8 Keys to Landing a Corporate Pilot Job
Whether your goal is to fly for a small local operator that has you home every night or to globe trot in a state of the art jet, or anywhere in between – corporate aviation has a variety of work opportunities available to pilots.
Depending on the job market getting your foot in the door can sometimes be a difficult task. Below are eight keys to making the most of your pilot career and hopefully landing your dream corporate pilot job.
1) Networking is King
The axiom “it’s not what you know but who you know” is especially true in the corporate pilot world. Pilots are often hired with less experience than competing job candidates based on the connections they’ve made.
Compared to most pilot employers corporate flight departments are particularly keen on finding personalities that are a good fit for their operation. Pilots play a central role in these operations and are responsible for more parts of the airplane’s operation. Corporate pilots directly interface with the airplane passengers on a regular basis.
Use Social Media for Networking
Social media has become a ubiquitous part of life for most people. Some choose to share their dinners on Instagram, while others choose to detail their lives on Facebook. But social media can also be a great tool for out professional lives. People can get far more reach and are better able to stay in contact with people they would otherwise lose track of.
LinkedIn is among the best social media platforms for making and maintaining professional contacts. In addition to social networking sites pilot forums such as airlinepilotcentral and jetcareers can be valuable tools for staying up-to-date on changing opportunities.
Social media is best used for professional networking by participating in discussions related to your career, sharing posts related to working as a professional pilot, and conveying your passion for flying.
Stay In Contact With Your Network
As you work on building out your professional network make sure that it doesn’t whither on the vine. Make an effort to periodically say hi to your contacts and see how they are doing, and make sure to ask them about how their professional endeavors are going.
2) Start Early
If you know that working as a corporate pilot is what you want to do it will serve you well to get as early a start on your career as possible.
A good first step is to get a job at working line service at fixed base operator that serves corporate jets. Consider doing this before you have your commercial pilot license. This can potentially give you access to reduced cost flight training as well as a good networking opportunity for your first flight instructor job.
Working in a position where you get exposure to corporate jet operations will significantly increase your opportunity to make industry contacts. Many corporate jets tell the tail of getting their first big break from working at a fixed base operator.
3) Leverage Available Job Search Options
Many job search options exist for pilots. Some of these are employer websites, traditional jobs boards, pilot recruiters, pilot job conferences, pilot staffing agencies, and new programmatic matching options.
In addition to networking a well-rounded job search should include several different types of methods. The best plan uses a variety of options that gives pilots a complete picture of what they are worth in the existing employment market.
At least one of the methods you choose to use should have a mechanism that allows pilots to receive multiple employment offers.
4) Be Mindful of Your Image
Here’s the exhausting part of your job search. As you network and maintain a social media presence you will be building and maintaining a personal brand. Your brand is how you present yourself to the world.
You have to decide what you want your brand to be. To you want to be known as the obnoxious person screaming about politics? Do you want to present yourself as the selfie spammer seeking affirmations?
If you want to be known as a competent and professional pilot work to maintain your personal brand as such. It would be a good to not be known for taboo subjects such as religion or politics or to be known as an attention seeker.
5) Build Your Pilot Experience and Skills
As with pursuing any pilot career path, you will want to make it a priority to obtain a range of quality flight experience. Corporate jet pilot employers value experienced pilots. Networking remains king in corporate aviation but all things being equal, employers will prefer higher experienced pilots.
Even if you already have an in with an employer they may have minimum requirements for pilot experience set by their insurance or type of operation.
When you are working in your first pilot job take every opportunity for additional flight experience that may come your way. Through networking and keeping a pulse on the local aviation environment these additional opportunities are surprisingly available.
Part 135 Pilot Job For Building Experience
If you are having difficulty getting your foot in the door at a dream corporate pilot position pursuing a job with a part 135 charter operator can get you additional opportunities.
Many part 135 passenger charter operations use corporate jets. These positions will give you a chance to gain experience in the airplane types your desired employers operate and can give you more opportunities for networking.
6) Set a Flexible Goal
It is important to set and work towards career goals. However, being rigid with a specific goal can delay advancement through the pilot career ladder. Be open to opportunities as they arise – just making sure that they move you forward through your career. Have an idea of what your dream job looks like but not tying that dream to a specific employer or airplane type.
7) Get to Know the National Business Aircraft Association
The National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 11,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show.
The NBAA offers pilots education and career development services as well as jobs boards and networking activities.
8) Don’t Get Too Comfortable In a Position
Corporate pilot jobs are among the most volatile pilot positions. Even after you’ve landed your dream job – don’t become complacent. Always stay active and in communication with your professional network. Keep your marketable skills and recency of experience as fresh as you can. And stay current on the pilot job market and opportunities.
Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated close to 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, and working as a manager in charge of a part 135 and part 121 training programs. Greg took a 5 year hiatus from flying and worked in software development and marketing. He has returned to flying and works for a major airline. Greg enjoys educating and helping pilots improve their professional lives and is passionate about applying technology and new methods to help with traditional challenges.