If you are looking to put together a professionally written Covering Letter in support of your application for a flight crew position for an airline, ensure you are familiar with what to include and how to structure it. This guide has been written by a current commercial pilot who has extensive experience in screening initial applications, such as CV & Cover Letters and running pilot selection processes.
Why is a Cover Letter important?
The importance of ensuring your CV or application is accompanied with a specifically tailored Covering Letter which has been written specifically for the airline to which you are applying can’t be underestimated. A cover letter is your platform to demonstrate that you are well suited to join the company and are familiar with its type of operation and values. Many people choose the easy option of producing a generic ‘one size fits all’ supporting letter which makes no effort to address the airline you are applying for.
To be blunt, why should an airline consider inviting you for an interview if you haven’t shown that you are prepared to spend the extra half hour needed to demonstrate you’ve really researched the airline, its ethos and type of operation when other candidates have? The excuse of ‘I don’t have the time’ is just not acceptable – you are applying to operate a multi-million-pound aircraft with potentially hundreds of people onboard therefore they expect the highest levels of professionalism to be demonstrated right from the initial application stage.
Generic Cover Letters
A generic Cover Letter is very easy to spot. Simply changing the company name and a couple of sentences around when sending a cover letter out to different airlines is not good practice. More than half of the Cover Letter you send should have unique content, whilst the best ones will have much more than this. Think of the differences between easyJet and Virgin Atlantic; each airline has unique challenges, one across a short haul operation, one over long haul with both providing a different type of service. Each airline has different values and is probably looking for slightly different attributes from its flight crew. Your covering letter should address these factors.
Whereas a CV showcases your skills, qualification and history, a Covering Letter should set out your motivation for joining a specific airline and how you are well suited for that company and type of operation. It should be limited to a single page (again a recruiter only has a finite amount of time to review each application) unless you have extenuating circumstances to make it longer.
Ensure it adheres to standard letter format which includes your address, date and name. You should address the letter to a specific person within the company if possible, like the recruitment manager of chief pilot.
What should my Cover Letter include?
- What aircraft type you are applying to operate.
- What operating base you are seeking (or stating you’d be prepared to relocate to any of them).
- Highlight that you meeting all the minimum requirements and emphasising any specific qualifications that might ensure you are looking upon favourably (for example holding an A320 type rating when applying to operate that aircraft).
- Why you want to work for that company. Consider its mission statement, values and ethos. Include a quote from one of these, whether it be a slogan or specific statement. This demonstrates you have extensively researched the airline.
- Include a couple of sentences which demonstrate that you have researched the history of the company such as including its formation date and how it has progressed since then.
- Mention your future aspirations in the company. This might include one day being promoted to the role of Captain or joining the training department. You could also tie this in with acknowledge any orders the airline has on order, and the opportunities associated with this.
- Highlight the type of operation and how this is well suited to your aspirations and attributes. For example, multiple aircraft type fleet with both long and short haul operations or maybe a lost cost carrier with a single aircraft type fleet but operating to many destinations. Both have their own advantages (see the section below).
- Address the skills you possess (particularly non-technical skills), how you acquired these skills (through previous employment etc) and how they are well suited for the type of operation of the airline you are applying for.
When writing the Cover Letter, you might consider some of these points depending on the type of airline you are applying to.
Cover Letter Tips
- Double and triple check your spelling and grammar. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes.
- Make sure the letter flows properly. When you re-read it, if you have to go back and re-read a sentence because it doesn’t read right, then change it so it does flow. Sometimes sentences make sense but they just don’t read right due to the choice of words or construction of the sentence. If you’ve had to re-read it, so will the recruiter.
- If you aren’t fluent in written English and the application is required to be in the English language, use a specialised service such as our Tailored Covering Letter service to ensure you present a fantastic document.
- Use the ‘about‘ or ‘investor relations’ section of the company’s website to find out more about the company’s mission statement, values, vision. Try and incorporate some of these into your letter. For example, if the airline’s website says ‘we are committed to provide the best customer service in the world’, mention that you want to help the airline achieve this and talk about how your previous experience supports your experience in this area. If you haven’t flown before you might talk briefly about a previous customer service role you have been in or what you have done as a pilot to enhance the passenger experience.
- Look specifically at the details of the job description. This can give you some ideas about topics to address. For example, if the airline mentions a very large route network or rapid career development, you can talk about how your non-technical skills would allow you to manage the challenges of this appropriately whilst finding it very rewarding. You could also talk about your career aspirations such as joining the training department.
Want to use our Professional Cover Letter design service? Our team have experience in designing selection processes, screening applications and selecting candidates for airlines. For more information about how we can support your application, visit our Professional Cover Letter Tailoring page.