The aviation industry is full of competition. Airlines compete continuously for passengers and revenue, striving to be more profitable than the others. In a similar way, we compete with other pilots for career opportunities. While “compete” may seem too harsh a word, as most pilots only want to see others succeed, your application is, by definition, competing against other applications for the same position. When applying for a pilot position, or any professional position for that matter, the goal is to submit an application that accurately and thoroughly represents your qualifications. Applications for pilot positions tend to cover many areas of one’s life, from education and professional experiences to personal accomplishments, meaning that an applicant has the ability to showcase their skill set and indicate why they are uniquely qualified for the position.
Over the next few months, I plan to dive a bit deeper into aviation application processes in hopes of providing insights into what you can do to best represent yourself as you look to secure an interview. Applications for aviation positions come in many different styles and formats, therefore I am not referring directly to any specific company, position or application format, but instead discussing the different sections that most applications include, along with the purposes behind them.
This month, I will focus on the section that encompasses past employment. An application can be thought of as a first impression and because you submitted your application into a database with potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of others, you want to take the time to ensure you are putting your best foot forward. The nice part of this first impression is that it can be edited and altered until you are positive that it is ready for submission and analysis by those in charge of hiring.
First and foremost, be sure to follow all given instructions. If you are asked to provide ten years of employment history and only provide five, that doesn’t exactly show you as a detail-oriented person. Anything that indicates that an application was rushed or not reviewed for accuracy will only hurt your chances of receiving an interview invitation. Remember of course, applications are not one-size-fits-all. If an application asks for ten years of work history and you do not have ten years of employment, you are not going to fill the entire time frame and those receiving and analyzing your application will understand why. This theme will present itself in many sections of an application, as everyone’s background is different.
While the section focusing on previous employment may seem very simple, it should be treated as much more than data entry. If the application allows you to enter details on the past position, you are given a great opportunity to highlight responsibilities held, special training received or any other aspect of the job that you feel is noteworthy. This applies to each job you have held, whether it was your first job in high school or a recent position as a commercial pilot. Ignore any thoughts like “The employer will not care about this job,” or “This position was not relevant to what I want to do.” All your previous positions are important as they have shaped the professional you have become. Take ten or fifteen minutes to really think about each role, and I bet you will remember tasks or important events that helped you grow as a leader or develop better customer-service skills. Even if the application doesn’t allow you to enter a job description or detail your responsibilities, this is still a great exercise to run through. Should an interview be offered, you can call on these details when discussing your past and your qualifications.
Another important detail to include when entering information on your past employment is any additional leadership roles or responsibilities that you were assigned, beyond those required when you were first hired. These details are crucial to convey as they show that you were specifically acknowledged by your employer and deemed responsible or skilled enough to handle additional tasks, responsibilities or given a promotion.
While this may seem like a section of an application that can be completed quickly and without much second thought, I urge all those seeking positions to focus on how much value you can add to your entries. An application is not a chore, but instead your first opportunity to show a prospective employer that you are qualified, determined, and eager to pursue the position. To those readers who may not be applying for a position in the near term, you can use this time to get ahead on this process and create an outline of your employment history along with details of your responsibilities and important experiences which you may speak to during a future interview.
While the application may be the first of numerous steps in gaining employment, it is one that offers a huge opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants.