How Old School 'Meet and Greet' Integrates With Online Job Hunting
I've been flying helicopters for 18 years. I've trained in two different countries, have licenses from 3, along with FLV's (Foreign License Validations) for two more. I seem to change jobs a lot, especially in the past, when I was following the never-ending quest for flight hours. So, you would think I had a good grasp of how to look for a job, but every so often, I surprise myself.
When I was starting out, 18 years ago, it wouldn't be uncommon to walk into a helicopter operator and inquire about a job. In recent years though, that has changed. EMS Helicopter operators like so many others have consolidated their business from what was once handfuls of regional operators with 5 to 10 helicopters. Now we see only some substantial operators with a helicopter fleet numbering in the hundreds. In today's times, it’s simply not practical to walk in to meet the chief pilot of Air Methods in Denver., Colorado to inquire about a job in one of the 450 aircraft in any of the 48 states they serve.
So, as job hunters, we'd be forgiven for being conditioned to only use the job websites as they are designed, for research, both before and during a job-search and then for applications when the time is right.
A couple of years ago, I was traveling for a job interview, they offered to pay for a flight, but I elected to drive. On the return trip, I realized that I was passing a small operator (10 or so aircraft) that I wanted to work for. I had connected with the Chief Pilot on LinkedIn, researched the company and sent in an application when they were advertising. I knew I was at the low end of their qualification requirements, so I never really expected to hear anything from them.
Well, there was an opportunity to do some old school job hunting. I turned the car around. As I walked up to the receptionist, and before I could say a word, I saw a notice taped to the desk, "No unsolicited interviews." Uh Oh! This is embarrassing, I thought. The receptionist spoke up promptly and said, "What can I do for you, sir?" "I replied nervously. I'd like to see Mr… (the Chief Pilot) "What's it about?" "Well, we've been emailing! silence..." OK then have a seat."
A few minutes later, a guy I recognized as the Chief Pilot (thank you LinkedIn) came over and shook my hand. He invited me to his office, and we discussed helicopters and jobs. He quickly pulled my previously submitted resume from the pile and mentioned something about an interaction he and I had on LinkedIn.
He never once mentioned anything about unsolicited interviews. We chatted for 30 mins, and he appreciated how much I knew about his company. We finished up with a tour of the facility, and he forever changed the way I looked for jobs. I quickly realized the importance of today's database of positions and recognize it gives me a significant advantage of intel on the job market.
Through a combination of Job websites, LinkedIn, and old school "Meet and Greet," I had one of the most enjoyable ad-hoc interviews I could have ever wished.
I still spend a fair amount of time on job websites today even though I'm not looking for a job. I like to know who's flying what kind of aircraft and what requirements they need. I'll consider it job-situational awareness. I'll take a guess and say you do the same. The internet is a fantastic resource. I firmly believe that for many companies, they are tired of the piles of emailed resumes and where possible might appreciate the personal approach.
The internet is here, but the handshake is not dead!
Helicopter Pilot/Captain AW139 at Maryland State Police