I have been getting quite a few requests for resume help these days, but basically, I am too busy (!) so here is a summary of some things I have said/done/told people to do regarding resume and cover letter writing.
"I am getting some quite strange resumes these days, some that are good and some that, well, will never be read. So rather than rewriting numerous "dog's breakfast" objects, I will re-post some of the hints that I gave a year or so back.
There are a few things you can do to make an aviation/pilot resume that I think will work better than most of what I've seen. Remember, writing a resume and a cover letter is a skill just like cross-wind landings - someone needs to show you how and you need to practise.
Remember the average guy looking at your resume will give it a minute or less to absorb your facts - make it easy for him. This includes your cover letter!
1. Make it simple - don't screw around with fonts and tables: bolding, italics and underlining should be used VERY sparingly, if at all. Pick a simple font in size 12 and use very few variations. Tables are cool but way too fiddly - don't use fancy tables (they are nightmare to edit, too). Remember you're a pilot, not a graphic artist.
2. No 'Objective' - we all know you want to be a pilot, right?
3. The order: flying hours at the top. Licenses (don't forget the expiry date and number!) Hours, rounded - nobody cares if you have 7.2 hours in a Murphy Moose. Put 10 hours. And use the proper ICAO designation: PA31 not Piper Navajo PA-31-350 engines.
4. Don't list every single you've ever flown unless you are looking for a job on a C172. Group them together with a total. Likewise tiny twins, unless you want a tiny-twin job. If its an a/c that your intended uses, put it down.
5. Don't put in your flying school unless it was the Test Pilot School at Farnbrough - nobody cares where you flew the 152, they'll talk about it at the interview.
6. The 'education' section is for degrees and diplomas - don't put down your high school unless its for Cathay Pacific - they'll ask.
7. Unless you have 10,000 hours, keep the resume to one page. Even then, try.
8. Do not list every job older than 10 years ago - its not material. Do not hide them, though. You can group them together. If you have a gap where you were recovering from an STD or were on EI, skiing, explain it.
9. Include your references - "on request" just wastes everybody's time. Make sure your references won't mind being called. Think about your current job and if you want your CP called? Only include one personal reference out of three. Also, nobody writes anymore - addresses take up space - just make sure there is a rank and a good phone number.
10. Put your name up top and have your contact info clearly readable - you don't need to say 'phone' 604-911-0045 - we can all tell its a phone number; likewise 'e-mail' - we all know what one of those looks like. Remember - KIS, the space will count for making it one page.
Some people say your contact info should not be on the top - I disagree because you want them to remember your name!
These are some of the tips I've given to the 150 or so resumes I have looked at/edited for people on this site.
Don't forget the importance of the cover letter - it is an 'executive summary' of what you have to offer and its virtually all about you. You do not have to impress the CP of how much you know about their company, nor do you have to tell him how good it is or how much you like it. All that stuff will come out on an interview.
It is a FORMAL letter, unless the CP is your brother or you owe them money; remember he may show it to someone...bone up on how to write a formal business letter, proof-read it, use no slang, use punctuation carefully.
- in your opening sentence, state your goal/request/aim/purpose.
- in your next paragraph (you know when to start a new paragraph?) tell them what you are doing and tell them what you've done, then,
- start a new paragraph and tell them how long you've been doing it
- start another (you know) and tell them something flattering about yourself and something flattering about the company and how well you're going to fit together, keeping this bit VERY short.
- thank them for reading all this stuff
- sign it
- Remember, a one-page cover letter absolutely max. Unless you really are the Commander of Air Force One, you don't have to fill the page.
- only put the company name and the CP's name in the top of the letter, never in the body of the letter otherwise you will forget to change it and send it out again to someone else and you will get binned
- only list your phone number and e-mail address on top of your resume, no point in repeating it in the letter, it takes up room
- simple fonts, no bullsh*t, as per the resume.
Here is an example, (in brackets) is optional:
Home address in a header
Date, if its not in your header
Attention: Mr. Dewey Screwem, Ops Manager
Please accept this resume as my application for a pilot position with your company.
I have 5000 hours flown throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC. I have held the positions of Chief Pilot, Operations and Maintenance managers; I have extensive remote, mountainous, salt water and tidal experience.
I have a Canadian and an FAA ATPL, B744 and A320 type ratings. I am currently the Commander of Air Force One.
I am an effective communicator, creating a sense of security and comfort in my passengers; safety, quality workmanship and professionalism were instilled into me during the earliest days of my career.
I am proficient with the CARS and have extensive management experience, along with a degree in Business Administration.
Prior to career flying, I spent nine years with Air Canada as an airframe technician working on medium and heavy aircraft.
(In concert with the dynamic expansion that your company is experiencing, I envision a long and satisfactory relationship.) I am looking forward to meeting you and discussing my future with your company. Thank you for your kind consideration.
Your name - Don't you dare write "Professional Pilot" or BA/BS after your name, you are technically only entitled to follow your name with Masters or higher degrees only!
I have included a generic resume sample
here, but its formatting doesn't translate. I cannot send you one from my computer any more. Sorry.When you get your interview, do not give them money!
They are entitled to a bond from you, your word to stay for a fixed length of time to compensate for your training, that's all.
Break a leg.
I wrote this as a reply to someone: Most of the resumes I produce are for low-time guys. I am not trying to be the expert on all aspects of the industry and if you read my stuff I say that there are differences if you are high-time. If you are starting out and you have very little life experience, what will you put on a second page? I have had one client with a Master's degree and a Law degree who was starting out, but he is very much the exception.
Government and head-hunted and major airline jobs have different requirements, but I think you will agree that few of these jobs are available for the low-timer.
Most of what I am doing is providing a way to present information to the recruiter in such a fashion that it is easy to read, the reader gets the information he needs right away and the document is not binned through incoherence, frustration or silly mistakes such as spelling. The rest of it is up to the client - the follow-up, the preparation, the phone interview the person-to-person interview is all hard work done by the client, but you won't be invited to any of that if they can't stand to read about you.
Just about every major organization wants your stuff in their own application form, be it on-line or hand-written and most only want a resume attached. The cover letter is different, but I'll bet you have to write a letter that tells them something they want to hear before you are invited to fill out their form, unless you only shop the want ads or the internet...besides, you should be prepared to fill in the blanks that ask "...why do you want to work for Gigantic Airlines?" or "...what aspect of working for Numbnuts Air most interests you?"
All of these guys structure their stuff so that somebody like me cannot help!
I just got this this morning!
Just wanted to let you know that last night I sent my resume to some companies including Xxxxxx Air. This morning I got a call from Xxxxxx. I will be flying to Xxxxxx to meet with them sometime next week they will call me later today to let me know what day to fly down there. Xxxxxx was one of the companies that I really wanted to work for so I’m very excited. Thanks so much for your help. I’ll let you know if I got the job.
That is 100% of the reason that I do this stuff.
A couple of tips that I picked up this week as I just sat in on somebody else's resume writing seminar. This, of course, was a generic resume applicable to secretaries and comptrollers, not so much for pilots.
The most interesting topic was addresses - "NEVER PUT YOUR ADDRESS ON YOUR RESUME" because it might prejudice your chances for a job! The reason being that you will not be contacted by mail except for a rejection letter; you will be phoned or e-mailed; you might also be rejected because you don't yet live where the job is and it will be a hassle to get you there and maybe the recruiter is prejudiced about Moncton (or wherever) and thinks only bozos live there!
We all know to NEVER include your age, marital status, sexual preference or colour, right? That one is kind of a given.
If you have an e-mail address such as email@example.com
, or firstname.lastname@example.org
, CHANGE IT! Pick something that just has your name on it. And like Petite says, don't send out resumes from a correctional institute OR your current job!
Add these to your list.
Yes, you can find out where someone lives by working out their area code, but there really isn't very much you can do about that.
All this stuff is entirely up to the individual - you can do your resume any way you wish - I'm just the messenger in all this, you yourselves do all the work.
I did get affirmation from the guy running the seminar that simplicity is the key; no funny fonts or pictures or italics, excess bolding or underlining. What I want to see on a resume and cover is everything that an employer wants or needs to see in a resume and nothing more, so bolding and underlining etc. are gilding the lily. Good words, simple information, simply displayed. No typos, good spelling, good punctuation and good information.
I have always toasted the 'objective' on all the pilot resumes, because for a pilot, it is pointless and obvious and goes against my simplicity tenet, but for an AME or any other non-flying position it has a purpose and is a reasonable thing to include.
As for the photo, unless you are George Clooney or Angelique Whatzzername I think a photo has more potential to harm your application than to benefit it - you don't want to get hired coz you're cute and you certainly don't want to NOT get hired because you're not!
There really is no formula for all this - you are just trying to present your credentials to someone and not exasperate or annoy them but capture their interest long enough to consider you as a candidate. Like I continuously repeat, this is your gig, you can put whatever you want on your resume and you are free to disagree with anything that I suggest. I only passed on these tips from this other guy's employment seminar, to add to the arsenal of things that have been proven to work.
On your resume, your last job, instead of being to 'present' would be up to, say, Sept/08.
For flying jobs for a lower-timer I use a strictly chronological resume and so you should explain large or curious gaps. Its not a mystery to employers in this industry that lots of us get laid off, just make it look like a normal seasonal thing, not that you're a job-jumper or some other kind of disaster.
If you are high-time, a functional resume is probably best and gaps don't make much difference as the fact you worked for UnderDog Air for 14 years will say more about you than the winter you were on the EI Ski Team.
I have come around to agree with the address thing - it can't possibly help and it can possibly hinder. On balance, don't include it. If you are doing a road trip and you are applying to wherever you are, then you don't live where you say you do anyway, you live where you are hoping to work!
I don't think including a degree is a downer for a northern operator. Its more your attitude that counts. If you act like the "...a fancy city boy who is much smarter than you yokels and I'll run for the airline at the first opportunity..." then you don't deserve to get the job. If you have a can-do, what-has-to-be-done, where do I begin? attitude you will do well.
Remember this is simply advice, not rocket science; I am reporting what I have seen and heard and learned with some personal experience thrown in, trying to pass on what works.
Once upon a time in an off-season once, I helped an HR friend set up a head-hunter business. When we received a resume for a position, we gave it a letter grade from A+ to F, (just like school) and complexity, spelling, gaps, grammar, ease of reading, conciseness (is that a word?) etc. etc. all have an effect upon the end grade. Guess which pile we called for interviews? It was the writer's chance to catch our attention and the resumes that did not cut to the chase, were too much trouble to read, weren't, they were put in a deferred pile to be gone over 'later' because I only had so much time to read them and we had places to fill. You don't want your resume in that pile, or simply tossed.
1. flight time
3. previous jobs/relevant experience
5. personal stuff (not hobbies or marital status)
6. references (2 professional, 1 personal, if you want - NO RELATIVES. If your dad is a senior captain at AC and you want to work there, tell them in your cover!)
For an entry-level job and, oh, all jobs below corporate/majors, one page only.
Its a formal business letter, addressed to the company attn. someone.
An 'executive summary' of your resume. You have about 30 seconds to make an impression so you don't want to beat around the bush. I never mention the name of the company in the letter to save editing because you will be sending out 'lots.' You are an unknown and you want exposure to as many companies as possible.
Tell 'em what you want.
Tell 'em what your time is.
Tell 'em what your experience is.
BS 'em a little if you are in the mood; "I was raised by gypsies and overcame many hardships to excel as a pilot."
Tell 'em how excited you are to meet them.
Avcanada Pilot November 8, 2008
8456 Dump Valve Drive,
Toronto, ON M6T 3R2
514 455 6787
514 344 8295 mobile email@example.com
Air Canada Jazz
2411 Blue Water Street
Toronto, ON M5W 1E6
Attn: Capt. Dewey Screwem
Please accept my resume as an application for a position as a pilot with your company.
I have an ATPL with 2200 hours, 1900 hours pilot-in-command and 1700 hours multi-engine; I also have 400 hours turbine. I am currently employed as a Captain with Numbnuts Air in Toronto on a Lockheed Electra.
My experience with operations throughout Winnipeg has broadened my skills; my commitment to safety and SOPs, my character, work ethic and flight technical skills would make a significant contribution to your firm.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss my future with your company.
Remember, the average guy looking at your resume will maybe give it a minute to absorb your facts - make it easy for him. This includes your cover letter!
Basically, what you are trying to do is put information in front of employers. How you do that changes from era to era. What I think is needed in an era where you are bombarded with information is to use a simple, non-complicated format to do just that. Face it, if you have 300 hours and they are looking for a 744 captain, they will look at the hours ONLY and toss it. But that works both ways too, because if they are looking for an entry-level guy and he has 300 hours and can be summed in one page, you go to the top of the pile. If they need to read through two pages of high school courses, flying schools and burger jobs, they will also toss it.
Everybody has an opinion on a resume - some like to make them creative and fancy, using all the fonts, tables, squiggles and curlicues they can find on their computer, dividing it all up with lines and arrows. What information does a line or arrow convey? What exactly are you offering an aviation employer? Creativity? Design skills? Or are you offering professionalism, experience and an aviation 'attitude?' As offensive as it seems, that's why some company's want photos.
Any resume will do if you are the right fit for a particular job - the resumes I prefer can be absorbed in almost a glance and will provide all the information a prospective employer needs without annoying him more than the hiring process already is.
Probably because nobody will read it...Relevant qualifications, fine, but you will have to do WHMIS when you get hired, plus all the other stuff they need now, and I doubt if anybody cares where you did your training, only what your license has written on it - the rest could be an interview question.
Ask yourself this question - if you have to read 500 documents in the next few days, how much detail are you going to read? What will you look for? I think that is a good way to think of your resume. The fact you like to go fishing and read mysteries is a total waste of paper.
I just re-read this and did some editing - I hope I have helped you in your search.
Your cover should be an 'Executive Summary' of who you are and what you want. By all means tell them how great they all are, but don't expect it to get read unless its really weird, then it will get passed around the pilot lounge!"