How am I going to get an aerospace job?
I hear you.
As I type this, I’ve taken several months off, to focus on several entrepreneurial initiatives (including writing this series of posts). That’s several months without any cash coming in. I’ve now got to line up some paying work, to keep my family fed and clothed.
It’s not easy. I hope you’ve taken onboard what I said earlier about self-confidence being your most important skill. Nowhere does it matter more than here. I’ve been out of work several times in my career, sometimes by choice, sometimes not.
View the search for work as an opportunity to invest in yourself. (Which is the most important investment you can ever make, says Warren Buffett.)
Here are a few tips that will make a big difference:
TIP #1: YOUR ABILITY TO NETWORK WITH OTHER PEOPLE IS KEY
I’ve beaten this drum once already, I know.
The majority of job vacancies are never advertised publicly, either online or offline.
They are filled because the person making the hiring decision knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who’s got the right stuff for the job.
Those relationships were initiated months, maybe years ago, before the vacancy was ever identified in the mind of the hirer.
Also remember: Many job vacancies that ARE advertised are fictitious.
The hirer already knows who they want for the job. The decision’s already been made.
Why are they advertising the job, then?
Often it’s for appearances’ sake. The hiring company wants to appear unbiaised and open.
Sometimes it’s a pressure tactic, or a weapon used in a war between competing organisations. “See, we deserve some investment because we’re hiring local people” or “If you don’t hurry up, we’ll give this job to someone else.”
Not fair to the little guy trying to find a job?
No, it’s not fair. But it’s reality.
People with decisions to make, want to minimize the risk of failure. That means, more often than not, deciding in favour of entities (and people) they already KNOW, rather than those they don’t know.
The reason hiring companies interview prospective candidates face-to-face is to enable them to know you as much as possible before making the decision.
Hence your ability to meet and network with people who can hire you, and let them get to know you, well in advance . . . . . is critical.
This has historically favoured extroverts, and people who are socially very adept and outgoing.
However, the internet has now made it quite possible for introverts to publicize themselves just as successfully. (More on that later.)
So make a significant investment of time NOW in networking with people in the industry you are targeting. And do so not just for yourself, but also for your peers. If your friends and colleagues know that you are looking out for them, they will trust you, and look out for opportunities for you too.
Get on LinkedIn, and network. (Though don’t abuse it. Don’t go crazy inviting people you’ve never met to connect with you. Use it as a means to stay in touch with people you’ve already met.
Get on Facebook, Twitter, and any social media tools that are particularly relevant to your geographical location, language and people group.
Start your own blog. Start your own Youtube page. Publish and post your own material. Participate in open-source design projects.
Use these tools selflessly. You want to promote yourself, of course. That’s as it should be. But use these tools to promote and help your friends and colleagues as well. Post stuff that is relevant and useful to people you know, and people you don’t know.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing you just helped so-and-so find that job, or connect with some else you know.
And what goes around, comes around. Opportunities will come your way that will never come your way otherwise.
TIP #2: RECRUITERS ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND
It surprises me still today how many people approach recruiters thinking, “These people owe me something. It’s in their best interest to find me a job in such-and-such a company.”
Recruiters don’t owe you a thing. The reason they give you even a minute of their attention is that they hope to be PAID BY Company Such-and-Such for putting you in touch with them, in the event that Company Such-and-Such likes you enough to hire you.
The real transaction is between the recruiter and the human resources department at the hiring company. You are just the commodity being traded.
Sound crass? Unfortunately it’s accurate. As a knowledge worker in a global village, you are a commodity.
Admittedly, you are a commodity that comes with a body, sould and spirit. A set of intellectual skills, with a set of emotions and physical needs attached.
It’s just the skills they need. The emotions and physical needs are inconveniences that are unfortunate but unavoidable.
If they could find a way of purchasing the skills without the inconveniences, they would, because the inconveniences are costly. People need offices, desks, chairs, toilets, eating facilities, etc, and these things cost the company a lot of money.
(It is outside the scope of this book, but the trend towards buying skills without the inconveniences posed by human workers, is well afoot. It’s called SOFTWARE. Many people have lost their livelihoods to software, and in time, the trend will affect even you as a highly-trained aerospace knowledge worker. No need to panic now, but don’t forget it.)
In the meantime, love ’em or hate ’em, recruiters are a fact of life. They talk nicely to you because, unlike other commodities, if they annoy you, you will walk away and kill the nice little deal they are putting together.
I have been deliberately sarcastic to make a point: Recruiters work to get paid by their customer, the hiring company. Not by you.
So don’t be unduly annoyed when they appear to hoard information from you, or treat you with some disregard. (Though smart ones won’t do that.)
They are human beings too, with expenses to pay, families to feed, emotions, physical needs, etc. They can make mistakes. They have bad days as well as good.
They have to live with the knowledge that you, the commodity being traded, can (without warning) just slink away and ruin all the hard work they’ve done.
Think how you’d feel if, when you’re trying to sell a car, the car just ups and drives away, saying, “Nope, I won’t be sold today.”
In the next post, I’ll share my remaining three tips for finding that elusive first job! (And the one after that, and . . . . )