Don’t be the Average Aircraft Mechanic
Setting Your Self Apart
In today’s highly competitive job market, aircraft mechanics need to set themselves apart from the crowd. While striving to be better than the next guy is most peoples’ goal, it can at times be challenging. Striving to become better will help you advance in this career.
There are a number of ways to be better than the average aircraft mechanic. Already, you are ahead of the game because chances are, the mechanics you are competing against are not reading this. So step one, pat yourself on the back because you have already realized that you need to set yourself apart to either get hired or get promoted.
Getting hired as a newly minted aircraft mechanic can be a real pain in the butt. It seems like everyone is looking for experienced aircraft mechanics. Of course we cannot blame these companies for doing so, after all, you wouldn’t hire a plumber who never actually practiced his craft outside his schooling would you?
So companies are looking for experienced aircraft mechanics. Ok, we know this, but what they are actually looking for, are problem solvers. The company needs a self-starter go-getter that is a cut above the rest. Because after all, they will be training you anyways because chances are, they do things much different than anyone else. You will need to learn how to do things ”their way”.
So your goal is to convey that you are that self starter they are looking for. So if you do not meet the actual requirements they are seeking on an aircraft, you can however write your resume showing your strong problem solving abilities.
The average aircraft mechanic will write a resume and sit at home and send them out to various job openings.That method works great if you want to be average and not actually get hired. Since of course you are above average, here are a few ideas that you can try to set yourself apart.
Cold calling. I know, everyone hates it. This is precisely why you should do it. Call every aviation related company in your area and ask to talk to the human resources dept (if the company is big enough) or just ask the person who answers the phone. Be polite and professional. If you have already sent your resume to them by either snail mail or email, call the company for a follow up. Ask them if they have had a chance to review you resume. If they haven’t had a chance to review it yet, simply say ”ok no problem I will call back another time”. It has been proven in some scientific study that the person on the other end of the phone can actually tell you are smiling, so start smiling!
Cold calling not only works sometimes for getting interviews, it also helps you break out of your shell a little bit and allows you to explore outside your comfort zone.
Visiting a company is another way to make a good impression. First of all, make sure you look professional. Keep in mind that you do not want to be a burden when just randomly stopping by a company. What I typically say is something like this “Hi my name is John Janiszewski, I am interested in your company and I am wondering if you are currently hiring”. Sometimes jobs arent posted on the interest. Who knows, a mechanic might have just quit and you caught the director of maintenance at a perfect time. Ask for business cards of anyone that you may think is important, such as the DOM. These are great for follow up calls later on. Then I shut up and let them answer me. Remember to smile and be friendly with everyone. At first you may be nervous but over time you will gain confidence which people will pick up on.
True Story. One time I just dropped by this helicopter company which refurbished old UH-1s and sold them to people all over the world. I stopped by and told him I was interested in his company and was wondering if they were hiring. The owner of the company seemed to be happy I was there and invited me on the hangar floor to show me what he was doing. He was quite proud of the various stages of the aircraft. He showed me pictures of Hueys that he sold. He told me he was not hiring but gave me a reference to another job that I might be interested in. Well that company indeed ended up offering me a great job. So the moral of the story is that you never know where you will meet new friends and make new connections.
Try and remember everyone’s name if possible, write them all down. Use those names in interviews saying “oh yeah, John from so and so spoke highly of this company..” Doing a little name dropping is good a good idea. Also, always have a resume. Do not stop by a company if you do not have a resume on hand. This method can be used for any job, not just aircraft mechanic positions. You may feel like you are being a pain by calling these companies or visiting them. That’s a normal and you will have to get over it. Get out of your comfort zone. This shows the company that you are a go getter and your ready to start work.
Becoming Better Than the Rest
Remember that you are competing among others in your A&P class as well as others already outside in the job market. You have to figure out a way to set yourself apart from the rest of the mechanics out there. You have to be willing to do more and go further then everyone else is willing to do. The goal here is to get out of your comfort zone and start making friends. This will build your confidence up. You must truly believe that you are a great asset to the company you are applying for. You have what they are looking for.
This not only helps you get a job, but if you keep it up, it will help you get promoted and land better jobs in the future. You will form a habit of success over time. Now, that’s not to say you won’t make mistakes and screw things up sometimes, but as aircraft mechanics, we always learn from our mistakes, unless of course your average.
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