recruiting aviation talent - roll out the red carpet - hiring process

Psst! In case you haven’t heard, there’s a talent shortage out there. And, as one HR Director recently told her aviation department, “Not everyone is dying to work for us.” And, because of that, she explained that her company needs to step up and “sell” itself as an employer of choice. Just the same way a job candidate needs to “sell” his or her qualifications.

Surprisingly, many aviation organizations underestimate how a disregard for or mistreatment of candidates can affect their brand. Business aviation is a small industry. If you come across as an aloof employer when recruiting aviation talent, word will get around.

Another way to put it: Don’t assume that your candidates are so desperate to find a job that they don’t need to be respected.

Step Up Your Hiring Process

As has always been the case, it’s high time to re-evaluate how we treat prospective new hires. And make sure that we do so with kindness. That’s right, as they say in Hollywood, it’s time to roll out the red carpet. Remember that one of the chief ways that your aviation organization competes is through the hiring and onboarding process. Professional courtesy and consistency matter.

I’m not sure if we can officially call it the “Covid influence,” but, from what I hear, it seems as though some hiring managers need to step up their game. I’ve been told that several flight departments have become lax and less professional in their hiring process. But when it comes to courting candidates, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Following are a few hiring SNAFUs, based on feedback I’ve received in the recent past:

Application abyss

Does your organization have a plan for responding to candidate applications? Does everyone get a response, or does an application go into the abyss? If you have a high volume of incoming applications, it’s very do-able to set up an outgoing automated email. It’s a nice touch to help you stand out as a compassionate, thoughtful employer of choice – even if you’re letting them down easy.

Last-minute scheduling

Please do not call candidates the afternoon before and ask them to interview at 10 a.m. the next morning. It’s inconsiderate. It’s best to give at least 24-48 hours’ notice.

Wishy-washy communication

When you schedule an interview, make sure to be communicative. Let the candidate know the interview will be via phone, video conference or in person. Be specific about whom they’ll meet with, the suggested attire, and any other pertinent details. Don’t leave it up to the candidate to guess about any aspect of the meeting.

Crammed itineraries

Many hiring managers will bring in their top one or two candidates for a day or two of interviews. Just remember that when you create an itinerary, keep in mind the length of time involved. You may need to schedule in bathroom breaks and times to eat a snack. Nobody is at their best talking all day long without a pause or two to collect themselves.

No post-interview follow-up

Shocking as it may seem, many candidates who conduct a 15-minute initial phone screen with HR never get a post-call response. People deserve to know whether or not they’re advancing in the process. A simple template email will do.

Keys to Recruiting Aviation Talent

During the recruiting process, a little conscientiousness goes a long way. Here are a few tips on how to communicate with and court aviation talent:

  • Delegate: Assign someone to respond to applicants and interviewees. Most larger flight departments have an administrative person or office manager. Make sure someone on staff can create a simple email template that says, “We received your resume. If you’re qualifications fit our requirements, we’ll be in touch.”
  • Review the key players in the interview process. One HR Manager we work with takes time to prep candidates for 15-30 minutes before they meet with the leadership team. This way she’s helping the prospective employee put their best foot forward. And in turn, she is managing upward so she doesn’t waste the executives’ time. (And she looks good in the process!)
  • Do the little things. When recruiting, part of rolling out the red carpet is thinking about the candidate experience. Don’t forget they’re putting themselves out there, too. One great way to communicate is to explain how you’ll reimburse their travel expenses for their one- or two-day visit.
  • Have a backup. Make sure you identify two “A Players” and keep both interested. When recruiting aviation talent, you don’t want to release your second choice too early. After all, your top choice might not accept the offer. Then you’ve got to call back the offended number-two candidate. And that’s not an easy call to make.

Overall, it’s important to remember that small measures can have big impact. Just getting back to someone to let them know you’ve received their resume is a big part of being a competitive employer. Everyone needs a little care—and closure.


About the Author

In addition to serving as the VP of Aviation Personnel International, Jennifer Pickerel is the co-chair of NBAA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Working Group. Learn more about Jen.


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