Boring Airline Pilot Resumes

Boring Airline Pilot Resumes

Over the years I have had the opportunity to read hundreds of pilot resumes, and one common characteristic is the underselling of professional accomplishments.

Most pilots simply list a job description on their resume which usually starts off with ‘Duties include…’ or even worse, simply state Captain or First Officer with no other descriptive words. This approach fills space but does little to make you stand out from the thousands of other applicants.

Your resume is a sales tool that has to be carefully created to attract interest, interest in you! Take time to focus on what you have done to add value to your current or former company. Use those accomplishments, however seemingly small, to describe your contributions. Click here for a great article that you might find helpful.

The 4 P’s

The 4 P’s

The 4 P’s

While attending a recent career fair I heard these three words used by a recruiter when discussing strengths of applicants: Professional, Personality, and Patience.  I have a fourth P word that may be helpful, Perspective.

Professional can be widely applied and is often thought of with regard to how one appears in person or the work that they accomplish.  Stop and think about how this fits into pilot hiring; no one can see you, but they can see how you present yourself when they review your application and resume.  Over the years I have seen many different approaches to the description of duties on an application.  One of my all-time favorites was from a First Officer who described his job as a regional airline FO as ‘Assist in the duties of part 121 operations, get coffee’.  This approach is probably better suited to an application for a barista position rather than a big three airline job.  Use of unprofessional language gets noticed quickly in this business and can be a significant roadblock.

Personality is another trait that would seemingly be observed in person but alas, no one can see you yet, only your documents.  The words and phrases that you use to describe yourself are in fact an extension of your personality and you have a tremendous opportunity to let that shine.  This can be difficult on an application but is quite easy to accomplish on a resume.  Imagine a recruiter looking at 100 resumes over two days at a job fair.  It is a safe bet that nearly 90 of them are merely regurgitations of companies worked for and dates of service.  Find opportunities to showcase what makes you unique and how you have added value along the way.

Patience is the hardest one to embrace as it is often trumped by frustration.  We live in an immediate gratification world, but pilot hiring is old school, it often takes years to even get noticed.  Getting hired at a major is going to take time, and your best approach is to use that time wisely.  Do you have your college transcripts?  Are your documents current?  Have you started thinking about interview questions and stories to share?   Make sure that you are ready for the call when it comes.

Perspective can best be explained with a quick story.  After a terribly frustrating day in the office, I sat down in my mentor’s office and stated that it was hard to keep my glass half full when people keep poking holes in it.  The reply was simple and eloquent… “Charlie, you have to decide if you want to keep filling it, or let it empty.”  Don’t share with the recruiter that you can’t believe that all of your First Officers are leaving to the majors, instead, share the opportunities you have had to mentor new First Officers that will one day replace you.  It’s about perspective.

It’s like a dream vacation…

It’s like a dream vacation…

Being an airline applicant is a little like going on a dream vacation.

 

For months or even years, you have researched destinations looking at how to get there, where to stay and what to do.  Countless hours have gone into looking for the best excursions and prices, ensuring that you have packed all that you will need for the journey and examining every detail.  On your day of departure, the kids are at the grandparents, the neighbor has been briefed on how to take care of the dog, and yes, even the stove is off.  And then you get to the airport; the line for security is around the corner and when you make it to the front, the machine suddenly needs to be recalibrated.  Your arrival at the gate finds the flight moved to a different gate, on the other side of the airport.  The upgrade you were hoping for goes to someone else, and when you finally strap into that center seat in coach the Captain announces a delay to add fuel for ‘destination weather’.  A good plan has been thwarted by uncontrollable circumstances.

As pilots, we would never consider strapping ourselves into an airplane without knowing exactly where we are going, what time we are going to be where, and how much gas we are going to have when we get there.  We have plan ‘B’ and sometimes C, D & E in our pocket and have given consideration to a host of influential items.  We are in control. Being a pilot applicant for an airline is difficult.  We have no control over the scoring systems at the airlines, no influence over our selection for an interview, and no idea of where we stand in the pecking order.  Alternate plans seem despicable and, as frustration sets in, attention to detail wanes.   Refocus.

You have control of your application, your resume, and how you prepare for the interview process.  The trip you are planning for this time will last a lifetime.  The process will be much easier knowing that you have chosen to prepare.

References, Recommendations and Referrals…

References, Recommendations and Referrals…

We get lots of questions about these sections for United and Delta.  There are three specific ways that a reference or a recommendation can be made.

General References:
These are found in the blue menu of airline apps but show in the specific addendum sections.  They can be customized by the applicant for each airline, and are what I would call static.  Delta or United might reach out to them to verify you, but likely only after a CJO has been made.

Professional Recommendations:
These are commonly referred to as letters of recommendation.  The applicant initiates them from the addendum section of the application and are airline specific.  Follow the Professional Recommendations link in each airlines addendum, and then enter the email for whom you are wanting to invite to write a letter on your behalf.   Any recommendation that is written in response to the email is now ‘attached’ to your application and can be seen by both you, and the airline.  The data is not editable for typos or content, but it can be deleted by the applicant, not the airline.  If you are not sure of what the form looks like, send one to yourself by putting in your email address.

Internal Recommendation:
Unique to Delta, this is the process by which an existing Delta employee contacts pilot hiring via a specific email address and recommends that Delta score your application.  Delta tells their folks that they will score the app within four weeks from receipt of that internal email.  As far as I know, no communication from Delta back to the employee is offered, the app is simply scored and placed in the queue accordingly.