Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to Succeed in Aviation

I’ve always found aviation to be an instant friendship, as well as an instant acceptance field particularly among flight crews. I’ve spent over 35 years as a major airline pilot and 20+ years helping pilots advance their careers and continue to see the importance of 4 basic ideas for a successful career and a fulfilling life.  These are:
  1. Show your passion for your chosen work (flying in this instance)
  2. Show those who can help you that you’re serious
  3. Be proactive on your own behalf
  4. Make it easy for others to help you

Most important is to show your passion for flying.  Whatever your niche may be, show others who can help you that you are serious.  For pilots that means hanging out at the airport, which we’ve all done (and enjoy doing), talking flying, learning from others, sharing the excitement of aviation with others and letting them know you’re EXCITED.  Go that extra mile to let them know it’s a pleasure to be there and you’re ready to get involved.
Then comes the part that counts…showing others who can help you that you are serious.  My book, Flight Guide for Success: Tips and Tactics for the Aspiring Airline Pilot, is all about demonstrating to those who can help you that you’re serious about aviation and will make sacrifices to show that you’re not just a ‘wannabe’.  Remember that we have all been helped by someone at some point in our careers and were able to move up thanks to their assistance.  As we advance, it’s our job to help those coming up behind us.  It is important to be concerned about making sure we help the REAL ones, not just the ‘wannabes’.  Therefore, your job is to demonstrate that you’ll make good use of the advice received, follow through with the job leads and report back to your advisor on your progress.  Staying in touch is the essence of successful networking.
Being proactive on your own behalf is crucial to your success.  If you need to find a contact in a particular company, talk with your source first, then send them an email reminding them of your needs. Provide them with the info they need to do the task you have requested, be it an address or a refresher on how you met and why you feel the reference would be appropriate.  Don’t make them extract the information from you. 

Finally, make it easy for others to help you.  If it’s a letter of recommendation you’re seeking, you can give them a de-identified letter that someone else has prepared for you, helping them to know more about you and what others think of you. If you’ve had special interactions with them, give them a short list of what you’ve accomplished.  Rather than making them feel it’s a burden or a big job to comply with your request, show them you’ve practically done their work for them. Remember, give them the tools to help you do what you’re asking for and you’ll quickly get what you need. 

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