How can you land a job in 2021 with your aircraft manufacturing experience, Julien ?
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
Julien called me in November 2020 : "I really don't know what to do!" he said with a desperate voice. For decades and particularly for the last 10 years, the commercial aircraft, plane and helicopter industry has been “THE MUST BE IN” industry with thousands of job opportunities around the world. Like Julien, many young talents joined the industry, enjoying its dynamism, creativity and benefits... In early 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the aviation product and parts industry and generated a flood of unemployment from engineers and technicians. Driven by the dynamism of the whole aircraft manufacturing sector but also by their passion of flying/spacing vehicles, most of these technical talents including the sales profiles have found themselves remaining in the same environment since their entrance into the workforce, without any expectation of moving to another industry.
Be aware of the type of skills
As the aircraft manufacturing’s job market has crashed with little perspectives in short and mid-term, the engineers and technicians, like Julien, are now involved in non-voluntary career transitions, feeling the need to leave this industry behind them.
The transition must be easier for junior talents or smoother for those who have moved from one industry to another throughout their careers. For senior executives who have a long history in the same industry it is still manageable provided they implement a strict new career plan.
Julien, you have to change your story and package your new profile, to make you into an undeniable asset for your next target industry. Therefore, you have to work on a solid list of your transferable skills. These skills are generally articulated into three categories : the hard skills (taught during academic courses), the soft skills (personal attributes that help to succeed in a job such as leadership, personal finance, problem solving, decision making, communication, planning, etc…) and the technical skills (acquired through training and experience).
While industry experience is still highly overvalued by recruiters, it is crucial for aeronautical profiles to assess and review - in the current job market overwhelmed with job seekers from many industries - their own technical and hard skills. Aeronautical and aerospace engineering is a wide discipline integrating mathematics, physics, materials and computer science. From aircraft structural analysis (ensuring the aircraft is strong enough), structural optimization (making best use of materials), aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics (minimizing drag and increasing fuel economy), to aerospace systems design and analysis (ensuring stability and control). These set of abilities and knowledge can help you, Julien, as a candidate to land a job.
Think out of the box
Traditionally, military & defence as well as the automotive industry are sectors which are first targeted by technical profiles from aircraft product manufacturing.
Demand from governments and national defence is unlikely to be affected in the short term since budgets has been allocated prior to the pandemic. Therefore, Julien, as you have already worked on high value machines, by applying cutting-edge technology can contribute in reducing waste or weight, or develop efficient generators for satellites and spaceflight applications. However, over the long-term, the public deficits generated by the current crisis, may have serious negative impacts on defence & military contractors and projects.
On the automotive side, while there are numerous similar technical domains, Julien, as aeronautical engineer, you can understand and deal with their differences in terms of maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO), service life-cycle management (SLM), production rate, and traceability (to demonstrate compliance to specification to regulators or customers). Although the automotive industry is also badly hit by the current downturn, you may can work on new energy vehicles may find an increasing number of roles, as this segment becomes a priority for Governments and their environmental policies.
Additionally, machinery and equipment, particularly in the food industry would be also suitable for you, Julien. Since you have experience in working with large and valuable pieces of equipment or materials, through aspects of design and logistics. You are able to put those skills to use in ensuring products are handled properly and delivered effectively. Your creativity and risk management skills can also be useful for this industry.
Soft skills are crucial, too
Besides proper identification and alignment of these technical skills, I remind you, Julien, that those who will put in the most effort in researching their new target industry through taking courses (if needed), reading books, watching tutorials, learning new jargon and networking with stakeholder and insiders, will be the first to land a new employment.
Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced production plants to shut down, disrupted supply chain and quarantined workforces in numerous industries. This situation is increasing the competition for employment, even between technical profiles.
Success will come with positive thinking and communication. Then, it is crucial to find supporters and mentors, and listen to motivational tapes. As highlighted the technical skills are indispensable in transitioning careers, but soft skills, such as the ability to “sell oneself”, communicate and develop network are equally necessary.
Julien and your fellow colleagues, technicians and engineers : be sensitive to your own soft skills.
Since 2009 I have met and discussed with numerous job seekers, retrenched employees, global talents and globe trotters, expat spouses and would-be entrepreneurs. I love to share my experiences as well as the advice I provide and the feedback I received, from the increasing international mobility projects in 2010s’ to the “zero relocation” on the domestic job markets due to Covid -19 and the closure of borders, professionals are still considering new roles.