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.

Helpful Airline Pilot Resume Tips

Helpful Airline Pilot Resume Tips

Airline Pilot Resume Tips

 

As I was surfing the web today I came across an article titled ’10 Resume errors that will land you in the trash’. While it was never my experience that a poor resume would actually wind up in the circular file, certainly there were many that failed to catch my eye.

Airline pilot hiring is different from the corporate world. We know what your foundational skills are; you fly airplanes.  The hard part for you in convincing the reader why you should be considered over thousands of other candidates with the same underlying mechanical abilities.  You will need to sell yourself in this document, and regrettably, most of you will sell yourselves short instead.

When you attach a resume to an application or present it at a job fair the reader will, on average, spend less than 10 seconds actually reading your work. Here are a few tips to make sure that you are making the best impression possible.

  1. Don’t be flashy.  While you certainly want to be noticed, use of non-traditional fonts, paper, or other presentation creativity may not yield the intended result.  There are other ways to make yourself stand apart.
  2. Omit the references.  References should only be provided on request and are usually a part of every airline’s application.  You have limited real estate on your page, leave these out.
  3. Don’t write complete sentences.  Write short meaningful fragments that tell the reader as much as possible with very little reading.  Be sure to keep your narrative style the same throughout your descriptions.
  4. Be specific with the numbers.  Many applicants are ‘rounders’;  8000 total time, 4500 PIC.  The odds of actually having all of your numbers land on even are low, and this shows a lack of attention to detail.
  5. Don’t list your responsibilities.  This is a tough one for the average line pilot.  You will show more value to the reader by listing your accomplishments instead.  No easy task, but well worth the effort.
  6. Don’t include an objective.  In this career field, at this level, we know what you want to do.  Save the space for something that sets you apart.
  7. Spell check and proofread.  You are submitting your best representation on your best day, take the time to ensure you are free of self-induced blemishes.
  8. Don’t list your ‘cool’ email.  iminverted@yahoo.com may look good on a business card at the bar, but it doesn’t reflect well professionally.  Ditch the novelty emails.
  9. Don’t include your picture.  There are very strict laws on hiring, and placing your image on your resume reveals details about your sex, age, and ethnicity.  These details cannot be used in the hiring decision and add no value to you.
  10. Don’t get too personal.  It is OK to let your personality shine by including volunteer or other value-added experiences but leave the details about family and other interests off the page.

We look forward to working with you to make sure your resume is recruiter ready.

The Role of Attitude in the Hiring Process

The Role of Attitude in the Hiring Process

The Role of Attitude in the Hiring Process

My wife is in the food and beverage industry and there is a hiring mantra in that business that says ‘hire for attitude, train for skill.’ This doesn’t work perfectly in aviation, but it does have striking comparisons.

All pilots have a skill set that, for the most part, is fairly similar.  PIC, SIC and total time all have different numerical values for each of us, but we all have numbers in those boxes.  Attitude is a completely different animal and is not translated well on paper by most pilots. We traditionally sell ourselves short with regards to job-related performance and recognition of characteristics that make us unique.  Attitude is everything to an employer and airlines are no exception.  Simply ‘performing the duties of Captain/First Officer for airline XYZ’ says absolutely nothing to the reader of your resume about what you do that makes you different.

In my last few posts, I have focused on what NOT to do or say, so I thought I would start off the new year with some things that you SHOULD be saying on your resume. It can be summarized in two words.  Action Verbs.  Here is a link to another great article that has a wonderful list of action verbs.

Very few of you will get an opportunity to meet with an airline this year. Those of you who do will want to leave the airline with a fantastically written document that encourages a closer look at you.  For those who won’t have the opportunity for face time, your only avenues to make an impression are your resume and application.  When you are writing descriptions of what you have done or are currently doing, don’t be afraid to use action verbs to help describe your positions, accomplishments, and accolades.  These words will generate interest in your work and will most certainly set you apart from other applicants who are simply ‘working for an airline’.

2016 is projected to continue to be a very competitive year for pilot hiring, and recruiters and managers want to know what it is about you that makes you different from the other applicants on file. Take the time to make an impactful statement about who you are, what you do, and most importantly how you will add value to your next airline.

OBAP conference in Chicago

OBAP conference in Chicago

Coming Up: OBAP conference in Chicago

 

With the Women in Aviation conference in the rear view mirror, the next major event with significant recruiter attendance is the OBAP conference in Chicago in August. Just going to the conference isn’t going to set you apart from the 10,000 qualified applicants in the system, but making an impression will. As you prepare for the trek to ORD, think about two extra things:

  1. Resume presentation.  Do you look professional on paper?  Does the document reflect the accomplishments and contributions you have been making over your career?  Can you effectively sell all of the items that you have listed?
  2. Application status.  Have you applied? Is the application current and correct?  Do you look professional to the reader?

The opportunity to make a good first impression only comes once with a recruiter.  Let us help you make it a positive and impactful experience.