look before you leap - pair of binoculars

Imagine hearing: “I want to earn a million dollars a year flying a G650 with a tight-knit crew, travel to the most exotic destinations in the world, and work only on days that don’t conflict with my personal life.”

Sounds like pretty good deal, doesn’t it?

When considering your career, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision, and start to focus more on your dream career vs. embracing the reality of what you’re presently doing.

This dilemma has been top-of-mind for me these days, especially since Sheryl Barden, API’s CEO, published a blog earlier this year entitled “Hangar-Hopping: Is the Grass Really Greener?”

Sheryl reminded us all of the precarious state of our industry’s hiring challenges. We’re fixated on the aviation talent shortage. It’s the headline in every trade publication, the topic of sessions at all industry conferences, and discussed in pilot’s lounges across the country.

This fixation, while understandable, is forcing many of us to ask ourselves questions like:

  • Should I be making more money?
  • Could I find another job that would offer a better quality of life for myself and my family?
  • Would I be crazy not to consider going to the airlines?
  • If I don’t do something now am I going to miss my chance?

While it’s natural to ask yourself these questions, I’m urging you to use caution. An unintended consequence might be that you end up feeling more dissatisfied with your current job and antsy for change.


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A great rule of thumb is to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect” job. But there do happen to be a lot of great jobs out there.

As Sheryl concluded in her earlier blog, what you need to figure out is: Can I stay where I am and get what I want? If the answer could be “yes,” then staying put can often be the right choice.

When weighing the benefits of staying or leaving, it’s important to look at things from all angles.

Case in point, a recent candidate reported to me that he was completely burned out at work. Due to another pilot leaving, they were down to two pilots flying a dynamic international schedule on a large cabin aircraft. The balance between his personal and professional time was totally out of whack, and he was feeling used and abused. So much so that when we first spoke, he was ready to throw in the towel.

Fast forward three months, and his company has added another experienced captain to the team and our candidate is finally able to catch his breath. His work-life balance has been restored—and so has his outlook on his job.

Reflecting back on our initial conversation, the pilot expressed to me how happy he was that his emotions didn’t get the better of him during an extremely trying time. Instead of acting rashly, he took the time to let things play out and allow his company to respond to the need.

It turns out that he really loves his job, and would have regretted leaving. And, as a bonus, his company reevaluated compensation when they were hiring the third pilot and determined that the entire team should receive a pay raise.


Are You Ready to Leap?

But what if issues with your job aren’t being resolved by management, or the answer to staying or leaving seems unclear?

A few important questions to ask yourself are:

  • Why am I really considering leaving?
  • What would happen if I chose to stay?
  • Am I willing to take the risk of the unknown to make a change?
  • If I make a change, will I be the last one in and possibly the first one out if there’s a downsizing?

When you’re facing the possibility of change, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to adequately assess these questions. Not doing so might leave you with regrets.


Who Can I Talk To?

Working in an industry that sometimes feels very small (think: six degrees of separation), it can be hard to find a safe place to have an honest conversation about considering a change in employment.

Having that discussion with a boss or co-worker could be a risk. But it could also work to your advantage. If you’re truly thinking about leaving, having a conversation might offer either great insights or some much-needed closure. Your boss might remind you of the value of being—and staying—where you are. Or, on the other hand, he or she might tell you something that clears the path for your decision to leave.

In any case, that level of honest exchange might encourage them to work with you. If your goal is to grow with the company, maybe they can send you to a leadership program, such as Darden, or give you a motivating project. Knowing that you’re working on a high-value task might help you feel a part of something bigger.

Of course, having a discussion about your plans or concerns with a family member is always advised. But, as much as a family member might try to understand the nuances of business aviation, it might not be possible for them to grasp the entirety of your situation. Sometimes it’s wiser to talk to an industry insider and get their perspective.

That’s why working with a recruiter like API can be so helpful. API Registered Professionals have access to our team of experienced aviation specialists. We are experts at serving as a confidential sounding board for our candidates, and we’ve developed the ability to target our diverse industry knowledge to your individual situation.

Candidates report that having transparent conversations with our team enables them to focus their decision making on what really matters most under their unique circumstances.


Work with a Mentor

There’s also tremendous value in finding a mentor. If you don’t have one in business aviation, I suggest you seek one out. Here’s a hint: You probably already know the person who’s ideally suited to help you. Conversely, I encourage all aviation professionals to find a mentee. I promise that your reward will be just as great as theirs!


What it all boils down to is that, sometimes, if you “look before you leap,” you might indeed determine that the grass really is greener on the other side. But, on the other hand, the grass may be plenty green right where you water it.

The challenge is that the decision to stay or go isn’t as obvious as we might hope. But if you do your homework and utilize your resources, the odds of making the best decision for you, your family and your career are much greater.



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