by Scott Arnold, DaVinci Inflight Training Institute
Over the years, I have been contacted by numerous corporate flight attendants seeking advice regarding job placement. “I’m finding it difficult to find steady work” or “I just can’t seem to catch my big break despite trying so hard.” Then followed up with these types of questions:
“Am I too old?
Am I too young?
Do they only want young and pretty?
Do they prefer only females?
Do they prefer only males?
Do they only want experienced cabin crew?
Are they willing to give a newbie a chance?”
The short answer to all: Yes!
Business Aviation is a very fluid industry and there are so many variables and “moving parts” it’s impossible to predict or track what the client or operation is seeking. There is no consistent answer as every flight operation is unique. Management styles, aircraft types, schedules, volume of flying, passenger expectations, owner experiences, etc. are all vasty different. If you are seeking a ‘cookie cutter’ industry, you’ve picked the wrong career.
Although you may have the perfect resume, feel confident that you ‘nailed’ the interview … you may still not get the job. You fly a trip that you think went great only to never be called back again. You are so excited to fly your first few trips and then … the phone stops ringing. Understandably, any of these situations will cause frustration and then you’re asking yourself— “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” The truth is: Most likely you did everything you could have done. The reality bites answer is— You just were not the right “fit.”
So, you may be asking yourself; “How then can I ever achieve success?”
First, check your ego at the door. This career can be incredibly rewarding as well as quite humbling. The hard truth is that this career is not for everyone. Many individuals find success and shine brightly. Some struggle. Some falter. Some end up surrendering. Some, unfortunately, will burn any bridge to achieve success. An even harder truth is that there is always someone more talented and more skilled than you waiting in the wings – literally. This industry is saturated in many markets and can be very competitive. The key to your success is to remain determined and not defeated. Stay the course if this is truly what you feel is your destiny. Your big break can happen tomorrow, next month, next year or longer. There are no guarantees. Flight operations do not hire resumes, they hire the “fit.”
This is where our careers as business aviation professionals differ from so many other industries. We self-finance our training in order to begin this career. I prefer to state it as investing in yourself! We are confined in a metal tube hurling through the skies at 45,000ft for hours with our clients. Passengers are conducting confidential business meetings, maintaining their corporate empires or enjoying a holiday with family and/or friends. It can be a casual inflight experience or an intense white glove 6-star service. Your schedule can be on 24/7, one week on/off, two weeks on/off, one month on/off, etc. You may be serving catered cuisine, fast food or cooking fresh onboard. We have no true and solid job description, or expectations for that matter, of what each position will entail. In this career you wear many hats … and aprons.
Your resume is what allows you to knock on doors. Networking and referrals are what opens doors.
The “fit” is what seals the deal. The fit is not tangible. It cannot be taught.
The fit allows you to sustain a long and successful career with your employer or specific clientele. Flight operations are typically seeking trained and experienced professionals with special skill sets (i.e. culinary, service, language, etc.), as well as seeking a long-term commitment. PLUS, they are also seeking; the right type of personality, demeanor, confidence, loyalty, and appearance … aka THE FIT! What each flight operation is seeking is as unpredictable as the weather and usually ever-changing depending on their current needs and/or command structure. You not only have to be the right fit for their clients/owner but also the entire inflight team. When you first meet someone, sometimes you immediately ‘click’ with them – instant connection. You feel that positive energy. Other times, you cannot connect with them no matter how hard you try. That ‘click’ is the Fit. It’s human factors chemistry. Therefore, you either fit in their personality realm, expectations and culture— or you don’t. Hard as this may be to accept, it’s as simple as that. Business Aviation is a passionate industry and making a personal connection is vital despite this being a profession.
As a recruiter, one of the most challenging parts of the job is selecting the fit. For me, I rely solely on my instincts and intuition when making my final selections. After familiarizing myself with the team and operation, I begin narrowing down the contenders. What many applicants tend to forget, or maybe don’t realize, is that for every position posted, there are literally dozens and dozens applicants. The odds are already stacked against you as soon as you submitted your resume.
Before I was hired by the private owner I currently fly for (aka Boss Lady), I had to first work an “ice breaker” flight along with the other flight attendant so she and I could have some face-time. I never had any expectations this was going to be a done deal being aware of “the fit.” Of course, I was confident of my skills and talents as a corporate flight attendant but there still were no guarantees the Boss Lady and I would connect. Having false expectations are what set you up for failure and heartache. Two and a half years later, I am one of the lucky ones still with the Boss Lady traveling the globe as a valued member of our aviation family.
I’m a firm believer that there is a fit out there for everyone. Where are they? How do you find it? No one can tell you. It just has to happen. However, don’t forget that it’s not just up to the client seeing you as the fit. It’s also contingent on the client being the right fit for you! You too, have to choose your fit. The key to longevity and long term success is having a mutual Fit.
Scott is a Partner at DaVinci Inflight Training Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, former Director of Aircare Crews Staffing (Aircare International), past Chair NBAA Flight Attendants Committee, and corporate flight attendant with over 17 years of experience in business aviation.
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