The post-COVID-19 pilot job market: How does the future job market look like and where is my place in it?
While there are a lot of unknowns on how recovery of the air transport industry will take place or when exactly it could happen, there is an indication that pilot jobs may be scarce. This guide will give you some essential tips how to prepare yourself for a highly competitive job market.
As we are waiting for the COVID-19 crisis to pass, it is natural to feel worried and frustrated. Some pilots have just been hired by an airline and fear they will be the first out. Others have been in-between jobs when the crisis hit and landed in a holding pool. Students will be graduating soon into a market that announced a hiring freeze. Atypically employed crew received nothing more than an email that their contract is terminated. It may be difficult to think of the pilot job market with positivity. But an optimistic, yet realistic view, is probably required for all of us to remain:
When the market opens up and hiring begins again, you will need to be fit and ready to go. This means not only physically but mentally fit.
To remain mentally healthy is much more difficult than just exercising or eating well. Each of us has individual issues, families, relationships or even finances to worry about. All structures and routines from the ‘pre-COVID’ lives have fallen apart. You will have to maintain your mental well-being whether you are a young pilot with huge debt, or a family with a new house and no income, or a 55-year-old who cannot afford to retire but knows they are unlikely to fly again. It is clear that COVID-19 has put a lot of pressure on the mental health of individuals. If you have access to a peer support program or group in your airline, you may want to use it to help you cope with potential problems. [see EPPSI.EU] If such a program doesn’t exist, try talking to your colleagues or seek professional help.
Keep your mind active with new challenges. Talk to your office of unemployment and research possible educational programmes, check out the many free online courses available now or follow aviation-industry webinars. Fancy writing? Freelance writers with knowledge about aviation are in short supply. There are many webinars, which will help you better understand the developments in the market and help you make an informed decision about your next move depending on how airlines handled the crisis, how viable they are financially and how they treated their employees. You may not be able to be picky about an employer in the future, but it will give you an idea of what to expect from management when things get messy. These activities will not only keep you occupied but will also help you come up with a plan B. Returning to flying commercially may still be a long way in the future. Plus, showing that you stayed focused, improved your non-technical skills and remained resilient during the crisis will make a positive impression on your future employer.
The physically fit part is probably the easiest one. Eat healthy, exercise to the extent it is possible and get fresh air. Sufficient sleep is and remains a top priority, especially now when you don’t have the hectic pilot rosters. Use this as an opportunity to build better sleep habits.
If you are furloughed or lost your job, make sure you have all documentation in order.
o No accident/incidents
o Flight Time verifications
o Letters of recommendations
o Last sim checks
o All other training documentation (I.e. ditching, safety and equipment, etc.)
If your company gets in financial trouble, it may become more difficult to collect all this down the line.
Even if you are not flying, review the aircraft systems, memory items and procedures for your current aircraft. If you are on furlough, then download the OM A and other documents as well. Download them timely as websites may close for a period of time.
Make sure your logbook and certificates are up to date. Talk to the local unemployment office about help renewing your medicals and licenses. Keep in mind that many European governments have relaxed rules, funded new programmes and have measures to help workers amid the COVID-19 crisis. Your union will also be able to give you accurate advice or tips on what the available state tools are to relieve some of the financial pressure. Which brings us to the hardest part:
None of us will want to admit that we could have handled our finances better. Or if you are at the beginning of your career, naturally, your financial situation may be very precarious.
Who do you owe debt to? Being proactive early is the key. Contact them and discuss the possibilities. There are already many programs in place to help with the situation and more being created weekly. House mortgages, rent, health insurance, student debt – some of these you may be able to defer even if that would bring more costs in the future. Still, it would be better than dealing with personal bankruptcy. Be aware that in many countries declaring bankruptcy could be considered a security risk and you could lose your license.
We are not alone in this crisis and we should be careful not to isolate ourselves. Talk to your fellow pilots and family. Assess your personal situation and try to stay positive and work on a future in aviation. Develop a viable plan B.
We have heard that the more optimistic companies and brokers are building pools of potential candidates for the post corona period. Interviews performed online should be done with the same thorough preparation that you would do if the interview was in person. The appendixes are attached to help you prepare.
Talk, share and be patient, but ask for help and information. Think outside of the box. Stay safe!
Appendix 1: A job interview during the Corona Crisis
Appendix 2: Data Mining and preparing
Appendix 3: The Corona Crisis is over; the industry has bounced back and is stronger than ever
Appendix 4: You passed the interview, congratulations!
Appendix 5: You did not pass…