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Are Resume’s Really All That Important?

Tue, 24th February, 2009 - Posted by Administration

In the last article, I wrote in general terms about the hiring process and covered the high points regarding Resumes, Interviews, Testing, and Offer/Rejections. In this article and future articles, I would like to dive a little deeper into each area and share more specifics.

Let’s rewind the tape for a minute and recall what we said about the resume in our last career development installment.

“The resume should be considered the most important part of the process. You can possess all the witty charm in the world and be the best stick this side of the Mississippi, but if your resume cannot capture the hiring authority’s attention within thirty seconds, your charm and stick wiggling skills are for naught. Therefore, the RESUME is the single most important component of the process.”

important-resumeBefore we begin, let us clarify the purpose of a resume. A resume is what you use to get a job right? WRONG! A resume is a one or two page document which highlights your qualifications, experience, and education. Your resume has one singular purpose. That purpose is to gain a hiring authority’s attention which results in a phone call, email reply, or interview.

If we can all agree that the resume is the single most important component of the hiring process, let us explore the major “Do’s and Do Not’s” when it comes to resume writing in the helicopter industry.

DO – give hiring authorities the file format they prefer. Most HR Departments prefer to receive resumes via email in a Microsoft WORD document. In my recruiting business, as well as many HR Depts., we use software application for resume processing, storage, and retrieval. Most of these applications are designed to chew up text based resumes (WORD.doc) and store them in data chunks which are both storable and searchable Often these applications cannot process resumes which come in PDF or web based formats. Using the WORD format will increase your chances of not only getting into a system, but getting found in a system when your resume matches a search query by the hiring authority.

Special Tip: If you are using the newest version of MS Office – WORD (2007) the default setting will save your Word document in a .docx format. This works if the recipient is using MS Office – WORD (2007). The problem is, not everyone has made the jump from WORD 1997-2003 to WORD 2007. In this case you would be safer to save your file in the older .doc format before sending. If you send the newer .docx format to a company still using the old WORD, they will not be able to read it. On the flip side, hirer’s using the newer version will have no problem reading older version WORD docs.

 DO – Use a one page format (two pages at most) and give the hiring authority the information they are looking for right away. For pilot and mechanic resumes, preference is most often given to specific aircraft and/or mission experience. Therefore a functional resume which has an experience summary near the top is most useful to the person reviewing the resume. The most common components to a pilot or mechanic resume include, Objective, Qualifications, Work Experience, Education, and References. An excellent example of a one page pilot resume can be seen in Figure 1. Two pages are acceptable if applying for a management position. Management position resumes require that you spend more time highlighting past accomplishments as they relate to your ability of being a manager.

DO – Use a small keyword list in your resume. Keywords are becoming much more important in the world of Human Resources and Recruiting in the digital age. Companies get thousands of resumes and typically will store them electronically. Since they are stored electronically, they are searched electronically as well. As stated earlier, we have a system which stores resumes based on a set of several hundred predetermined helicopter industry keywords. This way we can search for a candidate based on his/her, name, flight hours, ratings, education, or specific keywords.

There are two ways to use keywords on a resume. First you can just incorporate all of the keywords throughout the resume. The second, and most obvious, is to just create a short keyword list at the bottom of your resume. A keyword list on a resume should match your experience and might look like this:

Keywords: bell, eurocopter, sikorsky, S76, EC135, B212, firefighting, ems, longline, ATP, college degree, NVG, Army, military. 

sample-resumeDO – Tailor every resume for each position in which you apply. This is perhaps the most important consideration when preparing a resume. Take the time to read the advertised job requirements. If your qualifications and experience match those advertised, take the time to make your resume perfectly match the ad. I have seen both pilots and mechanics apply to positions which required experience on XYZ aircraft, who actually have the experience on XYZ aircraft and not put it in the resume. In certain cases, on a hunch, I have re-contacted such candidates with further inquiries only to find out they had the experience I was looking for. You may not be so lucky!

If your experience does not exactly match the advertised requirements, use what you have and highlight past experience which may be applicable to the position. For example, when hiring a CFII in a sea of similarly qualified CFII’s, I might give preference to a candidate who highlights their past non-helicopter related teaching experience.

Special Tip: Here is an excerpt from an article written by Kim Isaacs from Monster.com. “For Military personnel transitioning to the Civilian world you should Assume no knowledge of the Military on the part of the hiring authority. Demilitarize your job titles, duties, accomplishments, training and awards to appeal to civilian hiring managers. Employers with no exposure to the military don’t understand the terminology and acronyms, so translate these into “civilianese”. Show your resume to several nonmilitary friends and ask them to point out terms they don’t understand.” This advice works very well in the Civilian Helicopter Industry as well.

DO NOT – Use a person as a reference without asking them first. There is nothing like a surprise bad reference.

DO NOT – Insert photos into your resume. First, most electronic recruiting applications may not correctly process the photos and may change the format of the resume itself. Secondly, for some of the less “beautiful” candidates (or hiring authorities), your mug shot may turn off the reviewer for whatever reason. Let them first judge you for the resume itself, then by the phone interview.

DO NOT – Use fancy fonts or colors. First, the reviewer’s word processor version may not support that font. Second, it can be hard on the eyes and downright hard to read; especially for some of us youth challenged individuals. Studies show the easiest font/sizes to read are Time New Roman (12) and Arial (10). Remember, your resume is being judged on CONTENT, not style. What do the Pro’s say?

 Two questions were asked of several hiring authorities from various helicopter operators:
1. If you could give one piece of advice to candidates regarding their resumes, what would it be?
2. What are the top 2 most common mistakes you see on resumes that you review? 

Peter H. Jensen, Corporate Recruiter, Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska, Inc
1. Provide cover letter with a concise objective.
2. Missing dates on employment history and providing reference (references should be available on request but does not need to be noted).

Paula Sommer, HR Recruiting Specialist, REACH Air Medical Services
1. Take pride in your resume, format like it matters……..hap-hazard looking resumes are hard to read and tell me that the pilot isn’t well organized and isn’t computer savvy.
2. Dates of employment not included on the resume and the breakdown of hours is missing Night and IFR hours — those are BIG for me.

Jim Palmer, HR Recruiting Specialist, Air Logistics (a Bristow Company)
1. Keep it to one page and keep it current. Details will be discussed during the interview
2. No phone number listed. Just has address and E-mail, and include explanation about periods of unemployment.

Stuart Buckingham, Director of Operations, Air Evac Lifeteam
1. Keep it to one page and keep it concise regarding qualifications. They should also do some research on the company and direct their resume to that open position in the company. Too many candidates list everything they have done in their past work history, but forget they are applying for one position only and often do not do a satisfactory job of selling themselves for that position.
2. Resume is too long without really addressing the applied position. Too much non-related information about the candidate is included in the resume. The resume is too general and is evident to the reader that this is part of a mass mailing in the hopes of an interview with any company, not necessarily our company.

Finally, if you do not have a great resume already prepared, make it your number one priority. There are several resources available on the web for assistance in building a resume. I have written a downloadable Resume EBook titled, “Your Resume vs. the Helicopter Industry, a Guide to Resume Writing for Helicopter Pilots and Mechanics”, and is available at The Helicopter Store. The guide includes resume templates, keyword lists, interview questions, and personal advice from the hiring authorities of several large helicopter operators. Several excerpts from the ebook were used in the creation of this article.

About the Author:
Lyn Burks is the owner/developer of Justhelicopters.com and Verticalreference.com. Additionally, he is the producer of the Heli-Success Seminar and author of several helicopter career development E-books, as well as a recruiter in the industry. He is an ATP/CFII with nearly 6000 hours helicopter experience.

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Category : Aviation Careers
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