What can you do whilst you job hunt or finish your ATPL flight course training? Read on...
Due to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, there is no doubt that many Airlines and Operators will go through severe cut backs and stop all further recruitment. I write this as something similar happened to me when I graduated from flight school. Although not as dramatic as Covid-19, it was still a major global economic recession back in 2008!
I was originally a cadet trainee pilot with ThomsonFly UK and upon graduation we were told there was no prospects on taking us any further for the Jet type rating or job. We were very devastated and knew it will be a long journey ahead of job hunting and searching. It was going to be tough as we humans fall and get de-motivated very quickly. Climbing up the ladder is what we struggle the most with and so you will have to learn to adapt to this new situation.
The biggest drive and energy you should focus on is the reasons you became a Pilot and how hard you have truly worked in your life to get this far. Let that first sink in before you let yourself fall or give-up in any way. Flying is an expensive game and you will be worried regarding many factors, e.g. keeping your license valid, flying skills, money, stress, etc. This list can go on and on! We know some of these things will cost and so the first most important task you need to face is to get any sort of job out there. I worked as a waiter again after so many years and although it was devastating, I was now earning some cash to survive and keep pushing forward. Heck! I even had extra cash to go out with old friends for a nice cold beer! Socialising and enjoying your life will always remain important as it will give your mind a break and allow you to re-energise. Do not disconnect yourself from the world at any cost!
In terms of job hunting I gave myself a to-do list every evening at home. This was to be done no matter what and there was no excuse to skip even a single day! I searched online for many jobs directly with airline websites, joined pilot blogs such as PPrune, bookmarked all the good pilot job hunting websites, registered wherever I could to be in their database, etc. Every evening I would sit and send my CV and Cover letter to several random pilot job emails and operators. Some of these emails were old and the email would come back undelivered but I didn't care at all. I kept sending a few random emails and applications every single day and would re-send to the same airlines and contacts again after 2-3 weeks just to stay at the top of the pile. This way if any jobs came up, at least I would stand a better chance! Do not give up with applications no matter what. I really need to emphasis on this as I know friends who did give up and that First-Officer job forever drifted away from them. Even now, 12 years later, they never ever re-tried. Once that mind gives up, you eventually lose complete hope and energy to fight for what is rightfully yours.
In terms of flying skills, that was a cheap solution, Microsoft flight simulator! We all have tried it and know of it. In fact it must be so good now compared to 12 years ago so you have no excuse! I used to fly the PMDG 737NG on it and practise all my IFR skills. Sure it wasn't a real Sim but trust me, if you practise this every other day, the skills and knowledge remain in your brains current database. This is highly important as you can not predict when that call for an interview may come, and when it does, you really need to be ready for that shot! Of course if you have some cash saved and can afford to go into a real simulator with an instructor for a couple hours, then even better. The important thing is to keep studying your theory time and again as a refresher and to keep your flying skills current.
Time will pass by and you may always feel that call will never come but somehow, the force on this planet at some point will always favour you when it is your turn to shine. I say this in a rather majestic form but after over a year of doing all the above, believe it or not I got offered three Airbus First Officer jobs within a span of 3 weeks. The industry always changes and the recruitment will start all over again. I mean just over a year ago, before Covid came into the equation, the industry was all about pilot shortages! Now that times are hard again, you may need to sacrifice one or two years of your time into fighting for survival and keeping your drive strong. Is it not worth your dream career for the rest of your remaining years ahead? The worst feeling will be regret, and believe it you do not want to go down that path. Back then, I got offered all three jobs that I applied for and now 12 years later I am a Captain on the A320. As I write this Im thinking, wait, I could be jobless again if Covid continues at this pace, but maybe I will be coming back to read what I have written to remind myself what this world's challenges and obstacles are all about! It will be tough yet again but Im still young and there's still a lot more flying left for me to do, and perhaps even more for you ahead.
I hope this article helps you in some small form at least as talking about similar experiences from someone who was in that same boat may give you a highlight of the brighter side of things ahead. Keep focused, stay motivated and don't let your energy slip away. You were born to do this and indeed you will at some point. Also be safe and wash your hands properly for now!
Best wishes to all Aviators alike,
Capt. Faraz Sheikh
You can follow me on the famous insta @Flightcopilot