Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

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Ash Ketchum
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Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Ash Ketchum »

As a laid off airline pilot I have spent the past 4 months trying to switch back to another industry I had worked in 5 years ago before becoming a pilot. After countless final round interviews I have had no luck. Even though I have a university degree in the field and 2 years prior work experience, most employers want recent experience and in todays job market that's not hard to find.

It seems that no one appreciates my flying experience and HR in non aviation industries cant see how the leadership, critical thinking, customer service and teamwork skills we develop as pilots translate.

I am at the point where I have given up my job search and am planning to go back to school or start a business unless my airline recalls me in the next few months (doubt it but who knows)...

Anyone else struggling to find employment outside of aviation?
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Panama Jack »

Part of the problem, Ash, is that employers probably getting more relavently qualified people who do have that recent experience, and then some. Or they can't relate to how flying an airplane fits to their specific line. It isn't just airline pilots out of work. I know, it's depressing. But I am old enough to remember aviation in the 80's and 90's where I saw an ad for a Twin Otter Captain where they asked for a minimum of 10,000 hours TT. Another recruiter didn't want to hire a pilot who had been out of the game for about 15 years. It's the joys of life in the free economy.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by fsantana »

What kind of business do you have in mind?
Maybe we can come up with something...

I’m on the same train, same wagon...
PM me and let’s figure something out together
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by 200Above »

It's extremely frustrating. I'm working for $16.80 an hr in a casual position while I search for something long(er) term. Looking at various jobs/industries.

I've found you need formal training AND experience to make anything over ~$24/hr. This means schooling and experience which, even best case, could take 2 years, minimum. Right when recalls may happen. Does a guys spend the money to start schooling? Do you get a Class 1/3, (10K and 3K price tag respectively) Do you suck up a 19-20$ an hr salary until recall? Do you go on EI?

I've been applying to reputable companies that offer labour positions.... crickets. I suspect because they see I haven't done manual labour in years, and, they see I'm laid off and will go back to flying the moment I can. So I understand the hesitation. It's just unfortunate.

I lived on reserves. I flew in the Arctic. I chucked bags. I fueled and moved airplanes. I did rotations. I slept in a room with other people.

None of that matters now. I should have diversified the resume earlier. That's a mistake that I want to correct moving forward even when recall happens.

8000 hrs and I'm working for 16.80. :lol:
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by flying4dollars »

I feel you Ash. Many of us likely have been in the same boat. I have applied to many jobs from between entry and mid-level, to more technical jobs. Not a single call back. I was wondering the same thing as you, why nobody wanted to snap up someone who's been in charge of a multimillion dollar, mid sized jet with the lives of just under 200 on board. If that doesn't scream responsibility, I don't know what does. Unfortunately, most non-aviation employers don't think about these things and think we are a niche career (which is not wrong).

I started to leave out 'pilot' from my resume and instead wrote down my employer and under job title I put down 'operations'. I wrote that I was responsible for executing the operational side of the business and liaise with different departments etc etc. I started to get calls for interviews, and it was then I was able to tell them honestly that I was a pilot. On one occasion I had a manager ask why I left that part out of my resume and watered down my job description. I told him that I felt most people wouldn't see the responsibilities we sometimes have and the critical thinking involved in our jobs. He was quite taken back and admitted he wouldn't have called had I put that down. He then told me I'd be better suited for another position they had within the company and it paid quite a bit better. As fate would have it, by the end of day, I got my recall notice and spoke with the manager to inform him of that and asked him if possible, not to turn down a pilot out of work. He said he can't promise anything of course but he's glad he interviewed me to learn this.

Maybe that could be a lesson to other pilots out of work. Try getting creative on the resume. Afterall, what I wrote wasn't a lie. Good luck out there!!
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Arnie Pye »

It's not just non-aviation employers.

In a kick in the nuts by karma, I've recently found out that Morning* won't even look at me because I'm "extremely overqualified" to fly their planes. I think I nailed my fedex truck driver interview though.

The interviewer told me I was the smartest guy he has seen interview for the $16.50/hour position. In my head I was trying to come up with a non-condescending way of telling him that if I was so smart, I wouldn't be interviewing for a part time position that paid less than my CERB payment.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by GoHomeLeg »

Great article regarding this topic.


https://medium.com/@arjan.verhoeven/why ... 49e894dbf6
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by trey kule »

That article mentions the concern of recall. I think that concern was marginalized by the author.

Read Flying for Dollars post. His interest in working for that employer ended instantly when he got the recall.

What if it had been a few weeks later after the employer had given him a job, and he had started work for them.
Let us know F4$. Would it have been sorry dude, but I gotta go? Sorry that you went through all the trouble of hiring me, and now have to do it all over?

It is a tough sell, and being creative on a resume may come back to bite you more often than getting ahead. If f4$ had been a bit less creative he would not have wasted a potential employer’s time.

Having been on both sides of the table in my career, my advice is be straight up and honest. In the long term it will serve you better.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Ash Ketchum »

Thanks for the reply's everyone! Glad I'm not the only one struggling. In regard to my resume, I actually left out pilot on my resume to get all the interviews. Before I did that I got 0 interview invites. Instead I wrote I spent the last 5 years as an independent IT consultant which is kind of true because I did a few freelance jobs while I flew.

What I found was that company's want to hire someone who recently worked for an established company in the same role as they are hiring for so that they don't have to spend time/money on training someone new. Maybe in a better job market they wouldn't find that person but today with so many unemployed its an employers market. I got feedback on some of my interviews and most companies told me that I was a very personable and knowledgeable candidate however my previous work experience always hindered my ability to get an offer.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by flying4dollars »

trey kule wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 4:48 pm That article mentions the concern of recall. I think that concern was marginalized by the author.

Read Flying for Dollars post. His interest in working for that employer ended instantly when he got the recall.

What if it had been a few weeks later after the employer had given him a job, and he had started work for them.
Let us know F4$. Would it have been sorry dude, but I gotta go? Sorry that you went through all the trouble of hiring me, and now have to do it all over?

It is a tough sell, and being creative on a resume may come back to bite you more often than getting ahead. If f4$ had been a bit less creative he would not have wasted a potential employer’s time.

Having been on both sides of the table in my career, my advice is be straight up and honest. In the long term it will serve you better.
Sure trey kule I see your point, but when I'm looking at paying my bills and mortgage, I'm going to find a job that pays me enough money to do it, whether it's flying or not. If it's between burning through my savings and collecting EI, or this, I will choose the latter every time. I was never dishonest. You may have missed the point. On paper, few will likely want to hire a pilot. When I was brought in for the interview, it was explained. HE then proceeded to offer a better job position based on my qualification knowing I may go back to my career. That was the risk he was willing to take, clearly. So no, I most certainly did not waste his time. He mentioned after telling me that had I not explained some of the skills that come with the job, he wouldn't have called me for an interview if he saw I was a pilot.

It was fortuitous that I was recalled the day I interviewed. But that recall could have taken weeks, months or never. Don't forget that. I wasn't about to sit around and wait to find out what the case will be while I could have been earning money to maintain my livelihood, all because I don't want to potentially waste an employers time. That is the risk the employer can choose to take. I'm positive there are employers who figure we'll just go back to flying should a recall happen, which could very well be the reason we have a hard time getting callbacks. But I think speaking to the employer in person goes a long way. Hence the creativeness on paper to get the interview in the first place.

Point is I think until it's explained, employers don't always understand how our skills can translate to work outside our field.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by photofly »

flying4dollars wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:26 pm Point is I think until it's explained, employers don't always understand how our skills can translate to work outside our field.
Until it's explained, employers might also not realize how your skills will vanish out of the door the day the airlines call again. I'm fairly sure that the no.1 skill most employers really want is loyalty. They probably don't realize that when interviewing a pilot they need explicitly to ask for it though.

This is not to disparage pilots; the fact remains that most intelligent and skilled people looking for a generalist well paying job do not have in mind to leave it, before they have even interviewed; most people who are looking for a job are pleased to find one and want, absent unforeseen circumstances, to keep it, permanently. This would not be the case for a pilot with thousands of hours of time, waiting to go back to fly.


The more abstract the skills, and the better paying the job, the longer it takes an employee to get their feet under the desk, and the longer it takes for an employer's investment in an employee to show a return. There are only so many skilled and well-paying jobs with essentially no long term commitments (curiously, flying an airliner is one of them.)


Going back to the original poster:
As a laid off airline pilot I have spent the past 4 months trying to switch back to another industry I had worked in 5 years ago before becoming a pilot.
You've already demonstrated your lack of commitment to that other industry, by leaving it to become a pilot. Without knowing what that other industry is, it's hard to say, but do you think that fact might be weighing on the mind of your prospective employers, when they choose between you and another qualified candidate?
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by McKinley »

This is a great post...

It’s pretty demoralizing to go from flying a 705 airliner, to competing and vying for non-aviation Basic entry level jobs. It’s a niche industry.. However, it’s also true that we have transferable skills and life experience that not a lot of people have.

Historically, I just put myself back on the ramp etc in aviation. Employers on the ramp were more than happy to hire me and it usually led to another flying position either directly or indirectly in short order. However, For the first time in my life ( since I was 16) this gameplan isn’t an option.. which I’m finding was a MAJOR shock to the system.

I’ve found that my non- aviation employer expected that I’ll be able to do anything without training.( Aren’t you a pilot?? How come you don’t know how my inventory/ POS system works on day 1??) I also echo the sentiments from others to leave “ Pilot” off the resume/ CV.

I’m going to invest in some career coaching...

I’ve used these guys ( JL Careers) and they have great interview tips/ resume tips.

I’m also going to see a psychologist / Career coach. What I’m finding is that the unskilled labor jobs are hard to come by... I plan to go back to school and find a new career all together and fund it though EI/ Savings or whatever I can scrounge up.

Air Cadets or CASARA might be an option .. to fly and keep the skills sharp while having someone pay for the plane.

Other options: fire, police, EMS,

As a pilot .. I’m great at selling myself short..I believe we have lots to offer and shouldn’t settle in the long term. In the short term.. we need to do what we need to do to survive..

I don’t know how much an of an industry will be left once the dust settles. Canada has the strictest COVID-19 restrictions and I think ( dont quote me) is the only g20 country to not bailout its aviation sector.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by fixnfly »

Yea I've been in Aviation for just over 10 years. Recently was going to upgrade at a regional but now find myself laid off. Instructed, flew to the reserves and did maintenance for a while. I've been applying to other non skilled labour jobs for months but have heard nothing. I think I've had enough of this industry as this is my 3rd time being laid off. My best friend studied software engineering for a year and after working in his industry for 1.5 years makes $90k, home every night with weekends off and flex days every month. Multiple head hunters offering him jobs each month. I'm going back to school to study computer science in september; wish I had chosen a different career path after highschool.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Ash Ketchum »

fixnfly wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:40 pm Yea I've been in Aviation for just over 10 years. Recently was going to upgrade at a regional but now find myself laid off. Instructed, flew to the reserves and did maintenance for a while. I've been applying to other non skilled labour jobs for months but have heard nothing. I think I've had enough of this industry as this is my 3rd time being laid off. My best friend studied software engineering for a year and after working in his industry for 1.5 years makes $90k, home every night with weekends off and flex days every month. Multiple head hunters offering him jobs each month. I'm going back to school to study computer science in september; wish I had chosen a different career path after highschool.
I feel your pain. I am an ex-software engineer who was trying to get back into tech after 5 years of commercial flying experience. My only advice is that software development becomes very tedious as a career if you only do it for the money as I did. There is constant change and learning and requires a level of passion to succeed in. Best of luck with school!
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by co-joe »

McKinley wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:10 pm ...
I’ve found that my non- aviation employer expected that I’ll be able to do anything without training.( Aren’t you a pilot?? How come you don’t know how my inventory/ POS system works on day 1??) I also echo the sentiments from others to leave “ Pilot” off the resume/ CV.

...
This is so true.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by digits_ »

flying4dollars wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:26 pm

It was fortuitous that I was recalled the day I interviewed. But that recall could have taken weeks, months or never. Don't forget that. I wasn't about to sit around and wait to find out what the case will be while I could have been earning money to maintain my livelihood, all because I don't want to potentially waste an employers time. That is the risk the employer can choose to take. I'm positive there are employers who figure we'll just go back to flying should a recall happen, which could very well be the reason we have a hard time getting callbacks. But I think speaking to the employer in person goes a long way. Hence the creativeness on paper to get the interview in the first place.

Point is I think until it's explained, employers don't always understand how our skills can translate to work outside our field.
You wrote that the manager didn't know what the specific responsibilities were of a pilot job, yet you claim that he would be aware of the risk that you would leave for the same flying job that laid you off?

Pretty sure if you honestly told him that during the interview, he would choose not to take such a risk. Especially in the current economy.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by AirFrame »

Ash Ketchum wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:34 am As a laid off airline pilot I have spent the past 4 months trying to switch back to another industry I had worked in 5 years ago before becoming a pilot. After countless final round interviews I have had no luck. Even though I have a university degree in the field and 2 years prior work experience, most employers want recent experience and in todays job market that's not hard to find.

It seems that no one appreciates my flying experience and HR in non aviation industries cant see how the leadership, critical thinking, customer service and teamwork skills we develop as pilots translate.
Are you applying for a role where the skills you develop as a pilot would be directly relevant? Or are you applying for a role where your 5 year old experience is more relevant?
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by trey kule »

F4$. And others,

I sympathize with your personal situations. I have been there, a couple of times. It seems to be part of an aviation career, though I dont suppose the flight colleges ever mention it.

My point was that employers are generally a bit skittish about hiring someone who will walk out as soon as they get the call. It is a fair concern. And trying to get tothe interview with creative resume writing seems to confirm the impression that “it is all about you”

I have not read one post where a furloughed Pilot applied at a 7-11 or a Macdonalds. Or one of the many other businesses that do not require a great deal of expense and normal business is high turnover. (. Maybe the Fedex).
Furloughed pilot. Entitled pilot. I got bumped so its only fair I bump someone off their career ladder as an (insert IT, engineer, skilled employee, low time 7o3hopeful) until I get the call. Then they can have their job and continue on their career. What ...they are current, and have more experience in their field...so what...I am a pilot and bring all those skills that come with the awesome responsibilities from Sitting in the right seat.
If that means not mentioning being a pilot until I can charm them in the interview, so be it. It is all about me.

I do wish all you that are going through this the best. It will end. At least for most. And then lessons can be learned so the future is not so uncertain.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by flying4dollars »

digits_ wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:01 am

You wrote that the manager didn't know what the specific responsibilities were of a pilot job, yet you claim that he would be aware of the risk that you would leave for the same flying job that laid you off?

Pretty sure if you honestly told him that during the interview, he would choose not to take such a risk. Especially in the current economy.

You'd think that, I would have guessed it too that it would have been a no go. He asked me when I expected a recall, and I said I wish I knew. I told him that things change weekly and it could be fall, or it could be end of the year, next year or never, which is pretty true. None of us have crystal balls, even though many think they do.

He didn't specifically say it but I got the impression he was not having any luck with other candidates. Hence why he decided to give me a shot anyways. I used to hire employees way back in the day for a different job, and I can totally get that aspect. Listen, this wasn't some exec position. It was a step above the job I had applied for, so I can see why he was ok taking the chance. Nothing wrong with that.
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Re: Non Aviation Employers Don't Respect Pilot Experience

Post by Ash Ketchum »

AirFrame wrote: Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:06 am
Ash Ketchum wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:34 am As a laid off airline pilot I have spent the past 4 months trying to switch back to another industry I had worked in 5 years ago before becoming a pilot. After countless final round interviews I have had no luck. Even though I have a university degree in the field and 2 years prior work experience, most employers want recent experience and in todays job market that's not hard to find.

It seems that no one appreciates my flying experience and HR in non aviation industries cant see how the leadership, critical thinking, customer service and teamwork skills we develop as pilots translate.
Are you applying for a role where the skills you develop as a pilot would be directly relevant? Or are you applying for a role where your 5 year old experience is more relevant?
Kind of a mix. I am applying to technical project management and business analyst roles and a few others such as sales - all in the IT industry. I believe this combines my technical skills from the past in software engineering as well as my communication, management and leadership skills I have obtained more recently as a 705 captain.
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