What does it take to get hired as a professional pilot? You spend hundreds of hours honing your skills. You acquire the certificates and qualifications. You prepare by studying aerodynamics, aircraft systems, meteorology, navigation, regulations, physiology, and other technical minutiae. By all means, you thought you were prepared, but you didn’t get the job.
While technical skills are vital at every stage of career advancement, professional pilots know that earning their credentials is just the beginning to proving their value.
Pilots generally regard their skills highly, and rightfully so. Pilots spend so much time training for different scenarios that, at a point in their career, nothing seems to surprise them. Prospective employers only want to hire the best, so pilots must spend considerable time brushing up on their technical skills in preparation for an interview; however, there is a soft skill rarely mentioned in the course of pilot training that can make all the difference in deciding whether you are offered a job: customer service.
Customer service is not just a skill for reservation specialists, ticket agents, and flight attendants. You might not always deal directly with customers, but you do have to engage with staff and lead a crew. When flight crew positions open, hiring managers hear from hundreds of applicants, and every qualified pilot among them is able to fly the airplane. Unless you’re extraordinarily accomplished, it’s everything else that will give you a leg up on the competition. Your interpersonal skills are important and could make all the difference during your interview.
Pilots are representatives of their companies. There are opportunities to make positive impressions with every passenger, crew member, agent, and air traffic controller you interact with. Customer-service skills indicate to hiring managers that you are someone who is able to work as part of a team, communicate effectively, and represent the company, which makes you a more desirable candidate.
Start polishing your customer service skills now. As an instructor, you should
- Respect your students and your flight school coordinator/dispatcher.
- Be punctual and flexible.
- Be confident, but also accept feedback.
- Create solutions while acting as a team player.
- Recognize the efforts of others for their role in safe flight operations.
- Maintain your poise and a positive attitude in demanding situations.
- Anticipate the needs and desires of others.
If you want to be the best, you must exceed mediocrity. Start applying these principles today to reach higher altitudes tomorrow!
About Gleim Aviation
Since 1980, Gleim Aviation’s team of pilots, instructors, writers, designers, and programmers has helped aviators pass millions of FAA knowledge and practical tests using the unique Gleim Knowledge Transfer System. Gleim is an environmentally-friendly company headquartered in Gainesville, FL.