View Full Version : Networking in the industry - please help

29th Dec 2010, 16:32
Hi guys,

Wondered if you could help.

I am just over half way on my PPL with 25 hours in the bag and now on Nav. I have also completed most of the ground exams (only flight planning, nav and air tech to do). I have also obtained by FRTOL.

I am traning part time on the modular route and do intend to pursue a career without getting too far ahead of myself.

I have heeded all the advice re motivation, persistence and hard work and making good progress. My question is around networking that this seems to be something I should be doing in the long run up to one day getting an interview.

As an experienced business person 'networking' as such is not new to me however I am not sure how best to go about this in the aviation industry. I have tried writing to the main airlines querying if they can help me eg visting their head office, meeting flight crew or even any volunteer opportunities so I can mix a bit with those already in the game. The response has been in general they cant help me with very standard responses from HR assistants.

I am wondering if anyone can point out the obvious to me? How they got themselves known? Who they wrote to/contacted?, which events they attended or how they went about networking? Which contacts to pursue?

I am keen to learn and more than prepared to go out of my way to not just get the licences but also get to know the industry more I one day want to join.

Has anyone got any wisdom on how to build up useful contacts in the industry and get out there?

Any suggestions/advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated, particually those who pursued a modular route like me and were successful in eventually getting a job.

Many thanks,

29th Dec 2010, 18:36
Get your PPL out of the way.

When you've done that you'll be on to your hour building, and flying to all sorts of airports/airfields. I've met many airline pilots when flying into places like Kemble and Shobdon when I'm on my bacon butty run.

I don't think you need to knock on the doors and hassle people when they are at work. Who are you expecting to meet? Instructors? Business owners? BizJet pilots? or retired pilots who can tell you a few tales?

You have plenty of time yet.

29th Dec 2010, 19:06
Networking is vital in this industry! It basically means getting your face known and liked and building up a network of contacts who can give you leads and openings and hopefully a recommendation.

How do you do that? Yes do wonder in, do offer to help, get to know key people who can smoothen your path ahead but above all be keen, peristant without being annoying and very determined.

Make as few enemies as possible as we are a small knit community and one enemy can do a lot of damage.
I have only two enemies and the one and I were pushed together so you will be surprised at how enemies are needed friends at some point ahead.

Also remember that this industry is full of protectionism and back stabbing so grow a thick skin, ignore, smile and carry on in a determined way until you hit Gold.

Remember most of the Captains and people you speak to have been there themselves and are happy to help if they can as long as they like your face.
If your female sexy and gorgeous? Well we wont go there as I know plenty of stories to tell :E


29th Dec 2010, 23:14
The harsh facts are that those that are finding employment with the likes of the airlines are those who are being churned out by integrated flying training organisations with direct links to recruiting departments. The reality is of course that the fortunate few are having to pay 85k for a frozen atpl course, followed by a further 30k for a type rating and line training. Harsh but true. Modular trained people are now finding it harder and harder to find paid employment....yes there are a few exceptions of course.

29th Dec 2010, 23:57
To be honest, unless you have something to sell that somebody else wants to buy, you are not going to elicit much interest from anybody. The danger is that you are "cold calling" people, with nothing to sell that they might even be remotely interested in, and to that extent, you run the risk of being a nuisance.

Networking is really just a buzzword for knowing people who might be able to assist. As you progress you will find that to a greater or lesser extent that comes naturally. You will inevitably meet people (or even interact here and elsewhere) with people who can offer advice, opinion or guidance on the many things that will arise in your pusuit.

In my experience, flying schools / clubs are often hotbeds of aviator traffic, and it is normally here that the first contacts are formed. Once qualified, a friend or aquaintance can be useful for getting your CV noticed, or for an additional reference. Having said that, those people are reluctant to risk their own reputations by recommending people who are not very well known to them. Of course such contacts may help, but they are in no way essential in securing employment that wouldn't otherwise be forthcoming.

Large companies (such as British airways) periodically have staff open days, and if you have a friend or family member connected to the company, you may well secure an invite to take part in things not normally available to the general public.

As I say, a lot of this will simply happen naturally, by evolving in the training environment, being amiable and patient, and keeping your eyes and ears open for opportunities, whilst concentrating on the primary goal of becoming a mature competent and safe pilot.

30th Dec 2010, 22:38
I started my flying training in August and do feel that just by 'knocking about' before and after lessons has enabled me to start bumping into relevant people. Far from or even wanting to be their best friends I do feel I am starting to spot people I need to say hello to. Its amazing how much I have learned just by being in the same room as two pilots having a conversation near me.

I know the market for newly trained pilots is low at the moment and what jobs there are do seem to be leaned more to the contacts made via an integrated school but when the market picks up, which it will, more doors will open and I am just hoping given what a small world it is that along the way I have made the right impression on the right people...it certainly wont do any harm but also dont want to be a pest.

Source of my optimism? Well let me assure you my time in business was proof that pre 2008 no one saw the severity of the recession and kept calling it an expected 'slow down'. Well roll on the worst recession for generations, thats how quickly the world can change. I believe the predictions from Boeing that the industry will be short on pilots in the next 5-10 years and will be keeping working hard in the meantime. The whole scenario of no sponsorships and pilots effectivley paying to work for airlines is wholly unsustainable as a business model. Works now but will cause a big problem when growth in the industry returns.

If you want something badly enough......?

Thanks for everyones time and words of advice.

Piltdown Man
30th Dec 2010, 23:08
There is also another problem - it's the people in the office do the hiring whilst pilots do all they can to stay out of the office. So more often than not, any pilot you meet will be next to useless at helping you to find a job. And as you have seen from your responses, the average bod in the office is not much use either! The best people to speak to appear to be taxi drivers, aircraft cleaners, receptionists and those working in the post rooms of target companies.


31st Dec 2010, 23:33
I recommend getting a (non flight deck) job with an airline, Its an awesome way to get to know people and the best way to learn about the industry from the inside out. Ive found it an eye opening experience, learnt a hell of alot and not only that there are alot of people in alot of different positions (not only pilots) who have useful information and have access to things which may be of use to you in the future.

Its amazing what can eventuate from passing conversation.

Good luck!

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