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Right now the short-term outlook looks quite different from Boeing’s widely distributed employment forecast: With air transportation demand down during the coronavirus pandemic and industry layoffs looming this fall when some government aid to airlines ends, how does a pilot who is preparing to enter the job market compete—possibly against more experienced applicants—for jobs that are, temporarily at least, scarce?
One answer is that landing a flying job remains the same game it has always been. Smart job seekers should adjust their strategy, and perhaps the timeline, to current conditions, but as with flying itself, the fundamentals shouldn’t be sacrificed or compromised.
It’s still important to network and attend job fairs and aviation events (online) where major employers have a presence. Polish your interviewing skills. Stay informed about what recruiters are looking for in applicants. And despite all the hubbub about demand outpacing the supply of hirable pilots years into the future, you may also need to remind yourself of the virtues of patience while conditions sort themselves out.
That doesn’t mean changing your career aspirations, but you may find that you arrive at your ultimate job-market destination by a different route than the one you planned.
That’s not too different from flying, is it?
Not too long ago it seemed like a matter-of-fact proposition that someone with your tickets, flight time, and multiengine or turbine time would get hired at an airline or by a corporate flight department without too much delay. You tidied up your résumé and accumulated some nice recommendation letters from associates with impressive credentials. Next you may have worked on your interviewing skills, rehearsing your explanation of how your inherent strengths and your aviation education make up for your relative lack of experience—a question you were told would be raised by a senior pilot or the human resources representative conducting your interview.
Keep that strategy for an airline interview in mind, but that may not be where you are headed next, said Art Jacob, an airline transport pilot with numerous Boeing, Airbus, and Cessna Citation type ratings and active flight instructor who also holds advanced degrees in economics and has owned several flight training operations.
“Aspiring pilots need several alternatives, as the career path has no longer become a straight line,” he said in a phone interview.
His advice partly answers a question that must have come into the minds of many would-be aviation career
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