How to Be an “Employer of Choice” in Business Aviation
Are you considered an “employer of choice”?
That is, do you have the right compensation, benefits, schedule and positive culture? Enough so that when you post a job opening, the best pilots and maintenance pros are knocking at your door?
Here at API, our phones tend to ring when a flight department leader is having hiring challenges. When they know something isn’t working and they need to make changes.
We often hear from prospective clients after they lose key talent. Or, if they’re struggling to find the right cultural fit.
Earlier this summer, an aviation director called us for recruiting and compensation guidance. “We need to hire two pilots,” he said, “but we want to confirm where we need to be from a compensation perspective.”
Project requests like this are some of the most gratifying. That’s because we’re able to dig in and show our value, and deliver honest, informative data and advice.
Not to mention that we want to work with employers who understand the benefits of working with experts.
Are You Open to Change?
As you know, the aviation talent shortage is a hot topic. And competition for the best and brightest is fierce.
Gone are the days of “posting and praying” that “Mr. or Ms. Perfect Candidate” will appear in the interview chair.
So, this is a bit of a wake-up call.
Especially for those departments who haven’t stepped up their recruiting game. It’s essential to know what type of transformation that’s required to attract quality talent. (And in a reasonable timeframe.)
“Employer of Choice” Case Study
Here’s how it all started…
This particular client reached out for both compensation consulting and recruitment for new pilots. While they had past success hiring local talent (and have capable in-house HR and compensation teams), the aviation director knew that recruiting pilots in this, as he described it, “tough job market is specialized enough, and far-reaching enough,” that he needed API’s expertise.
“Given the competitive job market,” the director explained, “I knew we needed to expand the search nationally.” His reasoning for coming to API was to get an accurate compensation analysis. “We want to be at (or better than) competitive market rates,” he said.
“We reviewed the compensation analysis and Sheryl helped my reporting executive and me determine ‘What does it really mean?,’ he explained. “We were able to get buy-in on a new compensation plan rather quickly.”
Assessing the Big Picture
As we conducted our thorough “Environmental Assessment,” we peeled back the onion to uncover that they had high expectations for recruits.
They were looking for the “crème de la crème candidates,” but lacked the competitive edge to attract them. As an example, the had traditionally sought pilots who were:
- Within a specific window of “years of experience.”
- Local to the area.
- Able to work a somewhat unpredictable schedule.
During API’s Environmental Assessment, I was onsite with the flight department to meet everyone on the team. It was at that time that I requested “big-picture” meetings with both the director and his reporting executive.
I explained that, based on my findings, the leadership team would need to address the busy schedule (a quality of life issue) as well as compensation. Gratefully, the director made headway and came back with a completely restructured offering. It included a:
- Much more competitive compensation package.
- Thorough understanding of the leadership team’s travel expectations.
- Requisition to hire two more pilots to right-size the staff.
- Commitment to extend the bounds of the geographical area.
In working through these challenges, our API team helped them shift both their quality of life/schedule and compensation structure.
In working through these challenges, our API team helped them shift both their quality of life/schedule and compensation structure. And, in the end, they got approval to hire four candidates instead of two.
We’re happy to report that this project was a “win-win.” This company’s success story was due to the hiring authorities opening themselves up to feedback.
And, as a result, they made the necessary transformation required to become an enviable employer of choice.
Mind you, these are not easy steps to take, and we have tremendous respect for our clients who “do the work.” I love the quote by Julian Hall that says, “If your business partners aren’t working as hard as you, it’s not a partnership, it’s a sinking ship.”
How to Ask for Help
Are you wondering if and how you could start attracting more qualified talent?
To begin, take an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself “Are we an employer of choice? Is this a competitive place to work?”
If the answers are “no,” you might want to consider these questions:
- How do you know you need help?
- Whom should you engage to consult with and make the necessary changes?
- When you do engage, how can you best partner with a third-party consultant?
- What makes for a strong partnership with them, that will yield the results you need?
- And, lastly, how can you learn to trust another party with “your baby”?
Yes, it’s difficult to ask for help. But in doing so, be open-minded and willing to hear feedback (even if it’s critical). And also be open to making some key changes.
And, of course, you should always remember that there’s a great rationale and a distinct advantage in working with an aviation recruiter such as API. That third-party consultant can become an excellent partner in your cause. At the very least, they can bring you the benefit of their exceptional industry expertise.
We know from long experience that you can offer constructive advice to your company management time and time again, but when it comes primarily from you it may get overlooked. But when that advice comes from an experienced outsider, that “outside voice” can bring real validation.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a snippet from a recent conversation with the aviation director (one of the many compliments he offered to API): “I don’t do this every day, but you do. Your team brought a lot of perspective, which I found very helpful. You did an outstanding job.”