How to apply for a job in a dive center?

Why do you want a job in a dive center?

Before entering into details and tips on how to apply for a job, think about why you want to apply for it. For the newbies in the industry, just became a Dive Master or recently went through the instructor certification process, applying for a first job is always a challenge. The oldies tend more to follow the touristic seasons and switch employees at the end of the season.

Regardless where you rank yourself, below you will find some valuable advise to have your application stick out.

Some background

Most dive center owners will confirm that the hiring process is a long and frustrating one. Whenever we announce an open position, regardless of the media we post it at, we receive plenty of applications that by far do not meet the requirements. We take the ethics to reply to all of them, but believe it, it is time consuming and seen the high volume, we may overlook the prefect candidate. Most of the dive centers will disregard the resumes that do not match the criteria without notification. So if you want your CV not to end up on the pile, just continue reading…

What to do when you apply?

Get prepared

Each dive center has it’s own identity, message, size, approach, … When applying for a job, do at least some lookup on what the center stands for. The information you can use is immense: website, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google Plus, Instagram,… quite often provides you all the information:

  • The size of the operation, understand a small family-run center is not the same as a center that is part of a group or a big player
  • The customer focus, who are their customers, what languages do they support or teach in
  • The type of activities offered (guided dives, boat or shore dives, courses, shop, …)

Select your target employer

Once you have the info on the center, validate your competences, experience and expectations to find the match. Be aware that having worked in the industry for more then 15 years, have been promoting dive center at dive shows or having been a lead instructor on a live-aboard may be a perfect fit for big organisations but can be a show stopper for smaller centers, regardless of what you are looking for.

Wanting to change your work environment or trying to extend your experience in a different type of operation, be ready to motivate your application in the guiding letter or email to your resume.

Have a good resume

Keep your resume simple,  ideally one page, maximum two. Double check your  contact details to make sure they are correct!
Only include work experience prior to becoming a dive instructor if it is relevant to the center where you apply. Centers will welcome experience in the tourist industry, dealing with customers or any commercial luggage ; having worked as  a carpenter or IT expert may not have any value for your future employer.
The center is not interested in the number of dives you did (as an instructor we expect you to know how to dive) but we are interested in the number of certifications done and for what courses. It is important for the center to see you are competent in teaching all levels of diving.

A good resume must include:

  • Contact details (including social media like FaceBook and Instagram)
  • Your date of birth
  • Current location
  • Where and when you did your instructor course
  • Your instructor number
  • What specialties you are certified for as instructor
  • What have you been teaching (number of certs per course)
  • What languages you speak and can teach in
  • What other (relevant) qualifications and (relevant) skills you have

Include a recent picture of your whole person, not just the face. Mention if you have tattoos, some centers are sensitive to it!

Guiding letter or email

Clearly state your motivation for the application and be clear about your expectations. A center looking for staff to cover the season may not be interesting if you are looking for a long time job or reverse.

As sales is important in the dive industry you might highlight your experience in this matter. A dive center is not a charity organisation and we all expect our staff to sell courses and excursion. Note social media is key to the dive center business, so be ready to motivate customers to leave a TripAdvisor or Facebook  reviews and tag you and the dive shop in their Facebook and Instagram posts.
You must be able and willing to take your students back to the dive shop and make them want to buy that logbook, T-Shirt or mask strap!

How the center (should) react on your application?

As always respect comes from both sides. As such a center should always reply to a suitable application, whether your application is accepted or not. Note the center will have a look at all application, definitely if they are in hiring state. Besides your resume and application, they will decide who they will be talking to.

Your Facebook and Instagram

The social media offers the centers (as well as all companies hiring new employees) a rich source of background information. If you posted only pictures of drunken parties, only pictures of your dog or  pictures you touching marine life, the center will find out and will use it to weight your application.

References

If you provide references, the center might contact the people. Therefor make sure the people you use as a reference are aware you mention them in your application.

The interview and the decision

If you pass the selection process, the center will invite your for an interview. We understand the business is worldwide, so be ready to setup a video call for the interview. If you know upfront internet connectivity is an issue in your area, tell it in your application (if not it might sound as an excuse).

If you do get a reply, react back promptly. Never answer “I have to think about it”, or “I need some time to take a decision”….. By the time you decide, the position may already be filled….

Some final thoughts

Know the diving industry is fun to work in, it’s all about passion.  Just have a look at our blog Working in the industry. Don’t expect to become a millionaire working as an instructor or a dive master. If you want to earn big money, forget the diving sector and go back to or stay at your nine to five, well-paid, secure job.
Good luck in your job hunt. And if you ever want to come and work for us, you know what to do 😊

 

Divers and Ears: a question of equalizing

Equalizing your ears is one of the first skills that new divers learn and that we practice on every single dive. While building up dives, equalization becomes almost instinctive for many divers. For some divers equalizing remains difficult, frustrating and even painful.

Let’s have a look into the process, the techniques and what can make equalizing problematic.

The anatomy of the human ear

Without going in too many details, the human ear can be segmented in 3 major parts: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

The outer ear is at the surface filled with air. When being submerged, our outer ear fills with water and does not cause any issues. The inner ear is filled with body fluids. As a liquid is almost non-compressible, the inner does seldom cause an issue when diving. The middle ear is a dead air space filled with air. When diving the air in the middle ear is getting compressed and puts the ear drum and the inner soft tissues under pressure. It are these pressure changes you experience during scuba diving. As we descend, the surrounding pressure increases, while the pressure in your middle ear remains the same. The imbalance can cause extreme discomfort.

Through equalization we re-balance the pressure in our middle ear by increasing or decreasing the gas pressure in order to match the pressure at depth. We do this though the Eustachian tube which connects the middle ear with our nose.

Inner Ear

The Eustachian tube

The Eustachian tube makes the connection between our middle ear and our nose. As we are breathing gas at depth, our nose contains air at the same pressure as the environment. The Eustachian tube is made of and surrounded by soft tissue. You can look at it as a balloon. When the pressure in the balloon is higher that the surrounding pressure, the excess air will easily come out. This is what typically happens when you are ascending during the dive. When descending, the balloon holds gas at a lower pressure, pushing the sides to each other thus blocking air flowing into it. In order to equalize the pressure, you must force the sites to open up and let air flow into the balloon.

Equalization techniques

The Valsalva Maneuver is the most common method and the one you probably learned during your certification. This involves pinching your nose and blowing gently (like blowing your nose in a handkerchief), thereby forcing air to move along the Eustachian tubes and into your middle ear. The excess pressure from the lower part of the Eustachian tube is forced open and allows air to flow in the middle ear. It is effective as long as you use it in a timely fashion. However, if you wait until discomfort occurs to try equalizing this way, it often doesn’t work. If the outside pressure becomes too great, the Eustachian cushions become “locked” shut – and no amount of air will open them. Instead, if you blow too hard, you risk causing damage to your inner ear tissues.

An alternative is to try pinching your nose and swallowing (a method known as the Toynbee Maneuver), or moving your jaw as if you’re about to yawn. These techniques use the throat muscles rather than air pressure to open the Eustachian cushion and are usually more effective if the valves are already locked shut. Of course, the easiest way to avoid this problem in the first place is to equalize before the pressure becomes too great, i.e. every meter of your descent, or before experiencing discomfort.

Checklist for effective equalization

  • Listen for the “pop”
    Before going for a dive, make sure that when you swallow you hear a “pop” in both ears. This tells you both Eustachian tubes are opening.
  • Take  it slowly
    Never continue to dive if you feel pain in your ears. Take it slow and attempt to equalize. Don’t let your buddy or your dive guide put you under pressure.
  • Start early
    Before the dive, begin gently equalizing your ears every few minutes. Chewing gum seems to help because it makes you swallow often.
  • Equalize at the surface
    Pre-pressurizing at the surface helps most divers get past the critical first few meter of descent. It may also inflate your Eustachian tubes so they are slightly bigger. Although not proven to be the most efficient,  it’s worth trying it out to see if it helps you.
  • Descend feet first
    Studies have shown a Valsalva Maneuver requires 50 percent more force when you’re in a head-down position than head-up.
  • Look up
    Extending your neck tends to open your Eustachian tubes.
  • Use a descent line
    Pulling yourself down an anchor line helps control your descent rate. It also helps you stop your descent if you feel pressure.
  • Stay ahead
    Equalize often, trying to maintain a slight positive pressure in your middle ears. Don’t wait until you feel pressure or pain.
  • Stop if it hurts
    Your Eustachian tubes are probably locked shut by pressure differential. Ascend a little bit and try equalizing again.
  • Avoid milk
    Some foods, including milk, can increase your mucus production.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol
    Both tobacco smoke and alcohol irritate your mucus membranes, promoting more mucus that can block your Eustachian tubes.
  • Keep your mask clear
    Water up your nose can irritate your mucus membranes, which then produce more of the stuff that clogs.

 

Refresh your diving skills

Why would I need a scuba refresh?

Everybody has experienced it. You are on a diving excursion and one of your fellow divers is not at the level expected. It typically starts with the preparation of the dive kit. It takes ages to get prepared, requires the full attention of the dive centre staff and the person is obviously very nervous. Once ready, limited attention is given to the dive briefing. You now upfront this is going to be a hard one.

Having a good up to date knowledge and practice, handling of dive gear and understanding of diving procedures is key to fully enjoy your dives. Nevertheless we see divers in our centre regularly that are lacking at least one of these as they have not been diving for a while, regardless of the reasons, or do not feel confident. Besides the fact these divers increase the risks when taking them diving, they typically spoil the dives of the regular divers.

The same quite often applies for active divers that decided recently to make major changes to their dive equipment. Not sure how to use the new equipment or lacking practice with it, they easily shift the focus to the new kit as opposed to the diving while being under water.

When you recognize yourself in any of the above statement, it might be wise to talk to the dive centre and agree on a refresher course.

What’s in it for me?

Get back into it

Over time unused scuba knowledge fades. We as dive centre expect certified divers to safely plan and execute dives in accordance with their qualification. Planning a dive, controlling your bottom time, master your buoyancy and performing a correct safety stop are key to any dive. Understanding in-water safety procedures such as correct buddy procedures and what to do in case of diver separation are mandatory to conduct dives in a safe and controlled manner. During a refresher course we will go through all the steps of a dive and help to bring you back up to speed on all these aspects.

Understand and manage your own dive gear

Most dive centres require certified divers to assemble and disassemble their own dive gear, check and adjust your weights and make sure all is functioning correctly. A lot of attention on getting your dive equipment sorted out is given during the refresher session in order for you to fully master it.

Refreshing skills and routine

Any dive professional is ready to help you rehears the required scuba skills. Believe us, quite often small, forgotten things can cause major issues during a dive, ruining the dive for everybody. Sometimes they can even cause dangerous situations. Doing a refresher course allows you to rehears all the required skills thus reducing the risks of major issues afterwards. After the skill rehearsal you will start thinking as a diver again!

For the diver having changed his dive gear, these sessions allow you to build confidence in the use of your newly acquired gear while practicing with your instructor. He will be happy to help you out with any issue and even demonstrate how to use the equipment correctly.

Practice in a controlled environment

Scuba diving is not risk free and if something goes wrong, there is a risk attached. It’s critical for the safety of you and your dive buddy to know what to do if you find yourself in a low-on-air emergency situation. Strangely though, certified divers rarely practice these skills. Running through the skills under the supervision of an instructor allows you to practice them in a safe, risk-free environment so that they become more instinctive in the unlikely event something does go wrong.

Build confidence

As a certified diver you understand that being stressed for a dive is not the best option. When not having been diving for a while or you made some major changes in your dive gear, you will get nervous as you get closer to hitting the water. The higher your heart-rate gets, the more the stress will build up. This will have a negative impact not only on your air consumption, but might cause you not to react correctly on events during the dive. Practicing in a confined and controlled environment under the direct guidance of a pro will give you the confidence required and reduce the pre-dive stress. You will be able to fully enjoy the dive and reduce the risks for you and your fellow divers.

Get to know your guides

Quite often the pros assisting you during the refresher course are also the divers that will guide the dives. Getting to know each other and building report during the refresher course will help for the real dives. In addition these pros have tons of dives and know the environment you will be diving in by heart. Enjoy the refresher course to gather valuable information and get fully prepared to discover the underwater world at 100%.

Some final thoughts

All divers learn during their basic diving course, regardless from the agency, that a refresher is required when you did not dive for somewhere between 6 to 12 months. Experience teaches us that the person asking for a refresher course is often the least needing it. Quite some divers over estimate themselves and are confident a refresher course or even just a refresher dive is not required. Once they come into the centre and are requested to start preparing their gear we know how late it is. Please think twice before joining a dive and be critical on yourself, it will increase the safety for yourself, your fellow divers and your guides.

Regardless of the recommendations of the dive associations, each diver should make a critical evaluation of his ability to manage a dive end-to-end. Some divers may need some assistance to safely re-enter the water way sooner as others. The recommendations are just a rule of thumb but each should in the first place do an honest self-assessment. Believe us, as dive professionals we will not judge anybody requesting assistance to re-enter, just the opposite. At the end it is all about making sure dives are fun and enjoyable and can be conducted in the safest way possible.

Where is my buddy?

The buddy system

As recreational divers we learned it is advised to always dive with a buddy. Diving with a buddy makes diving more fun, safer and is in some countries even a legal requirement. The idea behind it is based on the fact that with two it is easier and less stressful to manage difficult situations or emergencies during the dive. We also learned the correct functioning of the buddy system is a mutual responsibility.

Despite our training, incidents of divers becoming separated are not unusual. Whether consciously or by accident, divers can end up alone underwater during various phases of a dive and sometimes it results in potentially dangerous situations.

The buddy system described

“The buddy system is the situation which occurs when two divers of similar interest and equal experience and ability share a dive, continuously monitoring each other throughout the entry, the dive and the exit, and remaining within such distance that they could render immediate assistance to each other if required.”

—  Definition by Bob Halstead, Line dancing and the buddy system

From the definition we learn that the divers within a buddy team share similar experience, interest and skills and they monitor each other throughout the dive. When an emergency occurs they are ready to help each other in order to avoid major issue.

A good buddy team agree on a dive planning, roles during the dive, signals to be used and a realistic objective prior to the dive. Each buddy members familiarizes with and checks his partners dive equipment in order to be able to deal with unforeseen events such as an out-of-air scenario.

When diving in a group, the group leader should make sure all divers are aware of their buddy and that the group dive plan matches the plans of the individual buddy teams. It is good practice for a dive leader to re-emphasis each diver’s responsibility for his buddy team.

Why does it go wrong?

Divers become separated for many reasons. Dive buddies are dealing with things that absorb their attention, and as a result fail to properly monitor each other. When divers are only focused on their underwater task like underwater photography, a separation from their buddy system is likely. Despite a good agreement prior to the dive, environmental conditions, visibility, equipment problems and diver attitude can all lead to separated buddies.

Buddy Separation Procedure

Stop, Think and Act

Stop swimming and remain where you are. Panic is your worst adviser. Look around for about 1 minute to see if you can find your buddy. Do this by rotating 360° slowly. Things to look for are bubbles (remember, only humans make bubbles under water), unusual colours under water (yellow fins, dive lights, …). While doing your search, make sure your buddy can see you. Slowly moving your own diving torch up and down will make you more visible for your buddy. Also making a sound (banging your knife on your tank for example) will give him some idea of direction.

Ascend, Safety Stop, Surface.

After you spend a minute of looking for your buddy, your next step is to ascend slowly to the depth of about 5m. When you reach the 5m, deploy your surface marker buoy (SMB) to help your buddy who may already be at the surface know where you are while doing your safety stop. If you do not have an SMB (which should not be the case as an SMB is a standard equipment for each diver) you might consider skipping your safety stop.
Also during your safety stop, keep looking out for your buddy doing slow 360° surveys.

Surface – Bubbles

When you reach the surface, look for nearby bubbles and look below you. Call out to your buddy several times. If you and your buddy had a dive plan, your buddy will be doing the same procedure as you and will appear at the surface close to where you are. If water conditions are not favorable return to the dive boat and report your missing buddy.

Return to the dive boat or shore.

In your dive plan with your buddy, you would know how long to wait at the surface, if the time exceeds that limit (it should only be a couple of minutes), make your way back to the dive boat and report your buddy as missing.

How to prevent buddy separation?

The buddy system is important in recreational diving and when it fails risks are imminent. Following guidelines can help to avoid losing your buddy:

  • Include buddy separation risks when planning dives, and make certain that the dive objective, the used equipment and the dive conditions do not increase the risk of separation.
  • Remember the dive begins once you step in the water. As such you both go down together!
  • When diving in a group, don’t assume that everyone is looking out for each another. Each diver should have a buddy and conscientiously monitor that person.
  • Avoid dive plans that are inherent in buddies to separate. In case of a Search and Recovery for example, make sure buddies can communicate using a line when distance between them increases.
  • Distraction leads to separation. In case it’s part of the dive objective (e.g. one is doing underwater photography) the non-acting buddy will stay in close contact.
  • When one diver leads and the other follows, the “lead” diver should never assume that the “follower” is following. Maintain visual or body contact throughout the dive.
  • Don’t assume the dive has ended once you reach the safety stop. It doesn’t end until all divers are out of the water.

 

Being hooked up….

As divers we have a passion for being under water, so the term “being hooked on” can be looked at in a positive way. Despite this, and being under water often, “being hooked on” has a very negative meaning to us.
In the recent months we see an increasing amount of marine life suffering from fishing hooks and lines. Recently, diving a wonderful volcanic reef close to the shore we discovered a giant stingray. We expected it to take off as soon as we came closer, but it did not. It was hardly moving and was clearly exhausted. We discovered it was hooked on a line which was entangled in the reef. Apparently (or that is what we concluded) it was caught on a fishing hook but the line snapped. Dragging the line along, it got entangled. The poor animal tried desperately getting loose and finally gave up by lack of energy and probably close to starvation. As we were unable to remove the hook, we cut the line as close to the hook as possible and let it swim off. We hope it survives and regains its full energy despite the hook still being in. Of course we cleaned up the fishing line before continuing in our dive.

Being hooked on...
Late last week we had another close encounter. Diving on our Artificial Reef, a 24m dive, we discovered a beautiful sea turtle lying quietly on the seabed. Swimming over we noticed the turtle was not moving. Getting closer we spotted a thick fishing line with some very heavy weights on (about 1.5 kg). The line ran immediately towards the turtle. Following the line we discovered a giant fishing hook going straight to the neck of the turtle. It could not have been death for a long time as the body decomposition did not yet start. Apparently it got caught by the hook and the line snapped taking all the weight down. Due to the weight the poor animal was unable to surface for air and suffocated. A tragic end for a very nice and protected sea creature…
We can tell about many more of these events but I guess you all get the point. We understand everybody wants to make a living but seen the cruelty we are confronted with on a regular basis we are wondering if there are not more environmental friendly ways to do game fishing. If nothing changes, more species will be endangered for disappearing and at the end everyone will loose.
So next time you are being hooked on, think twice and think about the collateral damage it might cause.