“The Résumé:” How flight attendants can impress a hiring manager in less than six seconds

 

I find that resumes are one of the biggest conundrums for corporate flight attendants. Throughout my career in business aviation, I have received and reviewed literally hundreds of resumes. The reality check is:

85% of them are poorly written and/or completely missing the point of what a resume is to be used for.

The continuing path of your business aviation career is greatly dependent on one single item— your resume. It is as important to your career as a portfolio is to an artist. Very rarely do you get an interview before your resume is assessed and approved. However, the resume is only one part of the equation for landing a full-time or freelance positionYour resume is the prospective employer’s first impression of you, and it’s your strongest promotional tool prior to meeting the client. Presenting a professional resume package is imperative! Arming yourself with a refined resume is worth your time and effort. If you are hesitant to create your own resume yourself, I highly recommend hiring someone. While recruiting a resume specialist, do not hesitate to request examples of their work. I have seen many resumes created by services for corporate flight attendants and some of them are very good. Others are “cookie cutter” where every single one of them looks exactly the same. No originality. This is a vital tool, so do your research, and yes, spend the money! You are investing in yourself and your career.  

According to research; recruiters and hiring managers spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume before they make the initial assessment “fit or no fit” decision on candidates.

With such critical time restraints, your information must be clear, concise and… impactful. Additionally, the previewers eyes typically work in a Z pattern – meaning they scan left-to-right across the top of the resume, and then back down the left-hand side. This is human nature, so take this into account when formatting your resume.

So how do you create a resume that will soar? Let’s begin with these proven basic steps that win interviews:

 

Formatting Your Resume

  • The first step is deciding whether you need a Chronological or a Functional resume.  A Chronological Resume format is the most commonly used and coordinates your present to past career experiences; placing emphasis on experiences that apply directly to the specific position. Career experiences are placed in order from the most recent to least recent.  A Functional Resume format is ideal when you have little or no experience in a particular field, but you believe that you have the skills and talent to do it anyway. Instead of highlighting your career experiences (or lack there of), you portray your skills and abilities in skill categories. It’s more of a conversational resume.

Using a ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Resume Template

  • Most resumes created from a standard template like Microsoft Word are instantly recognizable to recruiters and employers. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with using these templates except that they have seen them dozens of times. Therefore, it doesn’t stand out from the crowd from the other submitted resumes. You’re supposed to be uniquely qualified with attention to detail, style and flair for this position— let your resume display these skills as well…within reason.
  • Success begins with concise clarity and following the basic resume rules— all of your experience, employment history, abilities, and attributes must fit on one page. Be sure to feature the information on your resume in order of importance to the reader; not to you! If your resume is more than one page, you need to ask yourself is page two just “fluff” and/or ‘filler,” or is this information justified?  If filler, you need to edit it down to only one page.  You can present a longer and more detailed printed resume for your interview. You need to capture your skills, experience and talents, but also keep it simplified and easy to read. Again, make it simple but impactful.  This can be a challenging balance.

Fonts

  • Please do NOT go crazy with underlines, italics, or font styles. Keep the font designs simple, elegant and in a standard font size— which is usually 10-12 point size depending on the font that you are using. If you are formatting your resume correctly, then you can use whatever font you desire. However, if you are sending it in an editing formatted file (.docx or .rtf) or embedded into an email (not recommended) then you should always use standard computer fonts such as Arial, Cambria, Garamond, Helvetica, Times New Roman, and Verdana. All PC’s and Mac’s are equipped with these in their font library. Otherwise, if you use a unique font, most likely the recipient does not have this font on their computer, tablet or mobile device, and it will select a default font and your resume is now a converted hot mess. If you are saving and sending your resume as a .pdf (which is the only way you should), then you can use whatever font style you choose as it’s “locked in” into the PDF formatting.

Be Consistent!

Use consistent punctuation and formatting. If you have a period at the end of one sentence, then you should have periods at the end of all of the sentences. If you are using bullet points, use the same size and style throughout the resume. The same goes for dashes, dates, cites, states, etc. It should all be written in the same matching format and/or abbreviation.

Should Your Resume be Written in Past or Present Tense?

The simple rule is that you should use past tense for past jobs and present tense for your current job. However, this doesn’t work in every situation. There might be things that you’ve achieved at your current position that are in the past and not currently ongoing. For these it may be weird to use the present tense. This means that you might have a mix of present and past tense for your current job, and that’s fine. This is one of the few times where inconsistency on a resume is the right choice.

Spell Check

Spell check your document and have at least two people proof read your resume before using it. Having typos or poor grammar in your resume WILL result in it being filed immediately… filed into the trash bin.

The Content and Layout

My following recommendations are breaking tradition from the standard resume formatting and order. I encourage you to do the same. This is a Corporate Aviation Resume, not a Corporate America Resume. Therefore, you need to take creative license and showcase what the hiring managers are seeking. Therefore, a little rearranging is vital to hit the target points right out of the gate. 

Resume Header/Banner

Your full name should be the headline of your resume. Also showcased should be your contact information and location (City and State or Region but not your home address for personal security reasons). Mobile phone number, secondary number (if applicable), and e-mail address.  Also, banner your emergency procedures training (using a fictitious name) “ACME Trained.”

Please note: Corporate Flight Attendants should avoid using the wording “certified” as this is often debatable or a ‘red flag’ for many operators. Business aviation cabin crew are not “certified” by the FAA or any other aviation authorities in the US. A training vendor may state you are certified but this is by their brand, not by the governing agencies. Other countries, may differ. Regardless, avoid using “certified.” We’ll tackle this debate another time.

Summary Of Qualifications

The days of having an Objective such as— “To obtain full time employment …” or “providing contract services for a Fortune 500 corporations…” are long gone and considered “old school.” Don’t waste precious space with long-winded, self-serving promotional paragraphs. It won’t get read. Objective statements and overly ‘salesy’ intros don’t work either because who isn’t trying to land a full-time job or contract work? Isn’t this why you are submitting your resume in the first place? Instead, take a more effective and modern approach and create an “Professional Summary” or “Summary of Qualifications” that lists quantifiable skills and the key information required to even get a shot at the job. Again, avoid this section from being too verbose. Keep it simple so that you entice the reader to actually read it and not skip over it.

Training/Certifications

Cabin safety/emergency procedures training is a mandatory requirement for many flight departments. Therefore, showcase this prominently! Be sure and list the training vendor by name and the month and year you last attended training. Include ALL training and certifications related to being a Corporate Flight Attendant.

Please note: Not all training vendors are accepted or recognized by global flight departments. Listing your training by vendor name may open doors or may keep the doors closed. If you were not trained by a highly recognized vendor, you can take the gamble of not listing it, but most hiring manages will see this as a ‘red flag.’ I know I do.

Example (again using fictitious names):

ACME Emergency Procedures Training (Recurrent) – January 2019

  • Meeting FARs 91, 135, CAR 604/704, EU OPS standards and requirements

AirAid Training – First Aid, CPR & AED Training/Certification – March 2019

Corporate Specific Inflight Service Training (Initial) – November 2017

Culinary Training by Chef Smith – September 2018

Employment History/Career Experience

Featuring no more than ten years of experience is the standard on a resume. If you feel further employment history is pertinent, feel free to include it. List the other jobs in chronological order. What’s generally most important is your title/position. So list in this preferred order: Title/position, name of employer, city/state of employer, dates of employment. Dates can be important to some employers, but they’re generally not as important as what your position was and whom you worked for. Dates of employment actually should be featured last.

Example:

Corporate Flight Attendant

ABC Aviation, LLC –  – FAR 91 Operation – Gulfstream G550 & G650 – Van Nuys, California

June 2018 – present

Aircraft Experience

If you have experience on a variety of business jets— list them! If you don’t, avoid listing only a few types as this may limit your opportunities of being contacted. However, if you are trained and/or experienced on the Gulfstream G550 as an Evacuation Crewmember (EC) – definitely feature this. This is the ONLY standard business jet that is required by the FAA for specific training when carrying 10 or more passengers; regardless of the type of operation. If you are G550 EC Trained, feature it in the training section as this will open doors.  Another excellent marketing tool is if you have been Gulfstream Cabin Management Systems trained (GCMS). This is a section you should be constantly updating as you gain experience on types of business jets.

Languages

If you speak other languages fluently or only conversational— list them! Having specific language skills can and will “open doors” with operations that may normally pass you by. Especially in the US, as the majority of corporate flight attendants only speak English. I’ve seen many new to the industry land their first jobs simply because of language skills.

Memberships/Achievements/Documents

You can feature your business aviation memberships such as— National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)Women in Corporate Aviation (WCA), nationality/citizenship, passport information, travel visas, and any other related items to your career. This underused section is actually a very good sales tool showcasing your affiliations and documents. If you have valid travel visas, showcase them here, or to be more impactful, featured them along with your Training/Certifications or on a side column (depending on your design). Many people with valid visas will get called first in order for the company to avoid from having to ASAP process a visa for another contender.

Education

This section should include a summary of your education— college, trade school and technical trainings are featured here. You will want to list the name and location of the institutions, as well as your course of study and any degrees, diplomas or certificates attained. That being said, this section is also optional for a corporate flight attendant resume because this is a trade career and your education most likely has nothing to do with it. However, if you feel it’s pertinent; include it.

Personal

This section is optional on your resume. If your work background is a bit thin you can use this portion as “filler.” Does the recipient really care what your age, weight and marital status are? No, but guess what? International CV’s— this is standard information showcased. In the US it is often frowned upon. Therefore, in the US— avoid this one.

Professional References

Always make sure you have at least three good references available upon request (but do not feature them in your resume). If requested, enclose references with your resume as a separate attachment. There is no need to feature “References Upon Request” on your resume because all professionals should have references. Please avoid using spouses or relatives as professional references because… well, duh.

The Photo

This is always a HUGE debate within our industry. So let me be crystal clear— if you choose to include a photograph, it is VERY important to use a conservative photo. You wouldn’t believe the photos that I have received over the years. Bikini’s, low cut blouses, sunglasses on head, poor boyfriend cut out of the photo, so all you see is his arm around her neck, standing on a dock next to a dead shark (?), etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on. Once again, a PROFESSIONAL and conservative photo where you are dressed like a corporate flight attendant ready to walk on board to start your job. No exceptions. 

Please note: Using a photo in your resume (cv) is standard practice in other countries. However, in most cases, it’s still taboo in the US due to many companies having Human Resource liability and discrimination rules. If you choose to use a photo, then follow these simple rules and never, ever deviate. Otherwise, your resume will (not may) but will be rejected! 

Smaller Flight Departments/FAR 91 Operators

In my experience they tend to prefer receiving photographs, and at times, will not even contact you unless you submitted a photo. Corporate aviation is all about image and presentation, and therefore, they want to see a picture of your professional image and presentation. Nothing more. I see so many people go on the attack when they see this request. Calm down people. Are there creepy people out there just wanting to see a photo— yes, course. “Never say never,” but the the majority of the requests are very legitimate. If you don’t feel comfortable sending a photo, then don’t. However, you may have just missed a stellar career opportunity… but it’s your choice.

Larger Corporations

The majority of large businesses and national flight departments do not accept resumes with photos. Generally, any company with a Human Resource (HR) department does not allow or prefers no photographs. Large corporations do not accept resumes with photos because they are not allowed to, so they legally cannot accept them.

Follow this rule: If you are unsure as to what the company policy is regarding photos, send your standard resume without your photograph. You can always submit a photo if requested at a later time. My recommendation is to always send a photo as a separate attachment and not embedded into the resume. This allows the recipient to delete the photo, but retain your resume. Otherwise, the entire resume will be deleted, and you just missed another opportunity.

In Summary

In my opinion, the most impactful content format for your resume as a Corporate Flight Attendant is in the following order:

  1. Your Name
  2. Title and Contact Information
  3. Professional Summary
  4. Training and Certifications
  5. Visas (if applicable)
  6. Aircraft Experience (if applicable)
  7. Language (if applicable)
  8. Career Experience
  9. Memberships/Achievements/Documents (if applicable)
  10. Education

And lastly, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK! Yes, I have already mentioned this, but you wouldn’t believe how many resumes I have reviewed with blatantly misspelled words and typos. As soon as I see a typo— I, along with the majority of recruiters and hiring managers, will stop reading and move on to the next candidate. Proofread thoroughly as spell check only catches typos; not incorrectly wording spelled correctly such as: ‘four’ instead of ‘for.’ Once you have proofread it; repeat, and repeat it again after that!

In a future blog, I will continue on the resume theme and discuss modern resume templates and designs, the use of color (no longer taboo) and one of the most underused and an equally important tool— “The Cover Letter.”  Plus, how to properly submit your resume to your target.

 

*This blog post was first published on FlightAttendantLife.com

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