Airline Job Fairs
Depending on your career objective, there are dozens of opportunities to meet established aviation professionals. Airline job fairs offer one easily-accessible point of entry. When asked what single thing he wished he had known about the aviation industry when he was just starting out nearly 30 years ago, Mark Rambis, who now trains pilots on the brand-new Boeing 787 aircraft, said he wished he had understood the importance of job search networking for future positions. Networking takes nearly limitless shapes, but the first step in doing it successfully is making contacts, and that means locating people who are already established in the aviation industry.
Dozens of airline and aviation industry career fairs happen all over the country every year and are targeted toward different groups: college students, flight attendants, pilots, A&P mechanics, ramp agents, customer service reps, and every other job function. Many different kinds of groups host these events, each with their own goals and objectives. A job fair sponsored by an aviation job board might focus on improving resumes and honing interview skills, while an airline-sponsored career fair may focus on promoting the benefits of working for that one company. To make a career fair as effective as possible, do a little online research first and find a fair that meets your objectives. In other words, if you are a business-school grad looking for a job on the corporate side of the airline, don’t waste your time at a recruiting fair alongside people seeking pilot or flight attendant jobs. Once you find the right venue, make sure you know what to expect. Will hiring managers be attending? Will there be same-day interviews? Many of the airlines struggle to keep their customer service and ramp agent jobs filled to capacity, so they are very eager to hire for these positions. Candidates for these positions should come prepared to interview, and they could even receive an offer the same day.
Whatever position you’re looking for, be sure to dust off your resume and print several copies. It may even be worth the investment to print a small batch of business cards with your name and contact information if you don’t have employer-supplied cards. Make sure to dress as if you were going to an interview for the job you want. Reread the description of the job fair and make sure you understand any requirements about start times that you have good directions.
Once in a job fair, it can be easy to get lost among all the displays and crowds of people. Make the most of the day by creating a plan of action ahead of time. For example, write down three questions you want to answer by the end of the day, and then investigate everything, ask questions, and clearly express your interest.
Although airline job fairs can be a great networking experience, they are far from the only opportunity for making connections in the industry. Find out what kinds of associations people in your target job belong to. Visit the association’s web site, find out about upcoming seminars and meetings in your area, and attend the ones that are interesting to you. Seminars are not usually clogged with job applicants, and they are not usually attended by representatives of the corporate Human Resources department, but by people who are already doing the kind of job you want. It’s a great opportunity to get a more in-depth view of current issues in your future career field, and (because of the seminar topic) you are guaranteed to have an entry point into a conversation. Again, this is a great place to bring a small stack of business cards.