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Getting your first airline job

Getting your first airline job

Getting your first airline job
Posted Wednesday 26 Mar 2014 by henry

Getting your first airline job

So you have just finished your professional flight training and you now have a shiny new CPL IR or Frozen ATPL. Now what? Go and get a job flying as a First Officer for one of the many different airlines in the world. Sadly this is easier said than done! The steps below are taken from my experiences and opinions. They are not strict rules they are purely guidelines.

Step one
Prepare yourself.

You are most likely not going to find your first job sitting at home watching Eastenders! Write you CV and write it well. I’m not going into aviation CVs but it should be clear and ideally on one page. There are many articles on the web talking about aviation CVs. You could also visit one of the companies who help write your CV. Make use of the Internet. There are many resources to help you get noticed. I have recently started using LinkedIn its great for getting your name out there, again make sure your page is up to scratch and reflects your CV. Blogging, well I have just discovered blogging and I quite like it. In fact this is my first blog. I have been reading some blogs online and it seems a great way to get your name out there. I was reading a blog on Get into Flying’s website about this guy doing his ATPL ground school at Oxford it’s interesting! I’ve also noticed his name on social networking sites, I’m sure he will have no problem finding a job when the time comes.

Step two
Get Noticed.

Now you have a bit of context behind your name with your new online social and business networks, your clear and concise CV and your blog its time to get out there! When I was looking for work I made every effort to immerse myself in the flying community. Get you hands dirty. Find a job at your local airfield, whatever it takes. I ended up washing light aircraft at one point where coincidentally I met my business partner for Ferry Flight International Ltd. Take anything you get offered and do the job well. I eventually moved up the ladder at my local airfield from washing the aircraft to being an instructor in them.

Step three
Work experience.

Work experience is great. Not only do you get to put it on your CV you get to meet new people in the aviation industry and build all important contacts. I should mention contacts in the aviation world are vital, I can’t stress that enough. Finding contacts can be challenging it’s the balance of not being too pushy and not being pushy enough. Try and make friends rather than finding a person and asking them to help you. Why not start going to the pub where pilots from your local airfield visit. Just get to know people. I have met dozens of aviation contacts at my local! (Not saying pilots are always in the pub) Once you have made your contacts keep them, without harassing them that is.

Step Four
Start Applying.

Right you now have your license, your CV, you have started getting noticed online, you have a flying related job, you have work experience and you have an ever growing list of valuable contacts. What next? Start applying for jobs! How? Well I started by making a list of every airline, Charter Company and air taxi company. There are plenty of websites to help you try PPJN. I then wrote a cover letter for each company, attached my CV and sent the company an email and a letter in the post. It seems every other pilot in the world had the same idea so this tactic didn’t work out. However, it needs to be done, its all part of getting noticed. If whoever is in charge of recruitment sees your name enough they may just give you a chance!

Step Five
Step it up!

Give it a week or two to let the companies you have applied to open your email and your letter. The may even read it if your lucky. Now go and see some of the companies in person. Visit the company’s office; ask if you can have a chat with someone. Maybe see if you can talk to the head of training or head of recruitment. This will allow them to put a face to a name. After your chat hand them your CV in person.

Step Six
Don’t be fussy!

This is the stage I got my break. I was chatting to Tony Davis one of the MCC instructors at European Aviation Air Charter EAAC. He asked me if I wanted a job being a general dogs body around the airline offices. Of course I said yes. I ended up with a 9am to 5pm job running around the offices photocopying pieces of paper and typing never ending letters on a prehistoric computer. Thankfully this only lasted 10 days! Tony asked me if I would be interested in flying the general public on flight simulator experiences using the airlines full motion Boeing 747 and 737 simulators. I said yes! This experience allowed me to start my own company called Jet Simulation Ltd. We offer flight simulator experiences to the general public. Four months later I was told the airline European Aviation Air Charter EAAC were looking for two First Officers on the Boeing 737-200 based at Bournemouth Airport (30 minutes from my house). I applied for the job but was told they were interviewing more experienced pilots. That put a spanner in the works! A couple of weeks later, the day the more experienced pilots were interviewed I was sitting eating my lunch when the Head of Training popped his head around the door and quite simply said “do you want a job on the Boeing 737” I said YES please! A month later I started the type rating. Ryanair had also offered me a job flying the Boeing 737NG. However, I decided to turn it down due to the cost of the self funded type rating. (around 28,000 Euros at the time) I got the job flying the Boeing 737 based at Bournemouth. We were flying passengers all over Europe and North Africa.

Step Seven

When you get invited for an interview and flight simulator assessment be prepared, really prepared. There is no point putting all this hard work in and failing at the last hurdle! When I was preparing for my Ryanair simulator assessment and interview I spent hours on the Internet researching past interview questions, profiles and what to expect during the simulator assessment. I invested in a flight simulator assessment preparation course so I knew what to expect in the simulator. This involved flying the Boeing 737 simulator with an instructor taking you through every step of the assessment followed by a lengthy debriefing.

To Summarise
This is simple.

Make contacts. Be willing. Take what you’re offered. Don’t be fussy. Be prepared. Remain positive.

The After Story

I have always kept the opinion take what your offered and don’t be fussy. Sadly European Aviation Air Charter went belly up during the recession. By this time I had started Jet Simulation Ltd offering flight simulator experiences and flight simulator training and was working for Ferry Flight International so I was able to get by. I was however approached by one of the recruitment companies Sigma aviation asking if I wanted a job flying the Boeing 737 based in Baghdad Iraq. I ended up flying very old past their best Boeing 737’s around Iraq. We spent most of our day avoiding small arms fire and mortars whilst eating the most disgusting airline food I have ever tasted. Despite that the flying was amazing fun. After a year in Iraq I got a Job flying a Boeing 737-200 Business Jet (BBJ-200) based in the UK and Saudi Arabia. I’m now a Captain on the BBJ. I’m currently sat in my hotel room in Japan writing this blog.

Everything works out in the end.

We all make mistakes. I did anyway. I was offered a job with Ryanair at the same time as my job with EAAC. I turned Ryanair down. Then EAAC went under a year later.

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