Effective Networking

By Matthew C. Keegan

The following article was originally written for members of the business aviation community. The truths shared, however, can be applied across many different industries including the cruise line industry.

The process of finding out about a job, getting interviewed, and eventually receiving an offer for employment starts with networking. By networking I don’t mean sending out hundreds of copies of your résumé unsolicited to H.R. managers throughout the country, but by establishing contacts with people who may be in a position to hire you or refer you to someone who is in the position of hiring… you!

Who Are The Major Players?

In my area of expertise, corporate aviation, there are several key players as well as smaller, less known operators. Jet Aviation, TAG Aviation, and Netjets are some of the larger companies and they all have a staff of qualified flight attendants or cabin service representatives on hand. In addition, smaller players including Pacific Jet, Clay Lacy Aviation, and New World Aviation are part of the charter market. Finally, you have a whole host of independent flight departments with one or two or more aircraft. Some of these operators utilize larger cabin aircraft and are in need of flight attendants. You could send out a copy of your résumé to every single company that flies a Falcon, Gulfstream, Bombardier, BBJ, or any of the other larger cabin jets. You may get an interview, but you’ll also spend an excessive amount of time researching names, addresses, paying for postage, paper and more. Instead, the best way to land a job according to Richard Bolles, author of the acclaimed job hunters and career builders guide, “What Color is Your Parachute?” is through networking.

Tracking Your Contacts

Networking involves making plenty of people contact. Some of the best ways of having contact with others is at a convention [in our case, the NBAA Flight Attendant Conference or NBAA general conference]; over the internet via message boards [such as this one]; while flying a trip as a contractor; working for a company in another role [e.g., as a dispatcher, flight manager, etc.]; or through a friend already in the business.

Building Your Contact List

Successful people establish a list of contacts from the smallest lead [e.g., a receptionist or switchboard operator at a charter operator] to doing voluntary work on an association’s newsletter or with a steering committee for the same type of organization. Each person you come into contact with is a potential person who may know of someone in the business or know of a job opening. Conversely, unsuccessful people rely too much on waiting for a phone call, for an answer to an unsolicited letter, or by not going out to meet people face to face. Quite simply it takes a lot of phone calling, pavement pounding, and other forms of action to land the job that you want. Plus, it takes someone with dedication, professionalism, zeal, enthusiasm, confidence, and a caring attitude to help make things work. If you are not confident of your abilities, you will have a much more difficult time landing a job.

Get Your Resume In Order

Before you establish contact with anyone it is extremely important to have a top notch résumé. Make sure that there are no spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, that it is formatted professionally, printed on bond paper and that you include correct contact information such as your name, address, phone numbers, and e-mail address. You can be the most talented person in the world, but your résumé could look awful. Busy employers look at résumés and toss the unprofessional looking ones away [or they file it away for a predetermined amount of time]. You also need: three top notch references [don’t list them on your résumé, but be able to furnish them upon request]. Emergency training is very important to have – agencies such as Jet Professionals insist on it; most of the larger operators require it as well. Additional training including galley services, a wine class, emergency training, can all help you out.

Be Prepared For The Interview

Finally, when you do receive a call — even if unexpected – be prepared to interview on the spot. Most interviewers will screen you on the first call and you will need to sound sharp as well as be focused. Be prepared to give a concise background on who you are and what you can offer the company. Do not focus on your needs, but focus on the company’s needs and how you will benefit them. Do not expect them to be thrilled by your focusing on yourself. This business isn’t about you — it is about the customers and the company. Successful candidates know this and they are the ones who will be hired, trained, paid well, and otherwise be perceived as being an asset and not a possible detriment to the company.

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