Sunday, September 10, 2006

//edit Sept 27th:

Welcome visitors from Linn's Blog
I hope you find some of this useful


During the past week I have had the chance to review more than 150 resumes from pilots. Some are great. Most are mediocre. The rest are awful.

Here are some of my opinions regarding resumes;

Feel free to tell me to eat a brick. But I have put some thought into this post.

Stick to plain fonts and black ink/lettering. I have received resumes in all the colours of the rainbow and in all fancy lettering and it only makes reading them (and printing them out when needed) more difficult.

Use a spell-checker.

"I have lived in Saudy Arabia for the past 3 1/2 years. I enjoy Soudy Arabia but would like to come back to Canada"

"I am a perfessional pilot"

"I would very much lik the chanse to meet you in to discuss my application"

"I have a great attentions to detail"

And yeah, all of those are from people who use English as a first language.

68 of the 150 resumes I have seen have some sort of spelling error. Take the time to put some polish on it. If you aren't sure how some words are spelled, ask or check online. This is your initial contact with your future employer, so take the time to do it right.

Yeah I know flying isn't a spelling bee, but when you have dozens of resumes that would potentially qualify, you start looking at ways to thin the pile. Spelling is an easy one, so don't fall victim. If I used this as an example, I would manage to thin the pile from 150 to 80 right away, and still have 80 qualified people to choose from.

Do not use a standard cover letter and send it off to all different companies in one email especially when each recipient can see all the other company names. Take the time to personalize your cover letter to each and every company individually

Take the time to research the company: Address your cover letter to the chief pilot by name and not simply "Dear Sir".

Have a table on the front page that lists your flight times. More people are doing this, but some people still bury their flight times in paragraphs of text, or halfway down the second page. Please don't use decimal places, like (Multi: 185.6) It's my pet peeve. Feel free to round up to the nearest hundred hours. Doesn't Multi: 200 sound better anyway? And by the time you get interviewed and/or hired, you'll prolly have the extra 14.4 hours. 120 if the 150 resumes had tables on the front. 3 had no mention of flight times at all on the entire resume.

Have a contact phone number that works, and that you check on a regular basis. You'd be surprised by how many people put old contact info on a resume, or don't update it when their residences change.

Please put your references on your resume. I am of the opinion that I'd prefer to check someone's references in private rather than calling them up and giving them a false sense of hope. "References on request"? What, you going to make me beg? "References on request" sounds likes it's too much trouble for you to include them. If you're not going to tell me, then don't include a "References" section on the resume. I'm going to ask around about you anyway. Oh, and if you are going to use someone as a reference, make sure they know you are using them, and make sure they like you. Again, you'd be surprised. I was.

Ask yourself, I mean seriously ask yourself, "Is it worth it to put a picture of myself on my resume". Maybe it works for some people, but I have yet to see a decent pic of anyone on a resume. It just looks lonely or desperate or something. 6 of the 150 resumes had pictures of the pilots on them. One resume actually came with 5 pics of the pilot standing in front of various aircraft.

Keep it short, and keep the non-aviation-related stuff out. You may have been a king or a street sweeper, but neither of those jobs is relevant to aviation. You might like pottery, hunting and non-dairy creamers, but unfortunately it doesn't really matter. Of course if a job requires additional skills on top of being a pilot, please include them in your resume.

If you have a commercial license do you really have to state that you have a valid cat. 1 medical.

For the most part, you do not need to mention every single engine airplane you have flown. "Various single-engine aircraft such as, C150 and C172" will suffice. If you are applying for a single engine position, then include the single that is most applicable to the job.

Don't offer to pay for training. It lowers the standard for us all. Especially don't offer in such a way as this "I will pay for my own type rating if I get a minimum 2-year contract with a minimum of 400 hours a year". Yeah, that's a quote from an actual recent resume. If we can afford the plane, we can afford to train crew. Of course if someone is already typed we take that into consideration, but there are other factors we use. I'm going to paraphrase a pal of mine now; "Hire someone 30% based on skill and 70% based on personality. You can change someone's skill set but you can't change their personality". I agree with that totally.

Keep your chin up. This is a very difficult industry and heartbreak and disappointment are par for the course. If you want it bad enough, and if you put work into it and are patient, you will get a good flying job. I was unemployed for nearly 7 months before I got my present job, and I sent out hundreds of resumes and attended 3 interviews before I got hired. On the interviews I was unsuccessful at, I took notes for myself on what I learned from it, and what not to repeat (or what to repeat for sure) on the next interview.

Suppose we had a single position to fill. That means that 149 people will be rejected through no fault of their own. That sucks, but that's life.

The hiring process is brutal, uncertain and somewhat random, so don't get down if you experience rejection again and again. Believe in yourself and that you have what it takes, and sooner or later someone else will see that too.


Aviatrix said...

I understand there is a crewhouse in Yellowknife that is wallpapered entirely in pilot resumes on blue cloud paper. People have the craziest ideas what constitutes professional presentation.

Dave Starr said...

In the US asking for pictures on an application used to be a standard procedure. It's pretty much been made illegal by many anti-discrimination laws (because if you don't think it used to be used by management to racially/sexually discriminate, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn)

When I have been on the receiving end of resumes' and received those with pictures I always wondered at the motive was.

Old man's advice? Don't even potentially contribute to discriminatory practices, leave off the pictures.

The Big Pilot said...

Great advice for job hunters in any industry. Should be mandatory reading for all U.S. MBA students.

Anonymous said...

Great, even more pressure to pull off the perfect resume for the F/O job.

Robert Bullock said...

I dunno about the references on the resume. I put flight times, couple of achievements, work history, and education on mine and that fills the single page it should be, at least here in the U.S. You Canadians, with your pot leaf on the flag and all.

:) Check my blog, eh?

Blake said...

Thanks for the tips!

First impressions are extremely important which is why I place such care in making sure that my resume is up to par.

Resumes all have their standard information but each industry has their own "requirements".

I'm nowhere near ready to start applying for an aviation related job, however, I am already preparing my self with the things I need to know in order to make the best first impression I can.

Anonymous said...

In the IT industry (where I work)references on request is an almost mandatory practice. The problem is that there are so many "headhunters" out there that will gather those names/numbers and cold call them for jobs. If you include references on job submissions the referenced people will almost always get several dozen cold calls about jobs that they don't want or are not qualified for. It's just good business not to include them. Besides, almost all job applications have a section for them anyway so if you get to the point of actually filling out the application there's your "request".

Pictures on CV's where I work are removed by an uninterested third party before I ever see the CV, it makes my job a lot safer, as someone else pointed out.

zb said...

different jobs, but similar points:

Joel seems to enjoy writing about recruiting a lot, so I think his articles are excellent. You might want to check his whole Guerrilla Guide to Hiring; links are at the bottom of the page I just quoted above.

BTW, I started to read Joel's blog when I hadn't even heard there was such a thing as a blog. Today, Blogs are part of my daily entertainment and I am glad to read all the fine stories you and aviatrix and aviation mentor and many others have to offer. Thanks for all the effort you put in your writing!!

zb said...

oh, line too long.
you have to copy and paste yourselves:

Anonymous said...

so i have a it best to have a typed rating before applying for the interview. Does having the typed rating make you more as a competitive candidate? Thanks.