Covid will not define your career

23rd June 2021

There is no denying it has been a horrible year, most of us have lost family and friends, some have lost careers and livelihoods and it has taken a massive toll on the economy and people’s mental health. For people in aviation it’s still a little bit difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel – but, as ever, there’s hope. Unlike 2008, people can afford to travel, but the restrictions in place are making it almost impossible. We are all hopeful on some recovery in the latter half of 2021, together with a concerted global effort to eradicate this pandemic everywhere, which will open the borders and travel will begin again.

This blog is written for those of you who are out on the job market now, not by any conscious choice of your own in all probability, but because aviation in general has been forced to take some very drastic decisions if we are to continue to fight for survival. And we do need it to, the world is connected by air, the novelty of online meetings has gone, we are missing the face-to-face conversations that win business and without aircraft we would have to find a new career, and once you have been bitten by this aviation bug, that seems almost unfathomable.

If you have worked in aviation, your main transferrable skill is calm, but focussed firefighting. We are all used to those Friday afternoon calls when everything is collapsing around you, nothing is going to plan, you have an aircraft broken in somewhere really unhelpful and yet, without even breaking a sweat, we are firing solutions around, dispatching recovery plans and, all the time, managing the knock on effect and the customer’s expectations. Throw us into the deep end of running a restaurant and we are unlikely to be ‘flambéing’ like Gordon Ramsay at the first lunch sitting, I am sure we would be doing that whilst rearranging dining tables, booking parties in and handwriting the menus by Friday dinner.

We are resilient, we are a bunch of individuals who can turn our hands to almost anything and do it well. In the past year I have met so many supermarket delivery drivers who were pilots, engineers, cabin crew and airline executives that it has made me a bit sad at times – but what it has overwhelmingly done is remind me that whilst we might be wearing different uniforms for a while, we are still a family and we will all be back in it, with the same moans, groans and worries as soon as we possibly can.

So, find a temporary home doing anything, whether it’s jabbing vaccines into people, running railways or delivering food, nobody is going to care about your career choices in this past year – hirers are going to be looking at your resilience, what you did faced with a set of circumstances none of us would ever have predicted, and how you rose to the challenge. If you are a CEO and you have decided to fit kitchens, if you are a sales manager and you have gone back to pulling pints, if you have not found anywhere to work but have used your time with all of the freely accessibly online training courses out there, just be proud of it, you did not let a global pandemic define you and you did not let it win.

And soon, we’ll be back. Just do not start flambéing at check-in, those nylon hi-viz vests really are not going to survive it.

Dave Edwards, Chairman, Oaklands Global

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