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Safety Publications/Articles

Professionally Speaking

Tips for success

Job seekers, take heed

This column is for younger flight instructors. More experienced instructors might want to read it, however, just so you can pass it along to a youngster.

Recently a young man called me seeking career advice. I responded with my usual suggestion that we meet for lunch. He stood me up. He called later with what I considered a fishy excuse--something along the lines of a dog ate my homework. He said he still wants to meet with me, but I doubt I'll ever hear from him again.

This week, a good friend lamented to me that his youngest son is out of work, down in the dumps, and desperate. Another of my friends just as desperately seeks new employees for his business, so I offered to put them together. The "desperate" young man turned down the job, saying, basically, that it didn't sound like the kind of job he wanted.

Frankly, it is hard for us old folks to help youngsters, mainly because the youngsters don't know or don't believe several things that we old folks know to be absolutely true. As my father used to say, these are true facts, particularly--repeat, particularly--in the field of aviation:

If you are trying to get ahead, it is impossible to have too many friends, and we old folks make good friends. We really do like to help young folks who will work, and we really are good at it. We know what employers want. We know people who will hire you, if only as a favor to us or because we recommend you. After we help you get a job, you're on your own, but if you do well, we will hear about it and we're likely to recommend you for an even better job down the road.

It's easier to get a better job when you have a job. There is no such thing as a dead-end job. Employers really do watch the work of their employees. Corny as it may sound, good work really is rewarded. My youngest child--and the only one who has not (so far) graduated from college--has proved this over and over. Put him in any job, and he will be promoted within a few months, if not sooner. One summer he went to work as a laborer for a circus, for crying out loud, and ended up as the ringmaster. Most recently, he took a job as a deckhand on a ship and within one year rose to become a sonar technician making surprisingly good money. (In both cases, he got the initial job because an old man recommended him as a good worker.) My older son is a computer nerd. One of my old friends got him a job debugging software at an engineering firm when the boy was 14 years old, and he hasn't looked back since. Now a computer hardware/software engineer, he makes more money than I while doing something he loves.

We old folks help young folks who act in a businesslike fashion. That means--first and foremost--that they show up on time, properly dressed, and ready to go to work--every day! They make it a point to thank the people who recommend them, even if they don't get the job. Frankly, it doesn't hurt at all if they say "sir" and "ma'am" frequently.

Finally, the system works best when you make us look good for recommending you.

Feel free to ignore all of this advice--frankly, success is not for everyone.

Ralph Hood, an aviation speaker and writer, has been flying since 1971 and has more than 3,000 hours of flight time. He is a multiengine commercial pilot with an instrument rating. Visit his Web site.

By Ralph Hood

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