The ‘Professional’ in Professional Pilot

professionalpilotThe word ‘professional’ when attached to the word ‘pilot’ means much more than just flight ratings and number of hours at the controls.  In my 18 years of providing career advice to professional pilots I have learned a great deal about how non-technical characteristics can help you rise to the top of the applicant pool…and ultimately allow you to achieve your highest career goals.

1. Preparedness

How well you prepared while gaining your flight ratings will be closely reviewed.  Your goal is to show your preparedness by scoring well on written tests and passing your checkrides on the first try. You can increase your chances of reaching these goals by following a few simple rules:

–Do not rush. If you are anxious to get the testing completed but something inside of you says, “I don’t feel ready” listen to your gut instinct.
–Do not take a test or checkride if you are ill.  I have had many pilots say to me, “The reason I failed is I had the flu/ cold/ headache but I wanted to get it done.”
–STUDY!  Be over prepared.  Study with your instructor or a fellow flight student until you can answer the majority of questions with confidence.
–Remember that everyone gets butterflies prior to testing.  Realize this is normal and don’t allow yourself to become consumed with worry. Focus your attention on studying.  It is amazing how much calmer you feel when you ‘know your stuff’!

If you follow the above rules and you still fail a check ride don’t despair; it happens, and sometimes to the best pilots. Your goal is then to receive a full briefing on what areas you were weak, gain additional training, and then retake the test as soon as possible.

2. Employment History

Whether a potential pilot employer is reviewing flying employment or non-aviation employment they will look closely to see if you have conducted yourself as a mature and dependable employee.  Strive to always give proper notice when needing to resign from a job.  If you have a job termination on your record, make sure you honestly review the situation, learn from your mistake, and dedicate yourself to never placing yourself in that position again.

Also, when leaving any job ask for a letter of recommendation.  You never know when it might come in handy at a future pilot interview.

3. Driving Record

Your driving record is an indicator of your ability to follow rules and regulations.  Let’s face it; a pilot’s everyday life is defined by specific parameters.  If your driving history shows an inability to follow the speed limit, park legally, or pay your car insurance on time…what does that say about your ability to follow flight rules?

Whenever you get behind the wheel say to yourself, “I need to drive this car as though it is an airplane with passengers in my care.”

4. Record Keeping

There is a lot of paperwork involved with being a professional pilot.  Your logbooks des) will be one area that will clearly show your abilities and dedication to record keeping.  Update your logbooks on a regular basis, make copies of your logbook pages and store them in a secure area. Use caution when writing in the “Comments” section of your logbook; these comments will be reviewed during an interview. (Comments such as ‘examiner was a jerk’ won’t score you any points with an interviewer.)

5. Attitude

A positive attitude, a willingness to learn from one’s mistakes, and a desire to ‘go the extra mile’ for employers are traits that can only be obtained through personal desire.

You can develop a reputation as a positive person by limiting (or eliminating) the amount of time spent on gossiping about coworkers and fellow flight students.  Learn to become a good listener.  Be willing to help others succeed. Volunteer for extra duties at your place of work (within your abilities and time constraints…don’t go overboard).

Always keep in mind that the word “professional” in Professional Pilot means much more than being just a technically qualified pilot.

If you would like to arrange a Special Concerns, Career Consulting or Interview Preparation appointment please contact Cheryl directly at 1-888-899-2243 (CAGE) or at