Up until now, there are a lot of unemployed pilots that are looking for an airline job. I have been there myself and I can tell you that the first airline job is quite hard to find. Airlines hire a relatively low amount of ‘new’ pilots compared to how many pilots enter the market. As you can imagine, the competition is therefore high and together with all the expenses, (Read article The Real Deal here) being unemployed and looking for your first airline job is not easy. In this article I will tell you about those 2 years of unemployment and what my life looked like.
Demand & Supply
In a time of low demand and high supply, obviously, airlines take the best qualified people they can get their hands on. These are the people with the highest amount of flight hours (experience) or people who had the best grades during their training. An average of 95% without any retakes is therefore sometimes not even good enough. I graduated at the end of 2013. The market was not good but at least things were moving. While you are trying to get a job at an airline you need another job to cover all the expenses. Unfortunately it is very common for ab initio’s to have a job that doesn’t involve flying a commercial aircraft for the first couple of years since the chance of obtaining an airline job immediately after graduating is very small. This brings me to the next item.
Work, Work, Work
So what kind of job could you do which is so flexible that you can cancel any day and leave whenever you want? Because this is what you are looking for, right?! For an interview, airlines contact you at the very last minute so it is necessary to work for a flexible company. I started working for a lawyers office and the people at this compa
ny were incredibly nice. I had the best time but in the meantime I realized that staying at this office would not improve my chances of finding an airline job. To be attractive for airlines you need to be able to show them that you have maintained your aviation related skills and knowledge.. By doing so, you show the company that you are highly motivated and that you do whatever it takes to achieve your goals.
Stay in aviation!
Besides the lawyers office I started working as an ‘instructor’ for a simulator company. The airplane: B737-800. This was voluntary work but in turn I could fly in their simulator whenever I wanted. This was the ultimate combination since I could keep up my skills and in the meantime earn money at the lawyers office. This is also what I would advise anyone who is looking for an airline job. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something related to flying it’s good. This job helped me a lot with my instrument scan and to maintain my flying skills. Because I flew in that simulator daily, I knew exactly how to manually fly the B737-800. As you might understand, this was a big advantage during the assessment.
Will I ever get a job?
During these 2 years of unemployment I lived at home with my parents. The money I earned at the lawyers office went straight to the bank to cover the monthly interest. Any salary that was left I spent on things to keep my licence current (medical, insurance, multi-engine instrument rating etc). Almost every month another huge expense without seeing good developments concerning airline jobs. In the meantime I tried to keep up my knowledge as well so I studied a lot. I noticed that continuing like this would not make my life easier. Every day I woke up thinking, shit! Thoughts like: I still don’t have a job. Will it ever happen? Maybe they will never hire me… ran through my head every day. But thinking about quitting? NEVER! If you are an unemployed pilot looking for a job, you might recognize yourself in my situation. The advise I can give you is to hold on and don’t give up or become ‘lazy’. I know that it is hard to be rejected, to spend loads of money for an interview, and to not even get a response at all. At least you tried. If you hold on and do the best you can then you will get the job eventually, believe me. Luckily for me it has only been 2 years, but understand that there are many people who have given up this dream because it took too long.
Look at it in a positive way
What I am going to say next is what I have experienced during the last few years and especially this year. It’s not just to cheer you up. When I graduated, everyone around me said that the market was becoming better and better and that I should get a job very soon. The biggest bullshit I have ever heard since it was based on nothing more than rumors and hope. These days though, a lot of airlines are hiring pilots and a lot of experienced European pilots move to the Middle East and China to earn more money. This means more space and more demand in Europe. Besides, there are a lot of oustanding airplane orders by many European airlines compared to a few years ago. Ryanair alone hires around 700/800 new pilots every year. What I am trying to say is that nowadays, the market is really changing. Before you know it there will be a pilot shortage. What this means? Get off that couch and make sure you rock that interview!
See you in the air colleague! 🙂