Crew Lounge Home6 Ways to Improve Your Pilot Career (Most Can Be Done in 5 Minutes or Fewer!)
6 Ways to Improve Your Pilot Career (Most Can Be Done in 5 Minutes or Fewer!)

At BizJetJobs, we find that instead of thinking that a setback has happened to them, our most successful pilots imagine a setback, even one like losing a job or a global pandemic, has happened for them. Too Pollyanna for you? Yes, it's a frustrating time for many in our industry, as pilots are furloughed or uncertain about what the future holds. But here at BizJetJobs, we believe there are so many ways to be proactive about up-leveling our careers. Our most successful pilots, whether at a great job, on the hunt for a new one, or uncertain about what's next, know that they can't change the tide. But they can learn how to surf. It's good to accept the ebbs and flows, because we all have days when we feel productive, motivated, and determined. We have other days where we feel like calling a friend or relaxing. That's okay! But remember to use those productive bursts to take small steps towards your pilot job dreams. Rome wasn't built in a day, but if you take small steps and stay persistent, you'll start to see things come together.

1. Set a schedule

If you're currently at home during the work day, setting a schedule might be more important than ever. If you're working from home and able to complete tasks remotely, it’s important to over-communicate with your team. One way to do so is to set a schedule and proactively tell your manager what you’re working on, without being asked. Proactively schedule quick phone calls or video meetings with direct reports or bosses to discuss goals, make sure you’re on the same page, and to ask for feedback. It's a good idea to set these meetings at least once a quarter so you can stay on track and improve year-round instead of waiting for your annual review. If you're not flying as much as usual, you may feel frustrated, but remember: time is money. You've just gained time back, to further your goals. Take advantage by doing something for your mental and physical health that you'd normally struggle to fit into your day, like going for a run, taking a yoga class, talking to a friend or reading a book. Fitting more personal time into your day will help you approach your work or job hunt with a clear head, and better understand what it truly is that you want.

2. Have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Do you have big goals for your life or career? It helps to chunk these huge, loaded goals into smaller, achievable ones. The business parlance for this is setting "Key Performance Indicators," or KPIs. This means making goals concrete and marked by measurable accomplishments. First write down your top-level goals. Then identify a few supporting bullet points for steps you’ll take to achieve each goal. Sometimes, as you go through this process, you'll realize that your big goal (a job at XYZ company) isn't really what you want, after all. Instead of feeling like you "failed" to achieve your goal, when you break bigger goals into smaller steps, you allow yourself to pivot when the job market changes. You also give morale a boost by identifying smaller accomplishments to celebrate along the way.

3. Do your research: industry news & job posts

It's so much better to walk into a job interview well-informed of the factors driving your industry, your position, and the challenges your bosses are facing. In corporate aviation, we have to not only keep on top of the latest in aviation, but we must be be up-to-speed on the parlance and business climate related to our industry. Our most successful member pilots know how to use BizJetJobs to get the lay of the land. Many use our Job Board not only to find and apply for aviation jobs, but to see who's hiring now, who has hired historically, and in what aircraft. Job descriptions posted by our employers can serve as useful intel about the requirements and qualifications you’ll need to break into corporate flying for the first time, or to advance your career in corporate aviation. Check our job board for examples of jobs you envision for yourself and the key qualifications or experience you need for exactly that job. The information you gather will serve as a baseline for what companies are looking for, and where you currently stand. Don’t limit yourself to a particular title or company, and don't underestimate the power of putting pen to paper and writing down your goals. Think about what would make you happiest. If it’s flying a sports team, write that down. If it’s flexible hours, exotic locations or the ability to play more golf, write that. Then, do some online searching for jobs that fit those descriptions. Our searchable Flight Department Directory (AKA Aviation Employers Database) allows you to search by location and aircraft, to gain insight on flight departments in a specific geography or flying your aircraft of interest, even if they haven't posted a job in a while. Our Flight Blog, a collaborative effort between BizJetJobs and some of the top industry experts in corporate aviation, provides insight into everything from resume writing to interviewing to networking to legal matters faced by many pilots. Combined with following industry news, you can actually use this time to make yourself more valuable to everyone with whom you come into contact.

4. Networking has gone virtual

If you become known as someone who only reaches out when you need something, your relationships will begin to feel forced. If we're going to see a silver lining in the global pandemic, it's that we all now have something in common. You have an instant connection or talking point, and can reach out to practically anyone in your network to see how they are doing. You can build even better professional relationships by staying in regular touch with your most valued contacts. Right now we're feeling that the cessation of in-person networking means far more people are open to networking virtually than ever before.

5. Start a brag sheet

Who's going to sing your praises unless you do? One practice kept by the most successful people we know is regular, even daily journaling about positive accomplishments. This helps you stay positive by placing the focus on all the good you’re doing at work, and makes self-promotion more natural. If you're working, your boss likely has little idea how much you're really doing. You've got to toot your own horn, but you can't do that if you don't remember and track all the good things you've done! And don't wait for your annual performance review to share your accomplishments! Make a habit of sending a bulleted list of "this month's wins" to your boss. Come review time, you'll both be glad you did.

6. Perfect your resume

Your resume is vital to your success in finding a new job, and in today's climate, you certainly never know when that could happen. You want it to make a great first impression to help you land a job interview, so this is a great investment of time to make right now.

We love hearing from pilots who are using this time to improve their pilot career! Give us a call and tell us your pilot career success story. If you'd like customized tips on how to up-level your pilot career specifically, members can purchase an add-on to their membership called "career guidance" where they can schedule a 1:1 career guidance session.

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