Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hiring Time

I interviewed a couple of years ago at an airline I want to work for, and before I even got back from the airport there was a rejection email sitting in my spam folder. That hurt a little, but the company does that, and the interview itself was respectful and gave me no pause to worry about the company standards. They're hiring again, if you know who they are you know who they are, so I'm applying again. I find this process painfully difficult.

I can hammer out five epic blog entries in an afternoon off, but ask me to write half a page on a cover letter explaining why an employer should hire me and I'm almost paralyzed. Sometimes I start with the stupidest most simplistic letter possible and then pretend someone else wrote it and I'm helping them fix it.

When I started in this industry, I used to mail resumes and cover letters in an envelope with a stamp on it. Or sometimes I faxed them. Then came sending the resumes as an attachment to e-mail. Then airlines started having application forms on their websites. That didn't work out so well, especially for the airline that has the worst IT in the country. There were security problems and database crashes. Now airline websites link to third party recruiting engines, like Workopolis or Taleo. And they switch between them every so often so you have to resubmit everything.

So here goes for this one. I'm stumped on the first question. It's "How did you hear about this job?" I heard about it because a friend e-mailed me to let me know about it, and another one called me. But there's no "employee referral" option in the dropdown. There's not even a choice for "word of mouth" or "employee referral." My options are:

  • company website
  • job board/website
  • magazines and trade publications
  • newspapers
  • organizations
  • talent exchange
  • university/college

There isn't even an other. I pick "organizations" as representing "the loose organization of people who are friends with Aviatrix." Shoot, now it demands I specify the organization, and my choices are limited to aboriginal youth and Métis organizations. I recheck the job title. Maybe I'm being racist: I know there are a few aboriginal/Métis pilots in Canada who are qualified for this position, I'm even aquainted with at least one, but it's not a demographic you see heavily represented in this field. Those who have the qualifications almost certainly also have the connections such that the "Calgary Urban society for Aboriginal Youth" would not be their primary source of pilot job tips.

I know you're rolling your eyes and saying, "just pick something, Aviatrix!" They don't really care how I found out, and now is not the time to be stunned about how marketers collect statistics that overinflate their effectiveness. I almost go with the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth. But it's a job application. I don't round my time up to the nearest thousand hours when I'm one hour under. Lying on a job application is a serious matter. I DON'T DO IT. But it is impossible for me to answer this question without lying. And yes, it's starred as a mandatory question so I can't skip past it. Is this an anti-nerd screening device? Finally I claim to have heard about the job on the company website, because hey, the job is listed here, and I got here from the company website, so technically I did hear about the job here. If it had asked I first heard about the job, I'd be trapped there still.

In the address, at first there's no place for me to put the name of my province. Oh there it is, after country (which has a drop-down with every country on the planet). Then there's another drop-down for the region of the province, in case the person processing the application can't figure out where the candidate's town is, I guess. It's not a list of destinations served by the airline. Most of the "region" names are towns or cities, not all with airports, and a couple really are names of regions.

There's a checkbox to select if I'm an internal candidate. I leave the box unchecked, but the form has been coded so it complains that I haven't entered my employee number if I don't fill in "NA." And I would totally work in Uruguay, but I didn't check that option, because I don't think my Spanish is good enough to be considered for a position there.

Then I uploaded an updated resume, answered all the other questions, and hit submit. We'll see if anything comes of it. If this doesn't work out, maybe there is a job open somewhere for a user interface critic.

Pretty much every job I've ever been hired for, I got by going to see someone in person. They weren't always the person who made the hiring decision, but they were someone I had a connection to. If you're looking for a job in aviation, making and keeping contacts is probably even more important than keeping your ratings current. If you're in the industry in Canada, then you probably know the company I'm talking about, and if you can provide any contacts or guiding information, I'd appreciate it. It would be poor resource management for me not to take advantage of any help that is available.


Traveller said...

I so understand about lists that do not contain "Other". When I design forms, I actually add the "Other" option first. I've been known to leave it even when the list really does have all possible entries. (I've even left it in the Gender list on occasion, but I allow QA to remove it when they gripe.)

Good Fortune!

sounddoc said...

best of luck!

i'm hoping to get on the backside of the upcoming u.s. hiring curve, hopefully in a year or two when the 65-ers retire. i'm doing my best to make connections (meaningful ones at that) because as we both know, and you mention; the best aviation jobs are born in hangars. i've even gone so far as to call HR for a small well known twin prop outlet in massachusetts just to ask how i should be modelling my career after the commercial rating.

well, best of luck, and if it can be considered a sign, when i powered up my brand new transceiver this morning the first communication i heard was a flight out of boston of the company you're applying to!

Chris said...

Is this a company that Captain Doug is connected with?

5400AirportRdSouth said...

Good Luck!

With the impressive readership of your blog, I would be very surprised if it didn't lead, directly or indirectly to helping your career at some point. Not to sound creepy, but after reading along for the past four years, I feel like I know you a "little".

I can only imagine how many others would say the same and are themselves slowly moving into positions of hiring authority and/or at least a hey-I-know-someone-we-can-hire sort of position where your name would come up.

It is, after all, a small world...

Michael5000 said...

Man. And paper forms worked so well for these kind of things....

Mike Kear said...

I know it's no help to you, but its the same in the IT business. Nowdays we web developers don't get to meet any humans until almost the last step. We have to fill in an online form that usually asks inappropriate questions that do nothing to enlighten the recruiter about you, and dont allow you to say what you need to.

k1mgy said...

Perhaps their recruiting/application process might say volumes about what it would be like to work for them. I would find the sort of stupidity you describe a severe turn off.

If it's too large to be human, it may not be.

Inspector said...

Hi Aviatrix,

I've been reading your blog for a few years now and have to say that I always enjoy it!

I applied to the same job, although I suspect that your qualifications are way beyond mine! Since you asked, I also know a few people at this job, so maybe we should trade emails.

Best of luck! I really hope you get the break you`re looking for! And when you do, please keep writing!

Anonymous said...


If we judged all companies like that, we'd never work anywhere. HR works about 5 cubicles down the hall from me, and even they admit their responsiveness is horrible.

From the perspective of the candidate, they don't respond, they don't meet the timeframes they set, they don't share information, and the just generally treat the candidates like crap.

However, they do serve the ones who they are paid to serve, and those who evaluate them, which is the hiring manager.

For most of the companies I have applied to, or worked for: If we treater customers the way we treated candidates, we'd be out of business next week.