When we leave the service at the end of our obligations, we typically have a plan. But, sometimes that plan doesn’t reflect either reality or the current civilian work environment for which we are unaccustomed. What can we as military pilots do to ensure that our efforts are best served and that we market ourselves appropriately?
First things first is putting together our résumés. Think about it, when was the last time you had to put together a simple résumé? Many of you probably have said never….others once or twice based on what you did prior to joining the service (and I’m betting that that was a long time ago). Well fear not, as many before you have had the same concerns and issues that you have. Let’s talk some basic do’s and don’ts for the transitioning military pilot:
1. Market yourself based on your experience.
Let’s face it, you’ve received the absolute best training in the world and were responsible for expensive, cutting edge equipment, material, and people. Use this information to communicate to your prospective employer the cold hard facts about what you’ve done, where you’ve been, and what you have to offer. List your qualifications and hours as well as any aircraft you may have flown throughout the course of your career. Furthermore, list your designations and endorsements as well so that the employer knows what type of flight leadership they are getting if they were to hire you.
2. Appear willing to learn new platforms and take on different roles within the organization.
Bad news: You’re not going to be an Eagle or Hornet driver anymore. Nor are you going to be an evaluator performing check-rides right off the bat. Good News: There’s a whole new world of opportunity in the commercial field. Think of it as platform selection time all over again. You could land a job as an A319 First Officer or you could be flying CRJs. Either way, be prepared to embrace your new position and perform as you always have and be ready to jump on new opportunities as they come up down the road. If you perform well and put in your time, you’ll set yourself up for success.
3. Do not approach the interview or prospective employer with any condescending or “holier than thou art” attitude based on your personal background and experience.
You may have been a squadron commander or the senior guy on deck at your old job, however, this does give you free reign to be a jerk to anyone at the prospective company or airline. Remember, you may have the hours and qualifications to fly a multi-engine platform right off the bat, but you’ll still be the FNG at your company when compared against your senior peers.
4. Do not lie about your hours or qualifications.
With the extreme amount of former military pilot in the industry, you’re bound to run into somebody you know, or somebody that knows you. If you’ve exaggerated your quals or hours in any way on your résumé, somebody will find out, it’s just a matter of time. That being said, you will be asked to submit copies of all logs, records, endorsements, etc., so be prepared and have these items ready during the application and interview process.
I hope this helps guide you in the right direction when putting together your résumé. Bottom line: Be honest and humble and let your experience speak for itself.