We’d like to take a moment to talk about some touchy feely stuff. It’s the personal stuff that may not translate through your application or resume but is very important to hiring teams. Major airlines seek certain traits in pilots – the intangible qualities that go beyond safely operating the aircraft.
Major airlines want to hire leaders and genuinely good people. Why? Because leaders and good people make excellent brand ambassadors for the company and they can be counted on to do the right thing. Leaders make customers feel like they matter through small and large acts of kindness. These folks create positive experiences while on-the-job with everyone from the gate agent to the “blue angels” who pump the lav. These leaders act with grace under pressure and pull employees together to tackle difficult problems. They are the people you want to be around while you’re away from your loved ones for days.
Your job at a major airline goes beyond the flight deck. How you act on and off the job speaks volumes to your character.
From the customer’s perspective, leaders are pilots who greet passengers as they board and deplane, help push wheelchairs, assist the mom on the jet bridge juggling a screaming child and multiple bags, talk to nervous flyers, take pictures with starry-eyed kids, and more. They chase down the couple who left their iPad in the seatback pocket and do so with a winded smile on their face.
From a coworker’s perspective, leaders are pilots who move bags down the jet bridge without being asked, assist flight attendants with their duties on a quick-turn, greet maintenance teams with a smile or even treat a fellow crew member to a morning cup of coffee. They are the pilots that you look forward to flying with when you get your schedule.
Becoming a leader is a decision, supported by your actions, that then become habits. Not only is it helpful for the image of your current employer, the act of helping others has stress-reducing benefits for you. Over time, your positive behavior will be noticed and you may even be formally recognized for going above and beyond. Wouldn’t that be a great story to tell a hiring team at an interview or job fair? Everybody wins.
Behaving as a leader doesn’t stop after you step off the crew bus after a long trip. Act with dignity and class while off the clock, too. Airlines want to hire people who will increase morale and not publicly embarrass them. You never know who is watching and how they will react. Remember that everything you do in public sends a message about who you are as a person. Be kind and respectful to others, and it will return to you many times over.