You do all of the above, but I'm less than thrilled with e-mail and faxing as a way to apply for a job. Call me old-fashioned, but look at it this way. You want to make the best impression possible. Your materials will arrive fresh and neat if you mail them. Cutting and pasting cover letters and resumes into e-mail does not guarantee the appearance, spacing and tabulation you worked so hard to achieve will be there on arrival. You have no guarantee that the receiver's word processor can open and read them if you e-mail your materials as attachments. Also, you don't know if the e-mail address is good or how often e-mail is read, or if it is summarily deleted. Faxed materials look like, well, faxed materials. You know how a fax looks on the receiving end.
Follow these steps. First, apply at your school. You should have been working on this from the moment you enrolled. Talk to the Chief Flight Instructor. You may not even need a resume to get hired.
Get a list of every flight school and FBO that offers flight training in creation. I found this list, http://www.narrows.com/aviation/fltschools.htm . It has nearly 400 names. I realize that some info may be outdated. Start spamming them with your resume and cover letter. Create a deadline file of the date you sent materials and calendar them for followup in six to eight weeks. Update with a fresh resume and update cover letter as you build even a little time. Hand-carry materials to all facilities within driving distance and beyond. Maybe if you're on a flight take time to go in and talk to people. Talk to people where you live, too. You never know who may know someone who knows someone who knows someone, ad infinitum.
Look through such rags as Trade-A-Plane and Air Jobs Digest for CFI jobs. They are worthless most of the time because the job may already be filled and/or is a come-on for someone who collects resumes for whatever reason. I shouldn't say they're completely worthless because I got my first full-time job from reading an Air Jobs Digest ad. I wouldn't spend the money for subscriptions, but seek them out. It seems that nearly every FBO has either or both floating around. Some pilot magazines advertise as well.
One other idea that worked very well for me was that I would apply to schools that advertise for students in pilot magazines. I figured that they must need instructors. I used this strategy to get jobs at FlightSafety and Mesa PD.
Hope this helps a little. Best of luck with your job search.
I'd say get out there and start hitting the pavement. I've noticed that around here (atlanta) the CFI jobs go to people that have visited the school, hung out at the school, and never let the school forget their name and the fact that they want a job there. It took me 4 months to finally get the job I have. (Nobody was doing any hiring and the 2 jobs that came up in that time went to guys that were there 6 months before me.) Now I have been called by another school. Things are showing improvement.
I had 4 airports that had 3-4 flight schools a peice. Every friday (I think people quit on fridays), I would get my good clothes on and visit two airports and try to talk to as many instructors and especially the chiefs or owners at each school. Just hang around and talk about flying and other stuff -- soft sale yourself. I would call the schools at the other two airports and speak with the chiefs/owners and say, I just wanted to know if anything had changed in the week. This worked pretty well. They knew me by about week 4/5.
Just remember, with determination you will get a job and can make this industry work. Hang in there and good luck!
Around here at least, you could do quite well by just hanging some flyers at the area airports and distributing business cards or brochures to FBO's in the area not offering instruction.
Image goes a long way here. When I went for my ticket, I must have collected 10 or 20 business cards from area FBO's and pulled tabs from flyers all over the place and began calling.
Being freelance like this would let you create your own curriculum to some extent, and printing a few brochures/flyers these days is usually a matter of a few hours with a word processor application and 20 bucks at Kinko's.
I think GA and "flying lessons" in general are terribly undermarketed. When was the last time you saw an ad in the paper or on the radio for private pilot lessons? Why not hang a few flyers at grocery stores and public bulletin boards as well?
Hi guys, to answer the question. I've been chief pilot of a flight school for the last 3.5 years now. Every instructor that I ever hired was a walk in. I just think if they took the initiative to come to the school instead of faxing, it was a little bit more personable. I know that it might not be possible to do that if you are looking out of state, but a face to face meeting with a prospective employer never hurt anybody.
Good luck with the search, kinda tight out there now.
Don't forget about luck and timing. I guess it all depends. I never got a job just by "walking in." I was out of work in early 1993 and was living in a new area. I drove all over creation bringing in and dropping by resumes and got nowhere. I may sound like I'm contradicting my earlier post, but I am not. You indeed have to be in the right place and the right time. The more personal appearances and effort you put in, the better your chances. It's like playing darts. You have to keep taking your best aim. Eventually, you'll hit the bull's eye.
While I'm on the subject, the pain-in-the-a$$ approach to job hunting doesn't work. What I mean by that is some people figure they'll get an inteview if they bug people only because they're sick of you bothering them. No matter how much you bother them, their resolve not to interview will always exceed your persistance (and stubborness). Look for other places to apply if you sense that. Otherwise, you'll just be spinning your wheels and you probably wouldn't want to work there anyway.
I agree with he rest of the posts....dress nicely, keep a great attitude, and visit the schools in person. As for the market being tight, it all seems to depend on the field. At the field I work at, there is no hiring going on. Take a one hour drive to another field, and the offers come your way. When you do interview, just remember to keep your goals in mind too (although you may not want to advertise them to the chief pilot). Not all CFI jobs are created equal. Hmm...now that one hour drive is sounding better all the time....
Emailing a resume works for me. I have one student ready to start, 3 sitting on the fence, and need to find a CFII.
The sad part is the instructor will starve the first month or three. I simply am unable to give a full load to a new instructor on day one. Focusing on quality instruction means slow growth to the business.