COVID-19, the pandemic that has shaken the world. The aviation world has literally come to a standstill. As of now, many airlines have decided to cut staff, including many pilots.

One of my friends and ex-colleague said when she was thinking about quitting her flying job, what else she could do as she had done nothing else than flying an airplane.

Now if you were to lose your job tomorrow or in the next few weeks, what would your plan B be?

The first instinct will be to look around for other flying jobs on the aircraft that you have been flying, but considering the state of the aviation and the number of pilots that are on the market it is unlikely that you will find a job. Operators will not hire anytime soon, as they would need to recover losses made during the lockdown. IATA published that the recovery of the airline industry to the pre-crises level may take 2-3 years, this depending on consumers trust.

Once you realise that the jobs within the aviation industry will be scarce, you now must consider putting in action your plan B, if you had one....

There are pilots who have had a previous career and then left it to pursue flying: for them, it is easier to go back to what they did before. Looking at other sectors, you need to consider what skills have you attained during your flying career. Or is there another field that you have always been interested in?

Now let us try to list these skills:

  1. During the selections, we go through several assessments and an interview.  We know how to prepare for one and already have some interview practise.
  2. During the type rating, we go through an intense 6 weeks training and assessments: We are quick learners and can handle the stress of a new job.
  3. Every flight we have new crewmembers that we work with; We can work in a team and know how to communicate.
  4. Every flight we deal with different challenges within the time and recourse constraints: We can think on our feet and have good decision-making skills.
  5. Even though every flight is the same we go through a certain process from the beginning till the end of the flight: We know how to follow procedures and are thorough on it.
  6. Before and during the flight we do several things at the same time: We can multitask and organise ourselves
  7. For the short haul pilots amongst us, within 30 minutes we complete our tasks and prepare for the next flight: We can deal with the time pressure and work fast when needed while remaining calm.
  8. Every time we turn up prepared and ready to fly, regardless of whether it is 2 o'clock in the morning or 2 o'clock in the afternoon: We are professionals.

These are just some of the examples of the skills that we have attained. The next step might be looking at which industry you want to work in. Some are attracted to the IT industry. Matching your skillset with a job within the sector that you are interested in will be the next part.

For example, during my university, I used to work as customer services rep so I knew I enjoyed working with clients so I ended up working as a project manager where I had to deal with corporate clients.

You may not want to work and think about expanding your knowledge or learning something new. Some end up following up on further education, which can be costly. An ex-colleague of mine had decided to follow degree programme in the 2 year that she was unemployed. Quite a few institutions are offering free online webinars, courses, and training. One of them being the prestigious Harvard University.

The number of free courses offered can feel overwhelming however it does help when you think about your own interests. Every person has an interest, hidden talent or some skill that they wanted to acquire but were never able to due to lack of time. The one thing that is not advisable is to do nothing and wait for a job to ''appear''. I read somewhere ''do not waste a good crisis'' which in my opinion gives such a positive turn to a crisis!