aviation recruiting aviation personnel

One might ask, why do hiring managers contact API? What’s their rationale?

Oftentimes, it’s because they need help with their aviation recruiting needs and have exhausted all other options on their end.

So, I’d like to share an experience that might hit a familiar chord with some of you.

An aviation director recently called us at API in need of advice.

As he described it, his Part 91 flight department had recently lost one pilot to the airlines and another to a bizav organization, mainly due to compensation.

So he went ahead and posted his two positions externally.

The result was a whopping 300 resumes—half of them from retired airline captains and a quarter from job seekers who didn’t meet the positions’ requirements.

Shortly thereafter, he said that someone forwarded him a blog post written by API’s CEO on the topic of pilot compensation.

That’s when this director realized he needed help.

He got in touch with our team and briefly explained his situation, including locations, schedule demands, dual type rating requirements and the compensation plan his organization currently has in place.

Based on the information he provided us, we told him that the position would be incredibly challenging to fill given the current market.

That is, unless his department was willing to make some adjustments to their requirements.

Understanding what was at issue, he requested further help.

“I need you to give me the tools to educate my leadership team,” he told us. “I want all of us to be able to figure out why we’re struggling, and will likely continue to struggle unless we make some changes. I need to help the team understand why it’s challenging to attract talent, especially with all of the requirements we currently expect. And I need to help them understand the competitive market for trained aviation talent.”


As a leader, what do I do about this issue?

At a recent industry meeting I attended, many aviation leaders expressed to me that a common challenge across the board for Part 91 operators is retaining talent. And so it goes for all types of roles in business aviation—not just piloting.

Educating your aviation reporting executive and your HR and internal recruiting partners is key. If they do not understand the competitive marketplace, and rely on what has worked in the past, it could likely be a long and bumpy road.

All of this leads to my main point today: If you’re ready to think outside the box—and if you’re having second thoughts about tackling an industry issue affecting more than just your department—it may be time to consider working with an outside partner.

So, following, are a few points to consider when you’re trying to decide if you should get in touch with a professional firm like ours.


Six reasons you may need aviation recruiting assistance:

1. Access to Quality Talent

First of all, examine your hiring practices track record. Ask yourself, does it come easily due to your longevity in business aviation and the breadth of your network?

Do you know how to find and recruit employed candidates who aren’t looking at the job boards?

If you discover that your “friends and family” network of potential recruits is drying up, and you don’t have the in-house resources to mount a recruitment campaign, then it’s time to find a recruiter.

A recruiter such as API can help give you access to in-demand talent who are still gainfully employed (and not merely those who are out of work and looking at the job boards).


2. Confidentiality

Although it’s not an everyday occurrence, there are those occasions when hiring for an exclusive position might need to be handled in complete confidentiality.

When that’s the case, recruiters like API that have the resources to do so are often asked to confidentially tackle search projects that are never listed on job boards.


3. Experienced Partner

Several directors I know say they don’t need a recruiter because they’ve always handled it themselves in the past.

But why try and take on a job that you’re not really well-suited for? Many of our clients come to realize that the complexities of recruiting simply aren’t their strong suits.

If you’re an aviation director and find yourself spending a great deal of your day working on bringing in new talent, retaining talent and onboarding, then it’s time to work with a skilled aviation recruiter who can serve as your “experienced partner” in this endeavor.

In fact, you’ll know you’re ready for a recruiter when you are ready to bring in a trusted partner and offset the workload. A recruiter will hear you loud and clear, listen to what your needs are, dive really deep into your culture and be your voice during the candidate search process.


4. Access to Key Information
If you’re recruiting on your own, there are many questions that are “off limits” to ask a potential candidate. I’m referring to those questions that you would like the answer to, but cannot or should not ask.

As professional recruiters, however, we are able to afford both candidates and hiring entities the transparency both want in order to make a “right fit” decision.

Our job is to paint a vivid picture of both the candidate as well as the job opportunity. We have the ability to dig more deeply into a candidate’s past and present in order to share more with a client about that person’s cultural values and work experience, as well as other details. And we can answer questions about the client that a candidate wants to know but may be afraid to ask directly.

In sum, prior to a face-to-face interview with a candidate, a recruiter will be able to provide you and your candidates with more information than either of you would likely be capable of gathering on your own.


5. Return on Investment
Many flight departments try to rationalize not hiring a recruiter because they think it’s too costly.

But if you’re handling it on your own and finding that you’re taking six months to bring someone on board, start to finish, and then you find that your candidates are jumping ship . . . well, it means that you’ve lost your investment.

Look at it this way: Even a “quick” job search can easily take three months or longer to complete. The hiring process involves confirming commitment on the job requirements and the cultural needs; researching candidates; conducting two to three interviews; evaluating a candidate in a simulator; putting together a relocation package—and scheduling all of the above.

So your investment in the process includes:

  • Your personal time to manage the hiring process from start to finish (often half of your overall time).
  • Travel expenses for several candidates to attend an in-person job interview.
  • Simulator evaluation expenses:
    • Simulator cost
    • Travel for the director, chief pilot and candidate
    • Time: coordination of up to three schedules (can take up to two weeks).
  • Salary and possible relocation

When you factor in all of these many facets of bringing a new hire on board, it’s not difficult to understand why retaining a recruiter makes good sense practically and economically for your flight department.


6. Industry expertise
API has been in business aviation exclusively for 46 years, so we know our industry and its many, many nuances. That’s why we get calls from our clients and others on a daily basis that are general in nature, not involving a particular hire. With our deep background, we’re able to provide insight.


Your Turn

Using an aviation industry recruiter makes sense from several standpoints—for the success of your operation, the well-being of your staff and, perhaps most important of all, to protect your budget and your investment.

If you have any questions or would like to share your own perspective on the need for and value of professional recruitment in today’s aviation industry, we’d love to hear from you.


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