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Get Past the Computers: Create a Pilot Resume that Makes the Cut

These days, many corporate flight departments are short-staffed, and yet some pilots still can’t seem to find pilot jobs. One culprit? The very software that sorts through pilot resumes can delete quality pilots from ever being considered. What is it? Applicant Tracking Software (ATS)! You'll recognize you might be about to use ATS when the "apply now" box in the upper right corner of a BizJetJobs pilot job posting contains an arrow, like this:

The arrow indicates that you're leaving the BizJetJobs website and will be redirected to the company's website. (When the box does not include an arrow, the company has opted to use the BizJetJobs site to manage applicants, which according to our Members, can be a far simpler and more personal experience.) ATS can do everything from sourcing candidates and managing the application process to scheduling interviews and performing background checks. Watch out: once you're in the system, HR is typically not even involved in the resume sorting process! A human being might never even see your resume until or unless your resume gets past this automated review.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this type of software excludes more than 10 million workers from ever receiving a call about a job opening. One of the biggest reasons is the way job descriptions are written, and how ruthlessly an ATS can weed pilots out based on those requirements. In a survey by Harvard of the entire job market, 90% of employers believed high-skilled prospects were being weeded out because they didn’t meet all of the criteria listed in the job description. Why do they use it, then? The advent of the online application process means it's easier to apply for a job. So, HR is more likely to receive resumes from less-than-ideal candidates. This makes it more likely for them to make hiring mistakes, which can also get them into trouble. This creates an opportunity for pilots. The software is simply comparing the job description with your resume. If you've been searching BizJetJobs corporate pilot job postings, you're familiar with how HR describes their pilot jobs - so you're already halfway there. Job descriptions themselves become the most valuable guidance on which resume words to use to best position yourself as a competitive candidate.

How to Write a Resume That Gets Past ATS

Even if you're searching for one particular job title, descriptions and requirements can vary. Task number 1 is to note the keywords used and be sure to use the same words on your resume, in your cover letter, and on any other application materials you submit. If the job post lists "Gulfstream 550," make sure your resume doesn't list G550 but instead "Gulfstream 550." If the position is out of New York, you'll want to list that as well. Repeating back the words you see prominently displayed in a job description might feel strange, rote, or redundant at first. But you're increasing the odds that you'll make it past the ATS and to actual human review. It's not cheating or gaming the system to specifically spell out exactly how you're qualified. An ATS can't read between the lines! As we've been saying for years at BizJetJobs, you need to customize your resume for each position you plan on applying to. Got one golden resume you use for each job application? You'll need to change that. Since there is no standardization across corporate flight departments, this is especially true in corporate aviation. Each company is looking for something different. So, the keywords they use to describe their position will differ. The way you describe yourself should, too. Pay special attention to these parts of the job description that are most likely to contain the best words to use on your resume:

1. Company Overview

It might seem like a boring preamble to the real "meat" of the job posting, but the way each company, charter outfit or flight department describes itself is a big tip-off to corporate culture. Companies may describe themselves based on mission, products, customers, and/or team values. All those things come from their years of experience, and what they are certain convinces their customer that they're a good company to do business with. For example, check out this company's mission statement: "A global sports and entertainment company that connects nearly 100 million busy young professionals in meaningful ways through the experiences we create, and the good that we do." This company likely sees itself as having a finger on the pulse of a global, yet close-knit community. It creates excitement, connection, and is likely involved in philanthropy. If that matches your personality, then flying for them might be a great fit for you. Describe yourself, your past experiences, and your goals similarly in your cover letter. On your resume, you could incorporate the words "sports," "entertainment," and/or your past work with "busy young professionals" under your job descriptions, additional details or volunteer work sections to establish that alignment. Once you get the interview, investigate the financial health of the sports and entertainment industry. Research competitors. In general, it's smart to have a general idea about:

  • the industry
  • the position
  • who you will report to
  • the company's customer base
  • challenges
  • interests
  • goals
  • if the company is public, recent earnings reports

This research will help you understand the business better, and in corporate aviation, you're expected to understand the business.

2. The First Few Bullet Points

The job descriptions written by employers on BizJetJobs usually begin with the most crucial responsibilities of the pilot job. Make sure you understand this prioritization, and draft a resume that elaborates on your skills that fall within the top bullet points. For example, if a job description's top bullet requires "the ability to maintain an atmosphere of friendly, enthusiastic customer service," that exact phrase should appear in either your career summary or work history.

3. Requirements

Again, the most valuable skills and experiences will be at the top of the list or description of job requirements. Your resume and cover letter should do this as well. For each position you've held, make sure your text highlights a major accomplishment and bullet points that describe:

  • the challenge presented to you
  • the actions you took, and
  • the results of your strategic efforts. Include quantitative data (numbers!) whenever possible.

For example, if the job description says you need "extensive experience in staffing," use that exact phrase and detail your "extensive experience in staffing." You get the idea.

Find Jobs Tailored to You

Finding a new job is all about finding the right fit, for both you and an employer. While a job description shows how you can tailor your resume for the company by using targeted resume words, you also want to find the ideal job tailored to your skills and experience. Need some help discovering them? Step one is creating your pilot profile on BizJetJobs. We'll send you the best-fit job alerts. Here are some of the resources and advice BizJetJobs has put together, including resume writing guides and templates to help you get past what can be a major hurdle to getting an interview.

Looking for pilot resume templates, sample pilot resumes, resume examples, or formatting advice? Want to know if your current resume is up to snuff? Contact us at from 8-7 CST M-F for advice. We’re here to help.

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