Pilot CV/Resume Advice

How to create a professional pilot CV

How to design it and what to include…

This Pilot CV guide is written by someone who has been part of an airline recruitment team, both in terms of selection process conception and taking part in the selecting and assessing of candidates. The advice on this page is relevant to all levels of applications, whether that be for a Pilot Cadet Program, Low Hour Pilot or an experienced Captain. Some areas might not be applicable for certain applications – for example details on flying experience probably won’t be relevant if you are applying for an airline cadet program. We’ve listed specific tips for each level of application at the end of the document.

Why is a CV important?

The importance of your CV within the application process should not be underestimated. Recruiters will only spend a few seconds glancing at your CV before deciding whether it’s worth looking at in a bit more detail or putting it in the ‘no thanks’ pile. It’s therefore vital that you have a well constructed CV that includes all the essential information required. This may well be the only document they review to consider your application so you must sell yourself and convince the recruiter that you are the right person for the job.

Your CV can say a lot about you as a person. If your CV is poorly constructed with spelling and grammatical errors it could suggest that you don’t have a good attention to detail or your command of English language is poor. If you leave gaps or give generic dates (rather than specific months & years), it might demonstrate you aren’t well organised or have gaps that are unaccounted for which could create security referencing problems.

Essential Information

Keep in mind that if the recruiter can’t find some essential information that they require (for example a 5 year checkable history), most aren’t going to take the time to get in touch with you to find that information out (particularly with low experience levels) – why would they when the next CV in the pile has all the information they need to progress your application to the next stage? That’s why you need to make sure everything is included, without fail. What might be a minor piece of information to you (like your notice/availability period), could be a make or break item for the airline.

Make It Relevant

Consider who you are sending your CV to and try and assess your CV from their perspective. If you are from France and sending your CV to a British or Irish airline, don’t use abbreviations they recruiter won’t understand – write it so it’s understandable for all nationalities. For example, some countries have compulsory military service. State it was compulsory – not every recruiter will know it was.

Explain your education in an understandable format and give it context. Highlight the equivalent level of eduction for the country in which the airline you are applying to are based. For example, if it’s the equivalent of high school or secondary eduction, point this out. Don’t just put down random grades or marks without context. If you scored 7.5 in English language, state what this 7.5 was out of i.e. 7.5/10.

Consider the type of airline you are applying to. If they are a large low cost carrier, they will probably want to see you are focussed on threat and error management and non-technical skills. A legacy carrier might be more focussed on their pilots being customer and operationally minded. This might affect what skills you focus on demonstrating in your document.

How Long Should It Be?

For most applications, and particularly for low hour and inexperienced flight crew your CV should normally consist of a single page. This is the standard industry format. Keep in mind that most recruiters will only get a very short period of time to evaluate your CV and therefore it should be kept clear and concise. If you’ve gone onto a second page, you’ve probably either included too much information or haven’t been very space efficient with your design.

Only extend it past a single page if you have very good reason such as an extensive career history before flying. For example, an experienced Captain might have reason to do this if they have held a number of positions, but then in this case you could probably leave out all your academic history except for the the highest level of qualification you achieved, as you’ve been operating as a pilot for some time. The longer you’ve been operating, the less important you career prior to flying and your academic qualifications are. If however you are an inexperienced pilot, these details are critical as the airline’s need something to differentiate you from all the other low hour applications you receive.

It should definitely never exceed 2 pages. If you’re struggling for space, have a look at our example CV’s to see how you can be space efficient.

Some tips to keep the document to a single page if you your struggling:

  • Reduce the margin sizes. This will allow you to fit more information in on all 4 sides of the document.
  • Pick a space efficient font. Some fonts have bigger spaces between the letters than others. Experiment with some different fonts to see what works for your documents.
  • Reduce the space between lines. Both Microsoft Word and Apple Pages will allow you to reduce the standard space between the line

A Design Overview

The purpose of your CV is to showcase your skills and experience whilst demonstrating that you are a well suited candidate for the role. You need to do this in a well structured, clear and concise way. There’s a fine line between overcrowding / cluttering a CV and including a good amount of information.

Keep it to a single page wherever possible. Keep in mind you can adjust the size of the text to help you achieve this.

Consider including the airline’s colours (for the airline you are applying to) in the document, for example in the heading bars. This shows attention to detail and that you’ve taken the time to personalise your application.

Keep the font and text colours conservative. No unusual/outlandish fonts or colours that are difficult to see.

Make sure that each section is given a heading so the recruiter can quickly see, generally speaking, the context of the section they are reading. Some suggestions as to how to split the sections are included in the content section below.

Most people only make use of the vertical space in an efficient way. There are different ways in which you can ensure the documents horizontal space is utilised in an effective way through columns and reducing the margin sizes.

Personal Details

Your personal details should be at the top of the CV and very easy to quickly locate. Keep in mind if any of these details are invalid, the recruiter might not be able to get hold of you.

  • Full Name – As stated on your passport.
  • Address – Make sure you include the country and province.
  • Mobile and home phone number INCLUDING country code. If an international company wants to get hold of you, don’t expect them to work out what the countries dial code us. Double and triple check that you have put down the right number – people have put down the wrong number (by a single digit) which has resulted in the airline not being able to get hold of the applicant! Get a friend to phone the number you have put down on the CV (with the countries dialling code) to make sure it works.
  • Email Address – As above, double and triple check its accurate.
  • Notice / Availability Period – Be specific, don’t say ‘approximately’.
    Willingness to relocate – State whether this is globally, across the continent or nationally.
    If you are willing to self sponsor a type rating, and you know this is required by the airline, specifically highlight that you are happy to do so.
    Nationality – This is different to a passport as you might hold nationality somewhere but not a passport. If you hold a nationality it would demonstrate eligibility to hold a passport for that country.
  • Passport(s) – List which countries passport(s) you hold.
  • Driving Licence – Full and clean if applicable. Many airlines state in their flight crew’s contracts, that they must hold a full driving licence. You need to make sure you tick all the minimum requirement boxes.
  • Date of Birth – It’s a detail that some people leave out, especially if they are above 30 and applying for their first flying position. Our recommendation is to always include it as it’s a vital piece of information for the recruiter. If you don’t include it, you are essentially saying that you feel you are old enough for your age to negatively affect your application, why else would you leave it out. Different airlines will have different view on age. Some might see it as an asset if you can back it up with commensurable experience. There are age discrimination laws in place within Europe, so it shouldn’t really matter but unfortunately the reality seems to sometimes be different.

Flying Experience & Qualifications

  • The recruiter will want to see you meet the minimum flying qualifications for the role first and foremost. There are people out there who apply for flight crew positions who don’t even hold a licence! It’s therefore important that this section is prioritised towards the top of the document and we would suggest it immediately precedes your person details.
  • What licences you hold (for example frozen ATPL – CPL ME/IR MCC)
  • Which state your licence was issued by
  • Your flight crew licence number
  • Your total flight hours. Your total flight time should NOT include simulator time – list this separately. Simulator time is less important if you are an established F/O or Captain.
  • Flight hours broken up into time on type (if you’ve done more flying than the minimum required for licence issues and particularly if you’ve been rated on multiple aircraft types), multi-engine time and Pilot in Command (PIC) time.
  • What type ratings you hold and if you aren’t currently in employment, when they will expire.
    Any other endorsements or courses like a JOC or tail-dragger course.
  • State you hold a Class One Medical certificate, including any restrictions, which state it was issued by and when it expires.
  • Your English Language Proficiency (ELP) level (e.g ICAO ELP 4).

Eduction and Academic History

  • If you haven’t got a great deal of working experience or have recently graduated from flight training, we’d recommend including this before your employment history. If you are a currently pilot in employment then we’d suggest placing this section after your career history.
  • All events should be listed in reverse chronological order with the months included for all start and finish dates. Do not just put the years.
  • Your flight training should be listed either under this section order under Flying Experience & Qualifications. We would recommend grouping it under Education and Academic history as it’s easier for a recruiter to follow your chronological history – they want to see a consistent 5 year checkable history for security clearance purposes.
  • Your flight training history should detail where you completed your ATPL Theoretical Exams and the fact they were first time passes (leave out if not) and what your average ATPL Theory grade was. Some airline’s require you to have achieved in excess of a 85% average mark.
  • Your flight training history should also include where you completed your hour building, CPL, and Multi Engine Instrument Rating. You can also include which aircraft you have operated. If you were on a a full time integrated course all your flight training can be listed under one time bracket and one flight school.
  • Details of your MCC should include where you completed it, on what type of simulator (B737/A320?), and how many hours it consisted of.
  • Generally speaking, for Low Hour Pilots it’s recommended to include all education from Secondary School (College) / Higher Education onwards. For each academic institution attended, we’d recommend including when, it’s name, where it’s located and the grades / certificates / qualifications achieved. You might also include any supplementary information such as notable achievements (such as captain of the rugby team or achievement awards).
  • If you’ve achieved a GCSE level of eduction and acquired reasonable grades (C and above), it’s probably worth highlighting how many you passed and what the mark was in each subject, particularly Maths, English and Science. Again with A-Levels, University Degrees, Diplomas etc, include the grades in each subject if they are reasonable. If they are poor grades, it might be best of leave them out.
  • Check the minimum requirements for the job you are applying to and ensure that you academic qualification section specifically demonstrates you meet the requirements. For example, if it says you require 5 GCSEs with grades A-C, make sure this is clearly visible.
  • For established pilots, we’d suggest including your highest level of academic achievement, including he details as set out in the two bullet points above.

Work & Employment History

  • Place this section above your education history if you’ve recently graduated from your commercial flight training.
  • Ensure all start and finish dates include months as well as years.
  • State your role and which company you worked for.
  • Where was the role located (City and Country)?
  • What did you role entail? Try and link some of the key skills and attributes required to that of a First Officer (for low hour pilots). Examples include communication, decision making, planning, situational awareness, working under time pressure, prioritising, leadership, team work.
  • If it was a flying job, highlight a bit of information about the type of operation taking into account the type of operation of the airline you are applying for.
  • State if the role was part time and the fact you were working whilst in education if applicable.
  • If you were working to fund your flight training, state it. It shows a high degree of determination and perseverance.

References

With the CV’s we see, most people include references but we think it takes up unnecessary space. At the point of scanning through your CV, a recruiter is not going to contact any references you list, this will only occur if you are successful and you are provisionally given an offer of employment. It’s at his point they will check your references. Save the space for something more relevant.

Hobbies & Interests

Recruiters and particularly fellow flight crew want to see that you’re (hopefully) a well rounded and interesting person. Your hobbies should be used to highlight your interests and hobbies. Examples might include any sports you play, or some sort of club membership or association.

The recruiters can sometimes find something here that they find interesting or perhaps, having something in common and this can be a good way for them to kick off the interview. For example they might say ‘David, I see you like to sail, what sort of boat do you sail?’. Needless to say, you shouldn’t make anything up here as you can quickly become unstuck if one of the recruiters shares a similar interest.

You might also include achievements that aren’t appropriate to be listed under your education or employment history. For example, highlight your participation in the Air Cadets or completing the Duke of Edinburgh award.

From a pilot perspective, they if they are going to spend most of the day locked in a small compartment with one other person, they probably want someone who has a bit of character and outside interests.

Languages

Multilingual skills can be a useful commodity for flight crew. It opens up potential job opportunities across the world which might not otherwise be available. It’s also potentially useful to better engage with passengers if you are flying internationally to some destinations. Include what level of the language you command, for example, native, fluent, advanced, conversational. If it’s very basic, it’s probably not worth listing.

General Advice & Tips

  • Double check the minimum requirements set out by the airline. Make sure every single one of these minimum requirements is addressed in the CV. For example, if it says you require ICAO ELP 5 or above, make sure this is specifically included.
  • Think about the type of operation and the ethos of the airline you are applying to. If possible, tie in some of the skills you have developed in your previous career to that airline’s operation. For example, a low cost airline might be particularly interested in threat and error management skills whilst a legacy carrier might be more interested in your customer service skills and your commercial considerations.
  • If you’ve got large gaps (more than a couple of months) in your CV within the last 5 years, you need to justify it. If a recruiter sees a significant gap which is unaccounted for, it leaves many question marks as to what you were doing, your work ethos and ability to attain a 5 year reference. If you travelled for 6 months, include this in your career or education history. If you were looking for employment, state this in the document. Pre-empt how the recruiter will see your CV and what questions they might have – you can then include answers to these points in your document.
  • As a friend, colleague or family member to double check it for you to highlight any spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Double and triple check all contact information. There have been cases of people putting an incorrect phone number down (by 1 digit) and that resulted in the recruiter not being able to invite the applicant to an assessment. Don’t let that be you!

Should you include a photo or not?

It depends which airline you are applying to. Generally speaking, we wouldn’t suggest excluding it for applications to Western European airlines, but include it for everywhere else like Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the US.

Some Western European airlines aren’t very keen on you including them because there are possible discrimination law implications if the applicant isn’t selected for the role.

Sending the Document

  • Make sure your CV is saved with a sensible and concise name, for example ‘John Todbo Curriculum Vitae’, not something like ‘JB CV 2’. It’s a sign of attention to detail, professionalism and it makes it easier for the recruiter to search for if required.
  • Send or upload your CV in PDF format. The problem with sending it in Microsoft Word or Apples Page’s is that different versions of the software, or different types of computer can view the document in different formatting. For example, the fonts may look different and what you think is a well structured document can be misaligned and messy. PDF standardises the format ensuring it is viewed in the same consistent way regardless of operating system or software.
  • Both the latest versions of Microsoft Word and Apple Pages allows you to save the document in PDF format. Always check the PDF has formatted correctly once it’s been converted and remember so ensure the images and converted in ‘best’ quality.
  • If you’re emailing your CV it should be accompanied with an airline specific Cover Letter, more details of which can be found in our Covering Letter section. We would suggest including the Cover Letter in the body of the email as well as attaching it in a PDF format.
  • Include a sensible subject line in the email such as ‘Blue Air First Officer Application’. This helps to ensure it’s not filtered by the email server as spam and can be quickly directed to the right person or recruitment department.

Want to use our Professional CV design service? Our team have experience in designing selection processes, screening CVs and selecting candidates for airlines. For more information about how we can support your application, visit our Professional CV Tailoring page.