As I emphasized in the first of this two-blog series, there’s much to be gained by paying attention to current business aviation hiring trends.
And, as I said in that blog, the most prevalent trend is for change. It’s true that, regarding recruitment and hiring practices, our industry is in constant flux, and equally true that staying on top of it as best we can is imperative to operate successfully.
Following are a few more business aviation hiring trends:
Business Skills Trump Flying Skills
When it comes to hiring someone for a VP or aviation director-level position, we’re witnessing a tendency for our clients to look outside the organization for talent—and not necessarily tap individuals from within and develop them.
These days, most corporate leaders and/or private jet owners want a well-rounded aviation business leader—someone with strong business acumen, strategic thinking and operational prowess. In fact, business and leadership skills will very much trump flying skills.
Another leadership competency for an aviation leader is to feel comfortable working alongside his or her executive’s direct reports (e.g., the head of accounting, head of security or head of facilities). Of course the aviation director must have technical experience, but they should also expect to present a justified business case and high-level performance KPIs and metrics. What they shouldn’t expect is to be left alone down at the hangar.
Learning from Others
Finding the best match for your flight department is not likely to be quick or easy. As we mentioned in a previous article, the cost to replace a “bad hire” can be as much as five times their annual salary.
That’s why you need to take sufficient time in the process to help ensure that you get it right the first time.
It’s my hope that by sharing these hiring trends I’ve gleaned from other aviation industry professionals, you’ll be able to see first-hand what it takes to recruit the best and brightest. Then, when it’s time for you to attract new talent, you can present this information to your HR and recruiting partner, and, together, determine more precisely how your future staffing decisions will best serve your executive travelers.
Recruiting New Talent
It’s always difficult for hiring organizations to get beyond someone’s interview “game face” to assess just how effective a candidate for hire they are. That’s when it becomes extremely valuable for a company such as API to come in—we already have direct access to viable, experienced aviation candidates who’ve been professionally vetted. We’ve already done the initial in-depth interview, we know the ins and outs of their background and we understand their career goals to determine if they’ll be a good cultural fit.
One thing to note is that there are many factors governing “fit.” I’ve observed individuals who were superb cultural fits and, when a new manager came in, the culture changed and the “fit” no longer worked. That’s one reason why cultural and work style testing is becoming more of a factor in helping to find the right fit. Big and small companies are using a variety of work style tests (Kolbe, Disc, Birkman, Predictive Index, et al) and, rightly or wrongly, some applicants whose test results aren’t aligned with candidate profiles aren’t even invited for an interview.
Today, any corporate flight department that wants to hire quality talent is really limiting itself if it’s not prepared to offer a fair and competitive compensation and relocation package. In some cases, there simply aren’t enough qualified candidates in the hiring pool, so candidates end up sifting through multiple offers.
These days, companies need to move swiftly with a competitive offer if they want to scoop up top talent.
Business aviation pilots, particularly those who’ve amassed debt to pay for their own training, are holding out for salaries that match their experience and are commensurate with their peers.
And regarding compensation perks, flight department leaders are offering sign-on bonuses to buy out training contracts and/or unvested compensation, essentially removing the “cost” to the candidate of making a job switch. We see this happening largely with low-time pilots who have tremendous potential. If they have a two- or three-year training contract, they’re getting sign-on bonuses to handle that payback.
Of course, diversity is a big issue now, as well it should be.
Overall, there are very few organizations that are not being compelled by the highest levels of the company to find diverse candidates when it comes to race, ethnicity and gender.
HR is pushing recruiting for diversity. Recruiting is pushing flight departments for diversity. And, in turn, flight departments are pushing our team here at API. The unfortunate issue is that there simply are not enough diverse candidates in the talent pool. And, that my friends, is a topic for an entirely separate article…
What hiring trends are you experiencing as a business aviation hiring manager or candidate? We hope you’ll share your comments below.