The process of applying for your next aviation career opportunity has been turned inside out and upside down. We have the internet to thank for this! But understanding the most effective approach can be daunting for aviation professionals.
While it may be easier and faster to apply online for aviation industry jobs, is it the most efficient use of your time?
Should you leverage your existing network in business aviation?
Or, would you have more success taking a longer-term approach and teaming up with aviation placement agency like API?
There are pros and cons to all of the above, and determining the best approach isn’t always clear.
The answer isn’t necessarily a singular one. Rather, it likely takes a blend of all of these methods when finding a new job.
Define Your Personal Best Path
Here at Aviation Personnel International, we help each business aviation candidate identify their own personal “best path” depending on their unique goals.
Then, if it makes sense that we partner together over a longer time period, our API Registered Professional program helps prepare them to take what might well be one of the most important steps in their career.
One of the many benefits of working with an aviation placement agency such as ours, is that we often learn about new job opportunities before they’re posted online. In fact, API exclusively fills many of our high-end clients’ projects, so they are never posted online.
Following are a few important guidelines for taking that all-important, potentially life-changing step to “package” you for the job market. (These are some of tips you should receive when you work with a specialized aviation recruiter).
Start Job Searching While You’re Still Employed
If you’re already in a solid professional position, it makes it that much easier to work yourself into another job.
Simply put, you’re more attractive to prospective hiring managers when you’re already employed.
So take a proactive approach if you think you might be wanting to make a change in the next six months to two years. Put out your feelers well before then. It’s up to you to make the first move instead of waiting until an opportunity comes knocking.
In my role, I often speak to people who are currently out of work, and I can usually pick up on the sense of urgency in their voice.
Although it is sometimes unavoidable, it’s much more engaging and far easier to speak with someone who’s not meeting you from a position of uncertainty or desperation.
Work your Referral Network
It’s critical to network when you’re looking for a job because referrals are huge. Leads from within a job seeker’s network represent 30-50 percent of hires in the U.S.
If you know someone who works at a flight department you’re interested in working for, you have a whopping 70-80 percent better chance of getting a job.
That’s right! If a current employee from your target company refers you, your chances improve five times from what they would be if you applied “cold” to the company.
This level of trust also comes as a result of working with API.
When we introduce candidates to our clients, it’s because we’ve taken the time to get to know them, learn about what motivates them, and understand their current job situation/job search. That way, when we discuss a candidate’s qualifications with our client, it gives the hiring company a sense that they already know the person. They trust our recommendations.
For those select few candidates who do get presented to one of our clients, we make sure that our client “sees” each individual—in a way they would never be able to if their resume was sitting deep within a pile of them on their desk.
Research Decision Makers
If you don’t have a personal connection, and aren’t already working with a recruiter, you’ll need to conduct your own research to learn the names and titles of the likely decision makers. (Use online tools such as LinkedIn and your own network to help you find out.)
If you don’t happen to know someone on the target company’s team, try and learn as much about them as you can through an industry connection, acquaintance or by other means.
This API blog on company research will help you too.
Dig into the Company Culture
You’ll always hear us talk about making the right cultural fit. That’s one of the biggest reasons our aviation clients hire us to make their placements. Well, that and the fact that we’re really good at what we do!
And if you’re wondering what we mean by a “cultural fit,” we’re referring to the close professional and collegial bond of flight department members and their prospective new hires.
Custom-tailor Resumes and Cover Letters
No matter which method you choose for finding a new job, you need a solid, professional, well-written resume at-the- ready.
If you choose to apply online, put in the time to custom tailor your resume for each position. That way you know exactly what you’ve applied for and to whom.
Be sure to provide those “keywords” and phrases that you’ve picked up from the ad itself. For example, if your target company is looking for an “international captain,” make sure to include that very phrase in your resume if it matches your qualifications.
A word of caution when using automated resume engines: These services will automatically send off your resume if it “matches” your experience with an online listing—possibly without you even knowing it. But your resume will be in a pile with hundreds of others and will be buried without the customization that recruiters are looking for.
Instead, be selective about where you send your resume and send a tailored cover letter.
By the way… we love cover letters here at API. Why? If your customized cover letter is done well, it will catch our eye and garner your resume a closer look.
In one recent example, a job seeker personalized his note to our President, Sheryl Barden, effectively saying, “This is who I am, this is what I’m looking for and this is what I can bring to a potential employer.”
Similarly, make sure your entire job posting response package—cover letter, resume and related documents—is on target, using keywords, and that it is as free as possible of typos, misspellings, grammar problems and other errors.
Use proper sentence structure, but try not to sound too stuffy or wooden. Make your response “relatable.”
Here at API, our aviation recruiting team wants each candidate to be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and in written form. Make sure to have a couple of additional pairs of eyes look over your response package and proofread it before sending.
And, by all means, follow directions from your recruiter or the prospective employer.
For example, if you’re given explicit directions (e.g., “respond via email by putting the words ‘International Captain Application’ in the subject line”), and you don’t follow them, what does that say about your follow-through? It might seem like a small detail, but it can actually be quite telling for the recruiters evaluating resumes.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media, an almighty force in today’s aviation job-seeking business, sits out there just waiting for you to tap into its power to help you fine-tune your job search.
But, like any tool, it has to be used correctly to avoid some potential pitfalls inherent in the medium itself. Take a look at our social media blog to help guide you toward some commonsense uses of the medium.
Remember, at API we vet our candidates on social media before deciding if they are presentable to our clients. Make sure you are who you claim to be without embellishing the facts (i.e., FAA license, A+P license, medical license, education, etc).
And, don’t forget to maintain as visible a presence as you can, posting relevant information and inquiries on industry boards and group sites, such as NBAA Air Mail.
Again, the API Registered Professional program can open doors for you that you never knew existed, to help you stand out and increase your chances of being offered a position—the RIGHT position, the one with the potential to change your life.