What Can I Do to Wait Out the Downturn?

iStock_000007650797XSmallMany of my candidates have contacted me recently in frustration wondering if they are the only ones not out interviewing.  Some are old friends who are at the Regionals, others are working for corporations, or the Fractionals, and still others are instructing.  They all have the same questions and frustrations.  The most frequent question I am being asked is what they can be doing to make themselves more marketable.  Everyone is looking to be somewhere else.  It is quite amusing to observe from the sidelines: Regional pilots are trying to go the corporate route, while corporate pilots are trying to land at the regionals, etc.  While this is interesting for me, it is evident how difficult it is trying to make it through one of the worst downturns this industry has seen.  I thought I would try and lend some advice as to what you can be doing in the meantime depending on where you are and what your situation may be.

We all know that the industry will turn around, and when it does you want to be in a good position.  What you need to remember is that when it does turn there will be a whole lot of movement.  There will be a lot of competition for only a few jobs.  If you recall, the post-911 upturn, you’ll likely remember that it was quite competitive at first.  As time went on and everyone was hiring the standards or minimums were decreased in order for the jobs to be filled.  In fact, near the end of the hiring boom Regionals such as Mesa were looking for pilots with just an instrument rating- you could obtain your commercial in the simulator!  However, that was at the end of the boom.  You don’t want to wait for the end of the next hiring boom– you want to be hired in the beginning.   That being said, here are some things you can be doing to ensure that you are ready.

Everything you do right now should be about building your resume.  Let’s start with our friends who are flight instructing.  This is the time to obtain all of the ratings you possibly can.  I have seen many pilots who just have a CFI rating and are waiting to get hired by a Regional.  They’re thinking is that they will have 1200 hours by the time the industry turns.  My question to them was: if they were hiring someone, whose resume would be more appealing?  The pilot with 1200 hours and a CFI or the pilot with 1200 hours and a CFII and an MEI rating?  You would naturally go with the one with more ratings.  By the same token you would look and see how many instruction hours he or she had accumulated in a given amount of time.  A potential employer wants to see pilots that are willing to work and fly often.  If an instructor is only accumulating a few hours a month, the employer may think he or she may not be able to handle the rigors of a full schedule.  So my advice to all the CFI’s out there is to keep cranking out the hours and get all the ratings you can.  Remember that you need to stand out on paper in comparison to your peers.

For all you pilots currently at the Regionals, you need to work on your resumes as well.  Obviously you want to try and get PIC time as soon as you can and get as much as you can.  The old 1000 or 1500 hours of PIC time that we used to know may still be a minimum but remember you are competing with other pilots who have been building time.  They may very well have over 3000 hours of PIC time.  So what can you do?  If you are a Captain and can switch types, I would recommend doing so. You can either get another type rating or, see if you can get into the training department.  Becoming a check airman or a simulator trainer will help you stand out from the rest of the pilot group.

If you are in the fractionals or the corporate flying world and want to make a move (either into the airlines or another corporate job), the same applies to you.  Get yourself in the left seat and get the type ratings.  It is important for you to build up your time.  The difference for you is that you also need to build up your contacts as well.  The corporate job world is very dependent upon contacts and referrals.

At the end of the day you need to remember that your hours and your experience are what get your foot in the door.  Once you get a call for the interview, then you need to do your homework to get that long sought-after job.  Good luck and feel to call us at Aviation Interview Prep Services if we can be of any assistance to you at 203-904-3313 or Email at Andrew@aviationinterviewprep.com