamming every Dive Center on Earth.
It shouldn’t be super long, but you can include some personal things about yourself, such as your long-term goals, what kind of person you are and the kind of personality you will be bringing to a team. You need to sell yourself and convince the company that you are the right person for their Dive Center.
Finish by telling them you have attached your CV, with a positive such as “look forward to hearing from you”.
It can be difficult, but you will have to deal with it several times. Try to stay polite, as I had plenty of people say they were not interested or I wasn’t the right fit, and then later in the season when I had already found a job, these people contacted asking if I was still available. If I had been rude I highly doubt they would do that. It is also comforting to know that even if you do get rejected, you don’t know if you are their second choice, and you may be contacted in the future!
Where to find job openings?
If you are a PADI Professional, head to the Employment section on the website. Here you can see open positions around the world and post a “seeking employment” advert. There are also some good Facebook groups such as Dive Jobs Worldwide and Scuba Jobs Worldwide and more. Another good way to find out about potential jobs is to keep in contact with as many people as possible in the industry. That means all those people you met during your Divemaster and your IDC. It also means the Dive Centers in the area you have done your Divemaster or IDC. If you can stay on at the center you trained then of course that makes things easier, but unfortunately it is not always possible or you may even not like the atmosphere of your current center! Make as many contacts as possible, and don’t be shy. I sent out a lot of messages telling everyone I was looking for a job and did they have any advice or know of any openings. You could even ask your diving Facebook friends to share your CV online. The world is more and more about social media, so use it to your advantage. Whilst we are on social media, be sure that your Facebook page is presentable, as more and more employers like to stalk potential employees on their social media to try to get a feel for what they are really like.
Don’t sell yourself short
After a few months of trying to find a job, you can imagine how my enthusiasm started to wane. I was on several occasions offered “Internships” and “Work for experience”. I cannot even begin to put into words how much this annoys me. I spent so much money and time to get to Instructor level, doing my Divemaster as a long internship, and then my IDC also as an internship (I do not recommend this! But when you are broke, you do these things!) By the time I was an Instructor, I had worked for 6 months, getting up at the crack of dawn, loading ridiculous amounts of tanks, putting up with some big egos and rude bosses, assisted on a lot of courses and spent every penny I had. I felt absolutely ready to start this career and had no doubt in my abilities. To be offered this kind of “work” is demeaning and cheapens the whole industry. I turned down these kinds of offers, but unfortunately, I know there are many Instructors who would snap up the opportunities. If everyone worked for free, there would be no jobs, and so by taking these positions people are bringing down the whole industry. You are a professional, have had all training needed to be an Instructor, so don’t work for peanuts.
Right place, right time
It is a waiting game, but you will find something eventually. This is what all my friends in the industry told me, and it turns out they were right. I was focussing mainly on Europe, and when the season started to arrive, I started to get offers. I am so glad I waited it out and turned down all the ridiculous offers as now I have a great job diving in Malta, with an apartment, a decent wage and some lovely colleagues. If you know where you want to be, then consider going to the destination at the start of the high season. Take copies of your CV to Dive Centers, introduce yourself, and be available for when they need a new member of staff. People are much more likely to hire a familiar face.
At times you will feel like you have wasted your time and money, and that actually you hate the industry, but eventually something decent will come your way!
Let me know in the comments what you think! Are you looking for your first job? Or have you got any advice for those who are?!
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