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Résumés for professional pilots

Yes, you still need one!

A résumé is a detailed summary of your work experience and qualifications, and it is the most important tool for your job search. Your résumé serves several purposes. The résumé represents you, the applicant. It is your image on paper or online. Thus, your résumé should reflect you as a professional, well-organized individual. Remember, when you submit résumés with personal data, your résumé may be discarded.

Some companies grant interviews after reviewing an applicant’s résumé alone.

  1. A few companies do not accept résumés without an application or even in the interview.
  2. Use your résumé as a supplement for those companies that accept résumés but require applications.
  3. Be prepared to submit a résumé during your interview.
  4. Provide a copy of your résumé to anyone you ask for a recommendation.
  5. Use your résumé as your calling card throughout your job search.


Nine general résumé components

Your professional résumé should contain these critical components: heading, objective, certificates and ratings, flight times, work history, formal education, professional training, and availability. Memberships/miscellaneous data, specialized interests, volunteer/community service, and awards are optional. For aviation it must all fit on one page, no exceptions. (See an example résumé on

1. Heading

It is important to list a current address and a permanent address (if your current address is temporary). The permanent address can be the address of a family member or a friend. Listing an alternate email, and phone number, provides a prospective employer with a means to contact you or leave a message if you are flying when they try to reach you.

2. Objective

Your job objective should state the specific position you desire. Show that you know what you want, but keep it short and clear. A one-line statement is sufficient. Some modern résumé formats replace the objective with a summary statement, but for pilots there simply is not room to restate information found elsewhere on your résumé. Additionally, if you are participating in a job fair where several career groups are being recruited, your objective keeps you in the right pile.

3. Certificates and ratings

Companies seek pilots with specific ratings and certificates; therefore, it is important to list all your current ratings and certificates—pilot, instructor, pilot instructor (ground, basic, advanced). List your medical certificate here, too. Also indicate under this heading any written exams you have passed (ATP-CTP, ATP, other), the date(s) you took the exam(s), and your score(s). List your score(s) only if you scored in the ninetieth percentile or higher. If you have the certificate or rating, it is not necessary to list the written exam. Include all certificates and ratings that are required by the company. Do not forget all minimum requirements like a current FAA medical certificate, radio telephone operators permit, and passport.

4. Flight time breakout

Breaking out your flight time is crucial on the pilot résumé. A typical flight time breakout for your résumé should include any stated minimum requirements: total time, pilot-in-command, instructor pilot, second-in-command, turbojet, turboprop, multiengine, single-engine, and instrument (actual and simulated). Multiengine and single-engine should equal total time. Accuracy and consistency are extremely important when completing this section of your résumé. Often, prospective employers verify the numbers you list on your résumé against your logbooks. Use whole numbers and avoid large round numbers (such as 500, 3,000, and similar numbers). Be accurate—do not estimate. Use a calculator or logbook program to verify your calculations. Do not include in your flight time total any time accrued in a simulator. Be sure to include the following in the breakout of your flight time: cross country, night, and instructor (IP). Turbine time is time logged in an aircraft with a turbine engine—jet or turboprop.

5. Work experience

Your work experience is an important section of your résumé and one an employer will review very carefully. This segment will create the most points and usually drives the interview. It is imperative that this section show that you meet the prospective employer’s minimum requirements. It should also reflect your special talents and qualifications.

I strongly recommend that you follow the typical when (date), where (name of employer/address), what (job description) style. It saves space and follows the traditional employment application format. List your employment in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent employer.

  1. Indicate the length of your employment by using “from” and “to,” stating the month and year you were employed.
  2. State the name of the company first, followed by the city and state where the company is located (complete addresses may be necessary on the employment application).
  3. State your job title and description. The job description should be a brief summary of your specific duties. If aviation related, be sure to include aircraft flown, type of transport (FAR Part), and area of operations. Include special skills required by the job and experience you had with special equipment, processes, and techniques (such as CRM, EFIS, FADEC, Cat III, autoland, RSVM, GPS, INS).
  4. If you held a supervisory position, state how many employees you supervised. If you held more than one position while employed at the same company, list the most recent job title you held and highlight that job’s responsibilities. Follow that description by briefly listing the other positions you held and your associated duties.
  5. Do not list reasons for leaving a position or your salary level. You can supply this information in the cover letter, if necessary, but generally, it is best to wait until the prospective employer asks for this information, either on the application or in an interview.
  6. If you have a lengthy employment history, include a summary paragraph to account for all previous periods of employment, using brief titles and descriptions. Limit yourself to three or four lines. Include in this paragraph any position pertinent to the aviation position you now are interested in. Do not include dates and addresses in the summary. You may indicate the name of the company you worked for if you have room. Open this type of paragraph with, “Additional positions include,” “Prior positions,” “Continuous employment," or similar wording.

6. Formal education

Your performance and participation in school tells a prospective employer a lot about you. Always list on your résumé the highest degree you obtained and your four-year degree. Again, use the when (from/to) if you did not complete college or if you are still enrolled, where (location), and what (degree achieved) style. If you have completed a degree program, all you need to show is your graduation date. Indicate the name of the school, your major and minor area of study, and your academic standing or GPA if it was above average (honors, dean’s list, and similar designations). List any special scholastic achievements, extracurricular activities that correlate to your aviation career goal, demonstrated leadership, and other highlights. List any part-time employment that was concurrent with your education; indicate if you paid for any part of your tuition and/or living expenses through employment or scholarships. Include sports, clubs, flying, volunteering—anything that took your time in addition to school. GPAs below 2.5/4.0 can be an issue at some airlines/employers, and these extra activities can help explain a lower GPA.

7. Special training

This section provides an opportunity for you to highlight any professional or technical training or experience you have that would be of benefit to the position you want. This is a good place for civilian pilots to detail the type of training they received, where they received their training, and whether the school was Part 61 or Part 141, and other pertinent information. Other items to include in this section, other than flight training, include CRM, EFIS, check airman qualification, college, military aviation training, and other training. List these events in reverse chronological order in a when, what, where format.

8. Memberships/volunteering/community service (optional)

This replacement section shows your professional and social affiliations that are directly related to flying or support your community. I recommend the when, what, where format for this section, too.

9. Availability

Being flexible and available if offered a job is a requirement of a successful job search. If you are currently employed, indicate that you would give your current employer two weeks’ notification. If you are currently in school or the military, state your expected graduation or separation date. If you are unemployed, indicate your immediate availability.

Kit Darby
Aviation consultant
Kit Darby is a professional pilot mentor with 24,000 flight hours and 35 years experience as an airline/military instructor pilot and captain. He has been in the pilot resume business for since 1983 and has provided interview preparation, application reviews, and resume services to over 200,000 pilots.

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