More real stories from my e-mail in box and blog.
I was away for four days, completely off the grid. Even my cell phone didn’t work where I was. I had a lot of catching up to do when I got home Sunday night. This included my e-mail in box and comments on my blog. Both yielded fodder for this blog post.
The post is really about job hunting and two things you shouldn’t do when trying to find a job as a pilot. In this case, it’s a helicopter pilot job, but it could be any kind of pilot job. In fact, it could be just about any kind of job at all.
Fishing with Comments
The first was a comment on one of my blog posts. The post in question was from June, 2008. That’s over a year ago. I’d written about my upcoming work drying cherries in Washington State. The post had gotten a few comments — over a year ago. But this weekend’s comment came out of the blue and had very little to do with the post content:
Do you hire any pilots of have any pilots that help you out with flying?
Knowing the number of out-of-work helicopter pilots are out there, I automatically jumped to the conclusion that this person was fishing around for job openings. I wasn’t kind to him. (I really can be a bitch sometimes.) My response was:
If this is the extent of your job-hunting capabilities — posting comments on old blog posts — you may as well give up on finding any job. Sorry to be so blunt, but you asked for it.
After posting this snippy response, I considered that maybe he wasn’t looking for a job. Maybe he was just curious to know whether I hired other pilots to help me — but didn’t necessarily want to be one of those pilots.
But my first instinct was probably right.
The One-Paragraph Resume by E-Mail
The second poor job hunting attempt arrived in my Flying M Air e-mail in box. Keep in mind that unless you have my Flying M Air e-mail address, which I no longer publish anywhere, you can only e-mail me by filling in a form on Flying M Air’s Web site. The same page that includes the form also includes my phone number. Yet this person chose to use e-mail to inquire about job openings. Here’s what he wrote; I XXXed out the identifying info to protect this guy from personal ridicule:
Maria Langer/Chief Pilot:
My name is XXX and I am a commercial helicopter pilot. I am inquiring about whether there is an available pilot position within Flying M Air. I have a little over 200 hours total time, which consist of 120 hours in the R-22, R-44 pilot in command endorsement, 70(+)hours in the Hughes 300, and the Robinson safety course in 2008. In addition, I will be receiving my Associates in Applied Science degree-Flight Technology in December 2009. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an interview I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX or emailed at XXX@XXX.com.
This is wrong on so many levels:
- This guy has only 200 hours. What helicopter charter company would even consider hiring a pilot with barely enough flight time to qualify for a commercial certificate?
- This guy has only 10 hours of time in the aircraft my company owns and operates: an R44. (Do the math.)
- How much of this guy’s flight time is solo or other PIC? (Remember, he said total time.) I’m guessing less than 25 hours solo and only 100-125 PIC.
- Does this guy really think that an AS degree is worth anything to an employer looking for a pilot? (Or, with apologies to those of you who place significant value on a 2-year degree, any employer?)
- Is this the extent of this guy’s resume?
- Does this guy really think that an employer would call him for an interview after receiving a paragraph about him via e-mail?
Although I wanted to reply with any combinations of these thoughts that ran through my mind, I didn’t. Instead, I wrote:
Sorry, we don’t have any jobs available at this time.
And that brings up the real problem with this lame attempt at job-hunting: my reply e-mail bounced back. He’d entered the wrong e-mail address in the form.
Think of What You’re Asking For
When you ask for job, you’re asking for a responsibility.
For a pilot job, you’re responsible for your employer’s paying passengers or cargo. That means other lives or possibly valuable merchandise. Do you honestly think someone would consider hiring you when the best you can do is fish for a job online via blog comments or e-mail? When the ink is barely dry on your commercial pilot certificate? When you can’t even type in the correct e-mail address to get a response from the person you’re querying?
The helicopter job market is tight — especially for low-time pilots. The economy has tourism down — and tourism jobs are the entry level jobs most pilots wind up with. The other jobs are being filled by the out-of-work tour pilots who have just enough turbine time to give them added value to an employer. Silver State and the copycat flight schools that still exist are pumping out helicopter pilots after feeding them healthy doses of optimism and lies about the job market and taking their money — much of it acquired through loans.
The truth is, I don’t know of any employer who will hire a pilot with fewer than 500 hours of flight time. If they say they will, read the fine print. Are they really hiring and paying as a pilot? Or is it just a scam for them to get free pilots while suckers build flight time?
I get at least one contact per week from a helicopter pilot looking for a job. I’m not hiring. But I know that I wouldn’t hire the vast majority of the folks who contact me. They just don’t understand what it is that employers want and what they’re asking us to give them.