Thursday, December 24, 2020

How to Get Your Pilot Resume in the Wrong Pile

My company is hiring. Not a lot of aviation companies are right now. I'm seeing a lot of resumes. Far too many to honestly evaluate every individual one.  I understand better than I used to the value of having  a friend walk your resume in.  But I recommend you apply through the regular channel as well. Somewhere in my office there is a pile of walked-in resumes that I'm not looking at, because I'm working from home, and back when I accepted them, the choice of pilots was not so great.

Now, faced with an inbox full of resumes, I am almost looking for a reason to throw yours aside. Here, let me help you find a job, and some other chief pilot not have to look at your terrible application. Here are some reasons I have hit the delete key:

  • not even close to the published job requirements

You're just annoying when you do this. I sometimes want to hit reply and ask the candidate why he is wasting my time. Don't apply blindly to every job.  If there's a job you really want when you have enough time, write that chief pilot a letter when they aren't hiring and tell them that's your ambition, that you don't yet have their requirements, but you're working on it.  If they give you advice, thank them, take it, and write back again later to thank them for how the advice worked out.  I've got a job that way, lacking the required time.

  • misspell the name of the company you're applying to

This one is most amusing when coupled with resume claims about your attention to detail. If you really have attention to detail you'll find out how that company likes its name capitalized, and whether they routinely use the Co. or the Inc. If the name is difficult and you copy paste it into to your cover letter, ensure the font and typeface match, so it doesn't look like a Reader's Digest Sweepstakes mailout from the 1980s.

  • don't include your types flown with your jobs on the resume
Listing all the types you've flown at the top of the resume doesn't do it for me. It's not a minus, but I assume it's a full on listing of everything you have in your logbook, not the aircraft you have worked as a pilot on for six months or more. I don't really care about that one time you ferried a Twin Comanche from Swift Current to Moose Jaw or when your friend gave you some stick time in his Yak-52. Okay, the Yak-52 is pretty cool and I might ask you about it at the interview, but you're unlikely to get the interview if I'm not seeing a progression of aircraft types flown commercially at various companies. Yes, I probably know what aircraft many of those companies operate, but don't make me guess which ones you were flying when.
  • list yourself as 'pilot' on two crew aircraft
I'm left wondering, are you saying 'pilot' the way a first officer does in the bar to try to sound more impressive to a pick-up target, or are you saying it the way a news reporter does, referring to the captain, because they think the first officer is not actually a pilot?  Either way it doesn't speak to CRM or a desire to communicate clearly. If you upgraded during your tenure, list yourself as captain, and if you were simultaneously captain on one type and FO on another, list both positions. If you flew a type normally operated two-crew, note that you were single-pilot.
  • make me hunt for your hours flown

If you're hiding them, they're probably insufficient. If you don't put them on at all why are we here?

  •  include the decimals in your hours

That was adorable when you soloed at 10.3 hours but stops once you're looking for a job.

  • fail to follow the instructions given in the job ad

If I hire you. I will be giving you instructions.  Consider the application to be a short test of whether you are willing and able to follow instructions. 

  • phone me, phone my colleagues, or physically visit the office

Someone did the last, repeatedly, during a pandemic. 

  • omit contact information
It's unfair, perhaps, but while I don't want you to contact me by any means than that specified in the job ad, I want to be able to contact you.  Put your current phone number, a respectable-looking e-mail address you monitor, and at least a city, on your resume and cover letter. Tip: if there is an address in the same area as the employer where you can receive mail, list it on your resume and cover letter. We started our search with candidates with local ties. I probably bypassed local folks because their telephone area codes reflected the province or territory where they last worked and not where they are today.
  • use the same cover letter for all employers

I understand there are employers who don't care about cover letters, but I expect the candidate to do some of the work for me there. Rather than me combing through the resume looking for the bits relevant to me, the competent applicant highlights the aspects of their resume that are most relevant to the job, showing how they match each job requirement. The really savvy applicant matches the tone of the letter to that of the ad, brings in more information that shows they know the company, and persuades me they want this job especially.  A cover letter applying for a job that doesn't match mine tells me the applicant doesn't want the job I'm hiring for.

  • waste any time applying
The first resume into my inbox got an interview. The person did also meet all the criteria, with a fantastic cover letter, so it's possible they would have got the interview anyway. But after three days I had so many applications that I took down the ad and a day or so later started filtering subsequent applications into a Late folder that I'm not sure I've ever opened. This is totally unfair, as I did not put an application deadline on the ad, but I can only look at so many resumes. While many of the points above are somewhat mocking, this one is just a reality of today's pilot job market. 

Not all employers are going to agree with all of these, so if you hire pilots and like what I hate, feel free to say so in the comments. I started off this post blowing off steam, but there are so many really good candidates out there, I don't want them to blow a chance with a poor first impression.

Good luck out there. I might follow up with some strategies I saw on winning resumes and cover letter, or what made us think yes and no during interviews.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

EFB Forever

Nav Canada has just discontinued the issuance of paper approach plates, the little diagrams telling pilots the safe and legal way to arrive at runways in bad weather. They used to come out every 56 days, but the last ones expired about a month ago. You may recall -- if you have a really good memory -- previous posts I have made comparing the utility and reliability of paper and electronic charts. My opinion on this matters no more. Every operator in Canada must convert to an electronic form. I have been wondering every fifty-six days since I started this process how many operators neglected to read the little yellow insert in the Nav Canada publications box warning us of the end, and who are only this month finding out that they have to convert. And no, Transport Canada doesn't let us just pick up an iPad and go. The company operations manual has to give painful detail on how the hardware and software will be administered. My manuals aren't quite as interesting as my blog posts, although these days they are issued far more frequently.

This sentence from my Company Operations Manual perhaps gives you a tiny taste.

While the EFB cannot mimic the ability of paper charts and books to serve as tinder in a remote survival situation, its battery can instead provide ignition for locally sourced kindling.

The section on RNAV operations also contains the phrase "pilots shall not blindly follow the magic pink line" which I put in as a placeholder while writing the manual, but I got busy flying and someone else finished it up, apparently not being able to tell the difference between me putting down random thoughts while thinking of what to write, and me actually writing. Not that surprising, really.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Callout Fee

The following is an e-mail I sent to accounting, with only the obvious redactions:
At Mustelid Falls the last couple of weeks we have been buying fuel at a place that officially closes at 6 p.m. but we kept getting the fueller to stay late or come back and fuel us later.  There was no formal callout  procedure, so she didn’t have a way to add a fee to the fuel bill, so I gave her some cash, the cheapest callout fee ever, really, less than $10 a day but it made the difference between treating someone badly and having them feel respected.
This is only about the third sketchiest receipt I’ve ever submitted at Our Company, and it probably allowed us to bill several more hours to Customer Company than we would otherwise, so well worth it.

You’ll see the expense form on your desk.
Said expense form was accompanied by a receipt handwritten by me with a sharpie, on the back of a company form, and signed by the long-suffering fueller, on top of the pumps. She was a maintenance apprentice who hadn't known that her job was going to involve fuelling airplanes.  When I found out that she wasn't getting paid any extra for it, I peeled off some twenties. This was all in the before-times, pre-COVID-19. I found the e-mail while looking for something else, and decided to share it with you.

The sketchiest ever was either a fuel receipt for over $800 cash, written on a Super-8 scratchpad by the third-in-command of the local flying club, or any of a number totally formal government liquor store receipts for cases of beer that the accountant has to take my word for that I've exchanged for goods or services.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Small Town Cab

I found this partly-written post from 2015.

I'm in a small town not too far from a big city, at a hotel early in the morning, and need to get back to the airport for another day of making lines in the sky. The cab is on time, but it turns out that it's the driver's first day, and I'm her first ever customer.  I had to give her instructions on how to close the door. It's one of those new ones where you can't slam it, you have to kind of indicate that you want the door to close, and then wait patiently for it to close itself. Not a Type A person's door. It took me a while.

There's an odd sound from the motor. I ask if the vehicle is an electric hybrid. "I dunno," the cab driver admits, "They just told me to pick a car."

I have to give the driver directions to the airport. People in small towns near big cities often aren't aware that they have their own airport. "The airport" means the big city airport.  Sometimes it takes a lot of convincing, especially if English is not the driver's first language. This driver is fluent in English and she is willing to believe there is an airport in this direction. We go there.  I landed here once in an airplane with a GPS that didn't have the airport in the database, and the poor thing went into panic mode, thinking I was crashing instead of landing. It is one of those almost-deserted airports with a waist-high chain link fence, a little gate where you just lift the latch to swing it open, and engineless airplanes sitting in the long grass beside the pavement.

My notes say she charged me double, but not how I dealt with that. I probably just told her she was wrong and let her go through the credit card machine procedure again. While she was searching for the receipt book, I noticed that her fleece vest bears the logo of a transit company in the big city.  I asked about it and said she usually drives a school bus.

And then I suppose I went flying.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Lampposts and Overpasses

Apparently this happened today.

One of the useful things about small planes is that they do land at about the speed of traffic, typically touching down at 75-120 km/h. It is cool that no one saw the airplane and freaked out.  I know someone who was making a similar emergency landing and the driver of the car he was following saw the airplane in the rear view mirror and slammed on the brakes. Fortunately my friend had enough momentum to bobble up and land in front of the car, but better that everyone just keep their chill. I think there's a telescoping effect that makes everything look closer together in this picture.  From the angle we see it, it looks like a Ford Probe could barely merge into that space, but there's no honking or swerving as the Piper slots in.

This may be as much about Québec drivers as this pilot. I suppose every city's drivers look maniacal to every other city's drivers, but this is the only province in Canada with signs advising you to "attendez le feu vert" -- wait for the green light.  Maybe it's to prevent people from making right turns on red, allowed in, I think, all other provinces, but it seems to me that Québec drivers need the reminder that traffic lights aren't optional. If you've been to Toronto and to Paris, you will understand when I tell you that being a pedestrian in Montréal is much more like the Paris than the Toronto experience. In my opinion, the anything-can-happen-next experience of driving in la belle province has prepared these drivers for traffic that casually merges from above and then takes up three lanes.

The thing that freaks me out is the non-motorized obstacles.  Look at all the wires, the signs, the overpass and the lamp standards. If you're in control of your airplane you can put it on a runway point of your choosing, but damn, I like my approach corridors uncluttered.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


It's eerily quiet out there. I was on the ramp at an airport that usually makes the top ten or fifteen list for the most aircraft movements in the country, and during the pre-flight briefing I could hear frogs croaking in a distant ditch.

In the air I'm having the sort of chats with air traffic controllers that usually happen at three a.m. I can ask for direct just about anywhere from anywhere and get it instantly. I've a few times called up and had the controller reply "is that [airplane that's not me] calling for [something irrelevant to me]?"  That seems to mean that there's only one airplane in that controller's airspace, and the controller wasn't expecting it to want anything in the near future, so kind of zoned out. Maybe conducting a conversation with another bored controller, at a desk two metres away.

I asked a military controller whose airspace I was working in if he had other traffic on other frequencies, but he said it was just me.

Even in the sky we're isolated. Many thanks to all the people staying home, and staying away from people and places they'd love to visit, so that when some of us get this disease despite everyone's efforts, the hospitals are not overwhelmed and we have our best chance to recover.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Don't touch your face

Actual excerpt from aircraft journey log maintenance entry:

Stay safe. Wash your hands.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Seeing Resolutely

New Year's resolution: clean my glasses with optician-provided spray and a microfibre cloth instead of licking them and wiping them on my t-shirt. Not sure if I achieved last years' ones or not. I didn't make them measurable enough.