job search while unemployed man looking at crossroads

Imagine arriving at work on Monday morning and being told that your job has been eliminated due to recent budget cuts. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Does panic mode set, in or do you stay cool as a cucumber?

Who is the first person you call—aside from your significant other—an industry colleague, a former coworker or an industry recruiter, like Aviation Personnel International?

If you ever find yourself out of a job, the best advice I can offer you is to stay focused and take action.

It’s very likely that you’ve done nothing wrong—there are all sorts of reasons for being let go. But, remember: employers do hire the unemployed. It happens every day. I’m here to tell you honestly that it’s not an easy process. The good news, however, is that there are a lot of things you can do to help yourself and your situation when you find yourself unemployed.

Here are 12 tips for the unemployed:

1. Update your information.

Is your résumé and LinkedIn profile current? There’s no time like the present to update your professional documents. And be sure to pay attention to details like grammar, punctuation and spelling. Plus, remember to use key words when writing about your skills and experience (e.g., Airline Transport Pilot, Airframe & Powerplant, Certified Aviation Manager), as it’s more helpful to employers and recruiters who use electronic scanning devices to screen and rank candidates. You’ll also want to customize your résumé for each job you apply for, and include specific words from the job posting. Do this and your résumé will come up higher in employer searches.

2. Do your research.

What are the companies that you’d like to work for? Make a “top 10” list and visit every company’s website so you can read about its mission/vision/values, products and services, leadership team, locations and industry news. If a potential employer is publicly traded in the U.S., you can download the company’s Form 10K and 10Q, which provide a wealth of strategic information on the firm’s financials, competition, products, etc.

3. Talk with a recruiter.

Utilizing a specialized recruiting firm is a no-cost career development opportunity that is a tool every business aviation professional must keep in his/her back pocket. Apply online as an API Registered Professional™ and share your credentials with us. There’s no fee. Things may change in your life, so we always want to have a current profile in our database to contact you if and when an opportunity arises.

4. Network.

Visit API’s offices in San Francisco or meet us at a business aviation event, attend your local NBAA regional meetings every month, register to attend NBAA’s annual Business Aviation Exhibition & Convention. Here are great networking blogs here and here.

5. Be humble.

Look for coaching/mentoring opportunities and listen to objective advice from your family, friends and mentors.

6. Take a class.

Are you current on your technical training? Could you use some professional development in areas such as management, finance/accounting or leadership? There are many scholarships available for aviation professionals. Just do a quick online search, and you’ll find terrific opportunities for training, some of them free of charge.

7. Volunteer.

Our industry is chock-full of opportunities to get involved. Talk to organizations like the National Business Aviation Association, Women in Corporation Aviation, Flight Safety Foundation, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association or a local/regional pilots group.

Surely you can find a role that will allow you to participate from home while expanding your network.

8. Take a contract assignment.

Many pilots and flight attendants go down this path at one point or another; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s a great way to network and show companies that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep your skills current.

According to Andy Teach, the author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, “If you do a great job, even if it’s for a temporary job, whoever hired you is more likely to recommend you for a permanent position.”

9. Google yourself.

It’s important to research your first and last name using the three most popular search engines: Google Images, Google Web and Google video.

What do you see that might turn off a recruiter or hiring manager? Make sure that there are no unflattering images, videos or social media posts.

10. Know your current events.

If you’re not already subscribing to NBAA Weekly Update, Aviation International News, Business Jet Traveler, Aviation Week and other business aviation trade magazines and newsletters, start now.

When you’re up-to-speed on the current topics in our industry, you’ll be better informed about who is hiring, what trends are happening and you’ll be able to be more conversant on these topics in your interviews.

11. Follow up.

Be persistent and patient with recruiters and potential employers. Call or email to follow up every few weeks or months. And, if you do speak with someone on the phone or in person, send an email or—even better—a handwritten thank you note. It will make you stand out from the crowd.

12. Be realistic.

Keep in mind that the hiring process often takes four months from start to finish. When you do start getting interviews, people might ask you, “What have you been doing since you’ve been unemployed?” Discussing your current situation can be tough but try and stay positive. Having a great answer to this question is key.

Make sure to tell them about your focus on volunteerism, professional development, mentoring, attendance at industry events and knowledge of the inner workings of our industry as well as any contract assignments you’ve undertaken.


As you likely know, most people don’t get jobs overnight. The job search process takes time and persistence. Jobs don’t fall out of the sky. Remember, however, that you can expect to get out of the process what you put in.

Your Turn

Do you have advice for other job seekers? Please leave a comment below as we’d love to hear from you.

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