After years of rapid expansion and global growth, there aren't many who could have predicted the complete collapse of the aviation industry as a result of a global pandemic. The entire world economy has been impacted by COVID-19; job losses, business closures and market instability are everyday news now. And as a pilot, it's likely that you’re in the firing line for the initial sweep of cost cutting initiatives being seen in airlines all over the world. There’s no denying it – times are tough, and they could get worse before they get better.
But you don't have to sit around waiting on the world to decide your fate for you. You do have options and there are steps you can take now to ensure that you are prepared in case the worst case scenario presents itself...
Be ruthless with your finances
If you're out of work - or suspect you could be soon - this should be the very first thing you do. Be brutally honest, and write down exactly what expenses you have coming out each month. From here, you can then work out exactly how much money you need to earn* to make ends meet. For me, doing this was a big wake up call for how much we spend on non-essentials each month (I'm looking at you, trendy coffee subscription).
*Top tip: There are several online tools to help you easily calculate the salary needed for a certain amount of take-home pay. I like TheSalaryCalculator.co.uk but there are many other options to choose from. Not an ad, by the way.
Have a daily routine
With lockdown still in force, no work to do and no jobs available, it's really easy to live in your pyjamas and become physically attached to your sofa. Splitting your day into blocks of time (I use 2-hour chunks) is a good way to stay productive (and sane), give your day structure, and keep yourself motivated. It doesn't really matter what timeframe you use as long at it prevents you from spending eight hours playing FIFA every day.
Here are some of my suggestions for how to fill your 'time chunks':
- Preparing CV/Covering Letter
- Learning a new skill
- Catching up with old friends/family
- Fun activity of your choice
Get your documents in order
Pilots have loads of documents, licences, and expiry dates to keep track of - essential information to know if you need to apply for a new job. Like a lot of other pilots I know, I'm lazy and tend to rely on my employer to track that information for me. Now is the time to really get on top of this and make it easy to find everything quickly when you need it.
Create a folder on your computer with a scan of your licence(s), most recent medical, passport, the last three pages of your logbook, CV and covering letter. Create a spreadsheet of document expiry dates to keep track of when things need to be renewed.
Create TWO CVs
We don't know how long it will take for aviation jobs to start cropping up again. As such, it's wise to create two separate CVs - one for aviation/pilot jobs and one for 'general' jobs (i.e. non-pilot jobs - gulp). For those of you who haven't applied for a job in a while - an aviation CV focuses on flying hours, type ratings, endorsements, type of flying experience and pilot work history. Obviously, this would be inappropriate for applying for non-piloting jobs, so rustle up a 'standard CV' too. Still point out all those good pilot competencies for this one, but dial back on the technicalities of flying.
Write TWO covering letters
Just like with the CVs, you're going to need two different covering letters. And actually, you'll need a different, customised covering letter for each job you apply for, but it's good to have a template to work from.
Sign up to recruitment sites
At this stage, you need to give yourself the best possible chance of finding and applying for any appropriate flying jobs that come up. Competition will be fierce and you need every advantage you can get. Sign up for pilot recruitment websites to ensure that you are the first to know about jobs when they are posted. Sign up to Pilotbase here.
Stay well, physically and mentally!
This is probably the most important point of all! It's really important that we stay fit and healthy, both physically and mentally. Keep your body and your brain active and try to stay positive through the tough times - things will get better! If you do need help, there are always people available who would be delighted to lend a hand or an ear and offer their support - us included.