• How to overcome recruiting challenges to fill airline jobs, aviation jobs, and airport jobs

    June 29, 2017 by

     

    The airline and aviation industry is massive. So it’s no surprise recent college grads get confused when trying to understand the different paths to landing aviation jobs, airline jobs, or airport jobs.

    When recent college grads think about airline jobs, they often first think about pilots and flight attendants. That’s not a surprise, as those are the people that travelers see on the front line when traveling by air.

    Airline jobs go beyond pilots and flight attendants

    Becoming a pilot or flight attendant shouldn’t be the only career path college students and recent college grads pursue. And that’s the challenge airline industry employers face as they look to recruit recent college grads to continue to fill the over 700,000 jobs within the U.S airlines industry (according to Airlines For America (AFA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines).

    In addition to the 700,000 current jobs, the U.S. airlines industry supports nearly 10 million jobs total according to the AFA, including jobs in these subsectors:

    • Air cargo services – 505,000
    • Airlines operations – 1.5 million
    • Airport operations – 524,000
    • Aircraft manufacturing – 640,000
    • Aircraft parts and equipment manufacturing – 472,000
    • Research and development – 193,000
    • Travel agents – 126,000
    • Hospitality and tourism – 6.1 million

    Translation: There are jobs to fill, and recruiters are actively trying to attract recent college grads to the many different airline jobs, aviation jobs, and airport jobs.

    Aviation jobs recruiting challenges

    “There have never been more great aviation career opportunities than today,” said Ethan Martin, CEO of Aviation Community Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to empower high school and college students to pursue aviation industry careers through education, connectivity, mentoring and resources for aviation related organizations. “Over 2 million jobs are forecast in the next 20 years. These include all aspects of aviation careers – from flying to maintenance.”

    With opportunities, comes challenges. For example, employers in the commercial airline maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector are struggling to find graduates of technical, two-year, and four-year schools who understand there are opportunities to grow into leadership roles within the MRO sector. But to get to those advanced roles – which bring higher pay – experience is required. The opportunities are there if employers can attract grads to the industry. Attracting them is the challenge.

    “Our industry (MRO) has huge potential for college grads for career growth and succession in many areas but the individual must be willing to enter the field and grow their experiences,” said Lynn Washington, Human Resources Business Partner with Aviation Technical Services, one of the largest third-party aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) providers in North America. “The challenge we are facing is lack of individuals interested in a hands on field. The leads/supervisor/engineering roles are hard to fill as those roles come with experience within the field.”

    Recruiting challenges demand that employers be strategic

    That’s why employers need to be strategic and develop relationships with college students and alumni, said Martin. Today’s college grad and millennial wants more than just a job. They want to make an impact at the job, and they want to make a difference in the work they do. So stress company culture, mission, and values within an organization to attract recent college grads.

    “Many millennials care about the corporate culture and company values,” said Martin. “They do extensive research online and with social media.”

    For example, JetBlue, says Martin, hosts open houses that highlight the many different career paths in the airlines industry in a way that is real and actionable for students. This gives college students an up close and personal look at the varied career paths within an airlines employer. Beyond pilot and flight attendant. The reality is airline industry recruiters are also seeking recent college grads to fill marketing, IT, customer service, sales, management, operations and other roles in the corporate office, and across the country in various roles within an organization.

    Strategies to recruit for airports, aviation and airline jobs

    To recruit recent college grads into airlines jobs, aviation jobs, and airport jobs, employers should focus on these key recruiting strategies, says varied industry insiders:

    Promote competitive pay: Highlight how aviation and airline industry jobs provide competitive wages and include cool perks – like travel benefits. This is especially important to the millennial seeking to travel the world.

    Target your online search: Maximize your online marketing dollars by marketing only to students and grads who have shown a least a minimal interest in travel, or other criteria that the specific role has. (College Recruiter, for example, targets candidates based on both demographic data and interests.)

    Promote the diverse employment opportunities: “There are strong career opportunities for talented students from many backgrounds including for women and students from underserved communities,” says Martin.

    Support recent college grads with a mentor: When recruiting college grads, try to find a current employee from within the organization who can speak highly about airline jobs, aviation jobs, or airport jobs, and the many jobs within the industry. Make this person available for informational interviews, available to speak at recruiting events, and/or ask them to serve as potential mentor to new hires. “Finding a mentor can be very beneficial to selecting the right aviation career,” says Martin.

    Take advantage of opportunities to meet college students on campus: Employers from all areas of aviation operations – pro pilot, flight dispatch, aviation management, maintenance management, aerospace technology and unmanned aerial systems operations, are all actively recruiting on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University, says Wendy S. Beckman, Ed.D., Chair and Professor, Aerospace Department at Middle Tennessee State University. Because of these relationships developed on campus, most Middle Tennessee State grads are landing entry-level jobs with many popular regional carriers said Beckman.

    Provide internship opportunities: Creating partnerships with colleges to fulfill internships – and entry-level, opportunities, is important to recruiting in the airlines industry. This gives employers a chance to speak directly with students and educate students about industry-related jobs. For example, a recruiter could meet with the President of the student marketing club to promote marketing jobs in the airlines industry. Employers can also partner with College Recruiter to promote internships.

    Promote the importance of soft skills: Employers in all industries, airline and aviation industry included, are struggling to find recent grads who have the soft skills employers covet. When recruiting or interviewing, focus on finding recent grads with the right soft skills. Don’t necessarily always focus on the person’s degree (unless specifically required), instead, be open to hiring someone with a liberal arts degree for entry-level jobs and train them once hired. Employers can find students with the right soft skills by recruiting at the right campus, and seeking students and grads with those soft skills. Teaching students about the importance of soft skills throughout their undergraduate education curriculum is a key focus at Middle Tennessee State. “The general education courses universities require their students to take are there for a reason,” says Beckman, who pointed out how these classes help Middle Tennessee State aviation students develop communication (verbal and written) skills, interpersonal skills, and overall professionalism.

    Airline industry insider shares recruiting tips

    Glenn Nevola is Founder or Flight Line Financial a Princeton, New Jersey-based wealth management firm that specializes in asset allocation and risk management for airline industry professionals. Prior to Flight Line Financial, Nevola worked as a pilot for over 30 years as an Airline B737 Captain with one of the biggest carriers in the world (name is confidential). He also has a Bachelor’s degree in aviation management. Nevola, who has worked with numerous airline industry employees throughout his 30-year career in the airline industry, said recruiters and employers in the airlines industry should focus on these recruiting and retention strategies to attract recent college grads to the many different jobs within the airlines industry:

    1. Recruit college grads for internships: Offer internships to expose the graduate to airline operations.
    2. Utilize job fairs: Attend and participate in job fairs to further interest prospective employees.
    3. Industry-leading benefits: To retain employees employers should provide salary and benefits that are similar to other competing airline industry employers.
    4. Profit sharing: Employee retention, whether pilot or not, increases with a motivation to complete the job with efficiency if there is a profit sharing plan.
    5. Focus on benefits: Liberal medical and family leave policies are important for retention.
    6. Provide work-life balance: Work-life balance is also important to today’s college grad, and something airline industry employers need to focus on to recruit and retain new professionals into the industry. Many jobs in the airlines industry are not always 9-to-5 types of jobs (ticketing agents, mechanics, baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, pilots, customer service, security, flight attendants, operations), and employers need to help professionals find work-life balance in a world geared towards the 9-to-5 job. “It is not a 9-5, cubicle type of job,” said Nevola. “For employers, the key is to balance these positives and negatives adequately to be able to recruit and retain qualified applicants for any aspect of airline operations. There should be an incentive to the employee for all they are giving up in time away and various stresses related to the job. One of the more important incentives is a competitive wage with other carries as you will lose that employee over wages/benefits if they have a desire to work in this industry just as much as they will stay if they feel appreciated and justly compensated. Also, having a voice in the operation of the company from their front line perspective is vitally important as that employee now feels empowered to do the right thing when they feel like they are being heard.”

    There are many airline jobs, aviation jobs, and airport jobs. And with these opportunities come many challenges for recruiters and employers. Follow these tips to recruit, and retain the recent college grad – the next generation of airline industry and aviation industry employees.

    Keep informed of recruiting best practices by staying connected with College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube. Hiring soon? Would it make sense to have a brief conversation about your hiring needs? Consider College Recruiter’s advertising solutions, or email [email protected].

     

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