AviationCareer Magazine

What to do when the job market disappears:
Strategy lessons from an expert’s experience

Showman P.T. Barnum once remarked, “When people aren’t coming to the circus, there’s just no stopping them.” Is it possible he anticipated the current job market for pilots, flight attendants, maintenance crews, and airline executives? Maybe he meant, “When the airlines aren’t hiring, there’s just no stopping them.”

The current climate for aviation industry professionals isn’t exactly rosy, and that’s why many are beginning to examine alternative career paths – perhaps reverting to long-forgotten college majors, hobbies, or avocations that have been lurking in the recesses of their minds in case the proverbial “rainy day” ever showed up and required some outside-the-box thinking.

The situation facing those unable to pursue their careers in aviation is parallel to that facing many companies in other industries as they seek to grow their businesses, or to increase penetration in the markets they’re currently serving. They must find new ways to satisfy customer needs, to modify or enhance their current products to recognize a changing environment, or to reposition themselves in the minds of their customers.

Perhaps there are some lessons we can learn from what they’ve discovered about the process of invention – or re-invention – and apply it to our own situations. We are the product, and a prospective employer is our customer. Perhaps we need to revisit the principles of sound marketing strategy, applythose principles to our own situation, and begin to market ourselves effectively in this dramatically changing environment.

For most of us, this is a novel way to view the situation. “Marketing” isn’t something we’ve had to deal with – at least not in a personal way when it comes to our careers. Pilots have generally been interested in flying since the beginning of their adult lives. Most flight attendants and mechanics haven’t had to actively look for work since they finished their early education and training.

And while we’ve been focused on doing our jobs the best way we know how, the job market in the United States has changed. Unlike most in our industry, the average American worker – across industries and functional areas – stays with an employer only about three and a half years. Almost 30 percent of American workers have been with their current employer less than 12 months. Clearly the mobility outside our industry is different that what we’re used to, and we better learn to deal with it -- fast.

Take the job search process itself, for example. The way people used to make career choices and find new jobs has changed. The “rules” aren’t the same any more. And that’s why it’s important that those of us in the aviation industry get a crash course in how to look for a job and how to set the strategy for marketing ourselves to our next employer.

Michael A. Goodman, a veteran management consultant who specializes in marketing strategy and strategic planning, has studied the job search process and applied several lessons from his own background in strategic marketing to help job seekers do a more effective (and less painful) job of finding a career option that’s right for them. He’s captured many of the immediate lessons in a new book, The Potato Chip Difference: How to apply leading edge marketing strategies to landing the job you want (Dialogue Press; $16.95).

He has also developed a list of “10 Stupid Things Job Seekers Do That Guarantee They’ll Be Looking For Work Again Soon.” The list is detailed below and each week we’ll discuss one or more of the “10 Stupid Things …”, explaining why it’s on the list, and suggesting some not-so-stupid alternatives. (For those of you who are impatient and can’t wait, visit the website www.PotatoChipDifference.com to learn more about both the book and a booklet that has a full discussion of all “10 Stupid Things Job Seekers Do …”)

For the rest of you, here are Goodman’s “10 Stupid Things Job Seekers Do That Guarantee They’ll Be Looking For Work Again Soon:”

1. They start the job search process by updating and circulating their resumes
2. They rush to the classified ads and Internet job sites
3. They immediately call everyone they know and begin “networking”
4. They contact search firms to sell themselves as a “perfect candidate”
5. They show up for interviews at the first sign of interest
6. They stress their strengths and experience in hopes that they’ll convince an Interviewer they’re great
7. They rationalize past failures and problems
8. They exaggerate the value of their experience (and their compensation)
9. They fantasize about how terrific the next job will be
10. They rush to accept the first bona fide job offer they get

© 2001-2005, Dialogue Press. All rights reserved.
Last updated: Monday, November 03, 2008