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United Airlines Captain offers tips about the industry and the profession

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Do you have any tips on how to break into the airline industry as a pilot? I've got all the necessary certificates, and the required hours have been achieved. My resume is in place and applications have been sent. With so many pilots looking for those few jobs, do you have any advice on how to be noticed and not be annoying? The airline companies say not to contact them after the resume and application are sent. Help! It costs $100.00 per application. How can this industry be cracked.for employment?

Insider Advice from
Gary Brauch
777 Captain
United Airlines

The writer doesn't indicate exactly how many hours and what ratings he has. A lot of pilots have all the ratings but their time is just too low for the majors (United, American, Delta, etc). These airlines generally are looking for at least 3,500 hours to even qualify for an interview (and of those invited for an interview, about one in five is hired).

Assuming he has this kind of flying time, there is no magic way to get the airline to offer an interview. United (for sure), and I believe the other majors, score the application by computer, and the interview offers are mailed based on the score. It doesn't matter who you know: if you don't have the Scantron score you won't get the interview.

Some tips
Make sure the application is prepared properly (very important) as a sloppy or inaccurate application will disqualify you immediately. It's worth the money (unless you have a lot of confidence in your ability to prepare it yourself) to get professional assistance with the application preparation. There are several options here; see publications like AIR, Inc and FAPA for the names of specific firms that can help you. [Headhunter's Note: if you don't know these publications, it's time to meet your local reference librarian. Get thee to the library.]

If the writer has around 1,500 hrs, he is probably looking for a job at a commuter airline, which is the best way to get the turbine and crew time the majors are looking for. The commuters are more chancy on who gets invited to interview, and with the smaller ones (Great Lakes, Mesa) it pays off to make a pest of yourself and stop in to the commuter's main operations office to see if you can get in to see the Chief Pilot.

The larger commuters (American Eagle, SkyWest) operate more like the majors. Again, AIR, Inc and FAPA are good sources for info on which commuters are hiring. There is an airline-oriented web site called AEPS (Airline Employment Placement Service) that is quite reasonably priced, also. You might also check the Aviation Employment site. [Headhunter's Note: these sites have stopped responding so we've removed the links. Suggestion: try a search engine.]

There are also several books on the market that help guide the pilot through the whole process -- available at FBO's and mail order ads in flying magazines. Hope this helps.

NOTE: The advice provided above is an opinion, not a professional service. Ask The Headhunter and the author of the advice are not responsible for its accuracy, use or mis-use.


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