Monday, January 30, 2023

Hiring Again

I've discovered a fantastic interview question.  "Tell me about a time you had to use all your piloting skill to succeed." The answers show me how a pilot thinks about their own limits, what they consider piloting skills to be, what they understand about their aircraft, weather, or whatever the situation was, and a surprising number of times it results in the pilot telling on themselves about how they violated the regulations, and how they feel about that. They just hop into hangar flying mode and pull out a favourite "there I was" story.

There are two things a pilot can learn from making dumb decisions and getting into trouble. Some of them learn that the regulations are there for a reason, and it's better to follow them. And some of them learn that they didn't die the first time, so it's a viable choice. Their stories tell me about that.

And one I interviewed told a marvellous story, that right up until almost the end was almost the same as this joke. (The joke is older than the Internet, but I took this retelling from here).

A bush-pilot drops Bob and Ted, two moose hunters, at a remote lake in Northern Ontario. He tells them that he’ll be back in a week, and warns them that his plane won’t be able to take off with more than one moose.

The next week he returns, and sure enough, the hunters have bagged two moose. The pilot tells them there’s no way they can take off with the two moose. Ted says, “I don’t know, the pilot last year took off with two moose.” To which Bob adds, “Yeah, but maybe he wasn’t a total coward!”

Not wanting to be outdone, the pilot loads up everything and they start to move down the lake. The plane is gathering speed, but the pines on the shore are rapidly approaching. Finally, the plane gets airborne, but one wing clips the top of a tree. The plane spins, crashes into the trees, and breaks apart.

Sometime later Ted regains consciousness and begins searching for his buddy. He finds him, and when he wakes him up Bob asks, “Do you have any idea where we are?” Ted replies, “I think about 200 yards further than last year."

The candidate talked about how insistent the customers were, about how out at the lake there is no actual scale to weigh the cargo. You just have to go by look and feel. He talked about the wind, and the conditions and the geography. I was in suspense. Was he really going to tell me how hard it was to pull that Beaver off the water and then get enough speed in ground effect to clear the trees? Was he going to tell me how many Gs he pulled to avoid the hills, and how he recovered from the ensuing stall?

And then he demonstrated a vastly underrated piloting skill, but one that has kept me alive all these years and that I insist on in my pilots. He said no. The hunting bounty would have to come out in multiple loads. A pilot has to be able to do that.

Friday, January 20, 2023

The Most Jawdropping Resume This Week

Apparently the time when I build up the most blogging manifold pressure is when we're interviewing and training. Because here I am again, with a story I can't not share. It's the worst resume format I have ever seen. 

The resume content itself is, I suppose, not that bad. It conforms to a new trend I am seeing where a pilot with no experience cites their flight training as if it were employment. I received a different resume where a pilot who listed "198.6h" of flight experience (you need 200h even hold a commercial aeroplane licence in Canada) laid claim to "three years of flight training experience."  Yup, it took the guy three years to get his licence, so he listed that in the same words as would someone who had spent three years training other people to fly.  I've seen a candidate's own flight training listed on his resume with little point form duties and responsibilities, like checked NOTAMs and calculated weight and balance.

Pilots, your prospective employer understands the flight training syllabus. Tell us where you learned to fly if you like, but one line will do. We've either heard of it and have an opinion, or haven't and either don't care or can google. (I did that for one candidate and the year he said he got his commercial licence was earlier than the year the school listed him on their site as a PPL alumni. It was fishy. I didn't call that guy). So there was some of that, and perhaps half as much actual flight time as I was asking for, and no operational multi-engine experience, but everyone has to start somewhere.

But what was it that led me back to this resume to stare at it in horror again and again? Was it the font? It wasn't Comic Sans. It was a condensed serif font with a lot of ligatures, not the best for clarity of reading, but I've seen worse. Hmm, sudden thought, it might not be a bad idea to use the font the company uses on the readable parts of their own website. It might make them feel like you're one of them. Or perhaps they have a terrible website, or the flight department hates the website that marketing made. I would not have given a second thought to this candidate's suboptimal font choice had it not been for the standout thing.

Ok, the resume wasn't in concrete poetry, with the text shaped into an airplane or something. I've never seen that. And the actual content formatting was pretty standard, with the flight time summary correctly at the top, and headings for qualifications and work experience and so on. It ran to two pages, which is unnecessary for someone who has only held one aviation job, and the two pages were separate documents.  Usually the two documents attached to the e-mail from an applicant are resume plus cover letter, but whatever. And then as I moved the two pages side by side on my screen I saw that they were jpegs. He sent his resume as two jpegs.  But there's more. The jpegs were named not "resume1" and "resume2."  That would be the ordinary level of poor file naming. Put your own name in the file name, and make it the same name you have on your resume. 

I get that you don't use the entire name your parents gave you every day, and that you may go by a nickname or a name that is easier for English-speakers to spell and pronounce than your passport name. I appreciate that if you have an name that is uncommon in Canada, or was when your prospective employer was learning about the world, that is a move you may feel obliged to make for social and business ease. Just put the same form of name on all your documents and on your e-mail so we can match them up.

When you send anyone a file or e-mail, think about the types of files they receive. If you're e-mailing a company that only installs air conditioners, a subject line of Air Conditioner is kind of useless. How about Request AC Quote for 1000 sq ft home.  A great pilot e-mail subject for a job application is Pilot 2000 TT 1000 ME PIC.  Especially if that meets the requirements of the position. If the chief pilot was going to delete your e-mail unread because the subject line was CPL 204TT, do you think making her open the e-mail and look at your resume to see that you are straight out of flight school will make you more appealing? It does not.

Also don't wait to the end of the resume to put your hours, the way I'm putting the weirdest thing about this resume at the end of this rant. Here it is: the names of the files were similar to Screenshot_20221227-12765_Chrome.jpg. The guy typed in his resume details, made it all nice the way he wanted with his favourite font, then took a screenshot of each page and saved them as jpegs. And sent them to me. I think you'd have had to write your resume on a taco to top that.

I did not follow up.

We all have to learn. I believe the first resume I ever handed in was handwritten on purple notepaper while I was on the bus on the way to the interview.  And I got the job. Those were different times. And it was a non-aviation job that involved wearing a funny hat. I wore it with panache.