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Resume advice for a career changer

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Jan 21, 2002
First, an apology to those of you who viewed this post on the aviation interview board. The question here is not directly interview related so I'll try my luck here...

I'm in the process of creating my first Aviation resume and not sure what I should do about the Work Experience section as I have no aviation related experience.

I was in an unrelated field for 15 years with 8 employers throughout that time...each new job was a career advancement move.

How much of this does an employer care about? Should I elaborate on the skills and responsibilities in these positions or just list the name of the employer and my title?

It would be nice to state something to the effect of:
1985-1999 Various positions held in the Advertising Industry. No lapse in employment. Excellent references available.

Not sure if that is an acceptable approach.

Advice from other career changers who have had success with their own resume would be great!

I'm not an expert, but here is a tidbit from my experience. A good friend of mine came from the psychology field not too long ago. He clearly stated on his resume what he did and for how long...the usual resume info.

During his interview at a regional they made the comment how much they really appreciated his experience in other fields outside of aviation, making him a much more well-rounded individual. He did end up accepting a position at that regional.

I'm sure that others will have some different advice based on their knowledge of different companies, but I hope this gives at least a glimmer of insight!

Best of luck!

Okay, I'll move my answer.

For an expert opinion, someone like Cheryl Cage would be your source.

As for myself, I put work experience on a separate page, being careful to explain periods of time when I wasn't working (full time training for CFI, college, etc) so that they could easily account for the empty spot.

Page one had all of my times, education, experience flying multiengine planes all over the northeastern US, high altitude chamber training, etc.

Good luck. I just made the jump to Mach speed, myself!
same situation here...

I've been working in the ad agency biz for eight years (too long!) and am also in the process of making a career-change to aviation. Since I'm only at the Instrument stage, it'll be a while before I need to work on a resume...but I'm curious as to what others have to say on the issue.

Same situation as you are/were...I had 3 employers in 6 years, and then started freelancing for the next few years (whereby I had about 4 other employers). Unless one's familiar with the ad biz, this looks like job-hopping (and I guess it is) but that's just the way this bizarre industry is.

I would suspect that keeping it brief would be key: company, title, quick summary of responsibilites, dates of employment. Maybe a couple lines in the cover letter would be an effective means of adding value to the subject? Considering my resume is a little over 1-1/2 pages, I know it's going to be extremely difficult to condense work experience to a matter of a few lines.

I'll be interested in what others that have "been there, done that" have to say...
I'd do the full story resume for the same reasons given by Buschpilot.

I'm hoping to be a career changer as well. For the guys/gals that have successfully made this kind of jump; at what point did you quit your regular day job for that 900$ a month CFI job? Any of you guys do this while having a family and kids? Of those of you still left standing, how many are still married? What's your secret?


You should tailor your resume for the kind of job for which you are replying.

You should list non-aviation work experience, but keep it brief. You should list the top three or four positions that you feel best reflects upon your skills with a brief one to three line description for each.

You should tailor the description depending on the position you're looking for. For example, if you're applying for a CFI gig, highlight any teaching responsibility you may have had. If you're applying 135 highlight responsibility and diligence. Part 121 carriers might be looking for leadership qualities since F/O's are Captains in training.

The key is to be brief while providing a decent overview of your background. The fine details can be saved for an interview, as no one is going to read long descriptions and 10-item bullet lists on a resume if they don't have to. So just pick the best of what you have to offer, and highlight it.

You definitely want to keep it to one page if at all possible.

What I did with mine was to set it up in standard aviation resume form a la FAPA (one time when Kit was right about something), i.e. your name and contact information at the top, followed by Objective. I always stated "Flight Officer" for airlines and others, and "Flight Instructor" for the instructing jobs. Certificates and ratings. Then, the hour breakdown underneath.

For work experience, I had been (trying to) instructing independently, so I listed myself as an Independent Flight Instructor. I also listed my CAP experience, positions held and awards. I then gave the years I had been working in broadcasting, from and to, and stated my main jobs, almost the same as I have them listed in my profile here. I figured that the recruiters needed to know that I had been employed, but would not want to be bothered with the details. At the bottom, I detailed my training and education, date of birth, etc.

I think that your statement about your ad industry experience as you stated in your post will be just fine. Keep it to the point. I'd leave out the statement about references because they know you have references. Perhaps state that you trained while working full-time. Of course, if you earned any awards or special recognition, e.g. Employee of the Month, put it down. I'd be careful about putting down industry awards, maybe, because that might invite questions about why you want an aviation career after you've been so successful in advertising. Your sincerity may be questioned and you might be thought of as a dilletante.

Keep it to a page. Proof it well and have an experienced secretary or writer proof it.

One thing you absolutely, positively do NOT want to do is deviate from the standard aviation resume format. Keep it as standard as possible. These recruiters spend hours reviewing resumes and don't have much patience for having to dig for information. Attractive but conservative appearance.

Hope these thoughts help. Good luck with your job search.
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I quit the radio station as soon as I got full-time employment at ERAU. I wasn't married then, so family considerations weren't a problem. I took a pay cut to leave, but I wasn't making that much in the first place and 1½ years later was making more, but not much more, than I had ever made in radio. I got married after I left aviation, but I talked about it with my wife and I'm sure she would have been fine with it had we been together back then.
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Seattle quote:
"I'm hoping to be a career changer as well. For the guys/gals that have successfully made this kind of jump; at what point did you quit your regular day job for that 900$ a month CFI job? Any of you guys do this while having a family and kids? Of those of you still left standing, how many are still married? What's your secret?"

I posted my big career change story on another post a few days ago, so I won't bore you with the same story, but to answer your questions directly:

Seattle quoted:
"at what point did you quit your regular day job for that 900$ a month CFI job?"

The point was when I was ready to make the change. Should be different for everyone. I walked away from a 6 figure income (only income for family) and looking back I don't really don't know how it all happend so quick!

Seattle quoted:
"Any of you guys do this while having a family and kids? Of those of you still left standing, how many are still married? What's your secret?"

I have a very understanding wife. She was willing and supportive of either of my choices when faced with a big change. It has all worked out so far, but it has only been since last August.

My change didn't take me to be a proffessional pilot, yet it was one of the possbile changes, so I guess there is some revelance in my change.

Leaving that secure, well paid desk job isn't easy in any capacity, but once you cross that "line in the sand", it all seems much easier.
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