We've all had a crazy childhood dream and mine was becoming an airline pilot. Many young people who aspire a flying career are unaware of the content of flight training and the preparations which are needed. On November 23rd, 2015 I started my ATPL(A) training. Time to realize my childhood dream. I'd like to take you along on an adventure and I'll happily answer all your questions on the way. Let's do this!
We are all well aware that finding a job as a pilot is not an easy task. It's also one of the main reasons why people doubt whether they should start flight training or not. Because of that reason I want to take you on my personal road to the right seat and tell you all about my personal experiences. May the job hunt begin!
The next chapter of my blog has finally arrived! When I graduated on June 9th, 2017 my search for a job as a pilot began. In this first post, I will tell you all about the paperwork which had to be dealt with after graduation and I will also cover the beginning of my personal job hunt!
New adventure, new blog
For those who haven't read the previous 33 posts yet, it might be nice to shortly introduce myself again. My name is Bob Geuens, I'm 20 years old and last summer I graduated from the CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, Brussels. In the past two years, I've written all about my flight training and the progress I made. Feel free to scroll back through the previous posts to read all about it!
After I graduated there was a whole new adventure waiting for me... Let's go back in time so I can show you how to find a job as a pilot and if the pilot shortage is a fact or fiction!
The first step after graduating was getting a lot of paperwork in order. Requesting the license, the school diploma, creating a CV, writing cover letters... at the time the list seemed endless. There was also no time for any holidays since I planned on studying the ATPL theory again for the third time.
It was during this time that I realized how important it is to choose the right flight school when it comes to finding a job. Many schools don't offer any help after you graduate and that's a bit of a shame to be honest. We'll never have any job security which makes it even more important to graduate from a flight school which is supportive. Not only during the training but also afterward!
Airline Selection Preparation Program (ASPP)
During a two-day course, my classmates and I learned all about job interviews. The great aftercare program which CAE has in place was also one of the reasons I chose to do my training at their school. Not only did they help us out a lot with all the paperwork, but we also had personal and professional coaching for the interviews. It definitely adds great value to the training!
The course was given by a pilot who has participated in many interviews himself. It gave us the chance to learn from his experiences, failures and success. He told us all about his personal experiences and gave us many tips, tricks and do's and dont's for the upcoming interviews.
We learned all about making CV's, writing cover letters, the important ATPL theory topics... No subject was left behind during the ASPP! It was a short, but eye-opening course in which we received some of the most essential tips to help us pass an airline interview. Now it was time for us to prove ourselves!
The first, and actually most important step, is requesting your license at the authorities. In Belgium, this is done at the BCAA (Belgian Civil Aviation Authority) in Brussels. I was lucky and only had to wait one week before I could pick up my license. Now I could officially call myself an Instrument Rated Commercial Pilot. Hooray!
After we graduated we also received the so-called 'Candidate FO File' and 'Final Report'. In these documents, you can find all your test results, progress throughout the training and comments written by the instructors. Some flight schools don't offer these two documents while they are actually quite important. For example, you are obliged to have them if you want to apply at Ryanair.
When you want to apply to an airline you need a good CV and a cover letter. I already wrote mine during the training, but after the ASPP I did make a few changes. Your CV is the first impression you will give to your (hopefully) future employer and therefore it is essential to spend some time on it. Professional, clear-cut and personal. That's what I was aiming for.
The cover letter is also a great opportunity for you to put yourself in the spotlight. Who are you, what is your background, why do you want to work for this airline and why should they hire you? These are the questions you should answer in your letter. It's a question of self-knowledge and knowing your qualities and shortcomings.
Once you have all these documents it is time to finally start job hunting!
People tend to say that as a young pilot you should accept the first job offer you receive. However, I do not fully support this saying as it is important to remember that your job will define the way you live. If you ask me, it is crucial that you do enough research about the company before applying.
Do I have to move to another country? Is the salary sufficient? Do I have to finance the Type Rating myself? What kind of contract does the company offer? Is it day- or night flying? These are just a few examples to get you started! Don't leave them unanswered.
Before sending out my documents I always did some research. Once I had enough information about the airline and thought I could fit in, I sent my very first application letter...
Thank you for reading the new blog! If you have any questions about the life of a jobhunting pilot feel free to leave a comment below. See you next week!
Story series: Road to the Right Seat
Follow student pilot Bob's journey to the right seat of an airliner!