During every pilot's search for that ideal flying job, we inevitably find ourselves at one pilot convention or another. These conventions present great opportunities. It is a chance to gain more knowledge about potential employers, to introduce yourself to the airline recruiters and to offer airlines the chance to learn about you. At my first convention, I was lucky to hear a presentation given by Capt Eric Hendricks of AirTran on what he termed “Exhibit Hall CRM.” Exhibit Hall CRM basically addresses some of the bonehead things recruiters see frequently at conventions. I thought what Capt Hendricks said that day was so fundamental and important that I want to share it with you. For those headed to their first convention, this should be required reading.
Lesson #1 – When you attend an airline convention, act and look like you are there for an interview. Spend the money on a decent interview suit, be properly groomed and don’t neglect the shoes. Any major retailer such as Men’s Wearhouse can offer advice on what to and what not to wear to an interview. The flying community is relatively small, so you are bound to run into old friends, but remember, that isn’t why you are there. The convention isn’t the time to start getting loud and reliving old memories. You never know who is paying attention to you.
Lesson #2 – Recruiters are people too. They need to eat and sleep like the rest of us. When you see a recruiter outside the convention, such as checking in at the hotel or eating in a restaurant, 99% of the time that isn’t a good time to introduce yourself or give the recruiter your resume. Along those same lines, don’t be a pest by doing such things as visiting the same recruiter over and over and over and…
Lesson #3 – Let your resume do the talking for you. A recruiter goes through a lot of resumes during the course of a day. They can scan a resume and pick out the information they need in less than 15 seconds. Once they have done that, they will ask you for any additional information they may need. If you do ask questions, ask questions that indicate you've already done your homework. Questions such as “What type of equipment do you fly?” are things that you should know before you ever talk to a recruiter. Do your research beforehand and engage on the positive as opposed to the negative. Bottom line is smile and do not talk yourself out of a job.
Lesson #4 – Know who you are talking to. As an example, AirTran Airways is not ATA. If you take the time to make airline specific resumes, then make sure you hand the correct resume to the intended airline. ‘Nough said?
In summary, airlines are looking for qualified people who they don’t mind spending hour after hour with in the relatively small space of the cockpit. If you are handing an airline a resume, then you are likely qualified. Don’t put yourself out of the running due to likability issues because you only get one chance at a first impression.