3 min read

For Pilots Only: March 30, 2024


Connecting the Dots

Right now it's time to play the long game. While everyone else is sleeping and waiting, you’re fighting for your spot at the top.

Let's get one thing straight: a slowdown in hiring is not the same as a complete halt.

Yes, the pace of conditional job offers is decreasing, and United, Delta, and American are still actively hiring to replace retirements. The game has changed, but it's still on. Things are just moving slower.

Remember, American hits its peak retirements in 2025 (approximately 775 pilots) right as United starts a sizable increase in retirements towards the peak in 2028 (approximately 725 pilots).

So, if you're thinking of applying to a Legacy Airline, or mentoring someone who is looking to apply, the last thing you want to do right now is put your application on hold or wait to apply until the pace accelerates again.

I understand the temptation to think otherwise, but I'm here to tell you that doing so will hurt you, your family, and your quality of life.

Here's why:

If you stop updating your application or skip out on job fairs, you will sink lower and lower in that applicant pool. And when your name would have come up later in the year, you might find yourself passed over entirely. It's like showing up to the gym, seeing a line for the squat rack, and deciding to go home and sit on the couch instead. You won’t get those gains if you don't wait in line and put in the work, even when it's inconvenient.

Now, I know many of you are thinking you missed the wave. And, you haven’t. Passenger demand is back to its peak (2.79 million pax in 2019 vs 2.74 million pax in 2024). The passengers want to travel and the airlines are focused on growth to meet that demand. Hiring isn’t stopping, the next wave has just been issued an EDCT while everyone waits for more airframes to show up.

Here’s the hard truth:

Airline applications are just like Tinder. The competitive minimums are dictated by who's in the pool at any given time. So, as people get discouraged and drop out, those who might not have been competitive before suddenly have a shot. It's not about being the best; it's about being in the game when others are throwing in the towel.

Know someone more qualified than you looking to give up? Encourage them to pull their app. That’s one less obstacle between you and a conditional job offer (CJO).

For everyone else, they see what's going on, and they’re gearing up to fight for their slot. Need proof? Just look at what's happening at the ultra-low-cost and corporate carriers.

Pilots who've been happy there for years are suddenly putting in applications at the legacies for the first time. And with that kind of experience under their belts, who is Delta and United going to snatch up first? It's not the pilots who decided to take a break from applying.

So, if you have the chance to upgrade, take it. And if you're weighing a direct-entry captain position against a first officer slot at an ACMI carrier, go for the left seat—but be smart about it. If you've never flown that aircraft type before, starting as a high-time FO might be wise to avoid any training hiccups that could come back to bite you later.

But most importantly, keep that application fresh and in play.

Update it at least once a month, but shoot for every other week if possible. Show those recruiters you're engaged and ready to pounce when the iron is hot. Because if you let it lapse for 60 days or more, most airlines will dump you from the system faster than a bad Tinder match.

And don't underestimate the power of face time.

Showing up at job fairs and demonstrating a genuine interest in a particular airline can make all the difference when your name crosses a recruiter's desk. It's not about empty flattery or gimmicks – it's about truly understanding their values, culture, and what makes them unique. If you can articulate why an airline is the right fit for you and your family, that's going to leave a lasting impression.

Look, I know it's frustrating to watch your buddies move on while you're stuck in a holding pattern. It's tempting to throw a pity party and give up. But for those of you who are ready to buckle down, stay the course, and outmaneuver the competition, Raven is here to help.

Remember, this slowdown is temporary – but the choices you make now will have lasting consequences for your career. So, update those applications. Study up for those upgrades. And don’t get discouraged. Because you know what’s even more discouraging? Working under someone who is currently working under you just because they took the time to apply and keep things going.

You got this. But just in case you don’t, remember, if you need help, Raven will write your resume, fill out your application, and hit apply for you.

 

 

 

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