With border closings and stay-at-home orders in place, people aren't flying anymore, and the airline industry is in big trouble. That means that many workers in the airline industry are looking to land other roles.
Even after a massive bailout from the U.S. government, workers aren't truly immune from economic hardship and career setbacks. The legislation has a lot of loopholes, including a stipulation that companies remain free to furlough up to 10 percent of their employees. Those who keep working will receive minimum hours.
If you have experience working in the airline industry, the skills you've picked up over the years are quite valuable to employers. While it may be tempting to wait and see what happens, keep in mind the job market will be overwhelmed with job seekers when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Getting started on your job search now could help propel you into a new role sooner than the competition. Here's how to prepare yourself for the transition.
Transferable skills and training to emphasize on your resume
The bedrock of your career isn't your job title or the company you work for — it's the skills you've picked up over the years. Many of those skills are valuable no matter what direction you take your career.
Skills that translate between jobs and industries are known as transferable skills, and they generally fall into three categories: hard skills, technical skills and soft skills. All categories should be represented in your resume and cover letter in order to make the best impression.
To help clarify, below we've listed some examples of each type of skill for common jobs in the airline industry. We've also included education and certification/training, as that's another way to highlight your skills and experience.
Customer Service Roles
Hard and technical skills: Hard skills such as: Foreign language and computer skills. Technical skills such as: database and query software (e.g., Microsoft Access), point-of-sale (POS) software, and spreadsheet software.
Soft skills: Empathy, communication, customer service, organization, and active listening.
Certifications and training: Certified Customer Service Manager (CCSM), Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCEP), Certified Client Service Specialist (CCSS), Certified Client Service Professional (CCSP), HDI Customer Service Representative (HDI-CSR), Customer Service Manager Certification (CSMC), Certified Service Quality Associate (CSQA)
Education: You'll need a high school diploma (or its equivalent) for entry-level jobs. To advance, a bachelor's degree in business would be helpful.
Hard and technical skills: Hard skills such as:Physical stamina, foreign language, and public safety. Technical skills such as: Microsoft Office Suite.
Soft skills: Customer service, communication, decision-making, conflict resolution, friendly personality, and teamwork.
Certifications and training: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification, First Aid certification, training in aircraft emergency procedures, and cabin crew training program,
Education: High school diploma (or its equivalent)
Hard and technical skills: Hard skills such as: Understanding principles and methods of transportation, knowledge of and ability to describe geography, and public safety. Technical skills such as: Flight simulation software, flight-planning software, daily and aviation log.
Soft skills: Quick reaction time, active listening, social perceptiveness, communication, problem-solving, and quick reaction time.
Certifications and training: Unrestricted FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate; current FAA first-class medical certificate; FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR); a minimum of 1,500 hours of total flight time, 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time and 100 hours of complex flight time within the last 12 months
Education: Some airlines require a bachelor's degree, while others do not. Many pilots choose to major in aviation, aerospace engineering or another subject related to their interests.
These industries are hiring people with your skills
If you were a ticketing agent, information clerk, customer service representative or gate agent, you might be qualified for one of these roles:
- Sales associate (for example, at a grocery store, like Vons)
- Concierge (for example, at a hospital)
- Bank teller (for example, at a financial institution, like Citigroup)
- Driver (for example, at a delivery company, like UPS)
If you were ground staff, including baggage handler, ramp service, custodian or security guard, you might be qualified for one of these roles:
- Security guard (for example, at an essential retail store, like Lowes)
- Delivery driver (for example, for a delivery app, like Postmates)
- Housekeeper (for example, at a local cleaning service)
- Stocker (for example, at a grocery store, like Mariano's)
- Warehouse associate (for example, at an ecommerce company, like Amazon)
If you were a flight attendant, you might be qualified for one of these roles:
- Customer service representative (for example, at an inside sales firm)
- Patient intake specialist (for example, at a hospital)
If you were a mechanic or technician, you might be qualified for one of these roles:
- There are still some jobs available for mechanics and technicians in your sector. Check AviationJobNet the AOPA and other industry job boards to see the latest.
- Mechanic (for example, for FedEx or UPS)
If you were a pilot, copilot, flight engineer, analytics specialist or navigator, you might be qualified for one of these roles:
- There are still jobs available for pilots, engineers and other highly trained flight crew when you look beyond the major airlines. Check AviationJobNet, the AOPA and other industry job boards to see the latest.
How to apply for these roles and what you'll need
If you are applying in-person, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
Many jobs you are pursuing, especially high-level ones, will require an online application. To apply online, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
How to find these jobs in your community
How to create a resume that will capture an employers' attention
Just because COVID-19 is disrupting the workforce doesn't mean you can toss your resume out the window. Your resume is still the best way to quickly encapsulate your career highs, skills, work experience, education and certifications in just a page or two. Plus, as an airline industry professional, most of the jobs you'll apply for will require a resume.
To write a resume that will capture the attention of a hiring manager, pay close attention to the job ad and the requirements outlined in there. These will help you focus on the transferable skills the employer values most.
Cover letters are valuable, too, especially when there's lots of competition. A great cover letter can help you explain why you're transitioning to a new industry and should tell a story about your career that expands on your resume.
Now, let's take a look at an airline industry resume that's ready for a transition job.
Text resume example: A flight attendant applying for a customer service role
Name: Gianna Beagle
Address: New Orleans, LA 70128
Energetic and multilingual Flight Attendant with dynamic customer service skills seeking a customer service role. Poised, personable and dedicated to a team-driven environment. Known for excellent customer relations and welcoming attitude.
- Customer service
- Cleanliness and sanitation
- Ramp service
- Interpersonal communications
- Airline operations
- Safety and compliance
- Preflight briefings
- First aid/CPR
New Orleans, LA
July 2018 to Current
- Clearly explained and demonstrated safety and emergency procedures to over 150 passengers prior to takeoff.
- Served beverages and food items from refreshment cart and provided information about in-flight offerings to passengers.
- Maximized storage space by directing passengers in correct ways of stow luggage in overhead compartments and under seats.
New Orleans, LA
March 2017 to June 2018
- Facilitated boarding process by greeting 100-200 passengers upon arrival to aircraft and providing direction to seats.
- Drove passenger satisfaction by answering questions and providing solutions to issues arising during flights promptly.
- Maintained firm yet positive attitude when dealing with distressed passengers, working to provide information about connecting flights, calm fears and provide secure environment.
New Orleans, LA
July 2016 to February 2017
- Greeted over 50 customers daily and answered product questions with up-to-date knowledge of sales and store promotions.
- Used POS system to process sales, returns, online orders and gift card activations.
- Maintained clean sales floor and straightened and faced merchandise.
Education & Training
Bachelor of Arts: Hospitality, 5/2016
University of Louisiana At Lafayette – Lafayette, LA