Navigating the Skies of Talent: How Headhunters Benefit the Aviation Industry
Like many industries, the aviation sector can sometimes find itself in a holding pattern of traditional recruitment practices. However, with the help of specialist aviation headhunters, many aviation businesses could find their executive recruitment soaring to newfound heights.
With Red Diamond Executive Headhunters landing at the world’s largest aviation show, the Paris Air Show, on 19 June, founder and Managing Director Emma Robinson explains how a good headhunter can help talent acquisition in the aviation industry to really take off.
Why is it important for companies to work with aviation-related headhunters?
Being an aviation-related headhunter is not about finding people who are looking for jobs; it’s about finding people who aren’t looking for jobs because they’re the ones that are the golden goose of the aviation industry.
Who have we got hiding away?
Who have we got that’s not looking for a job?
Who have we got that doesn’t rock the boat?
Why do they still stay in that position?
Why has that person worked for the same company but had ten different jobs?
What makes them special?
Why are they so knowledgeable?
All these sorts of questions are crucial for finding the right talent.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just about quick wins for lots of businesses. And I don’t just mean aviation businesses; I mean businesses in general. It’s often a case of, “I know him, and someone said he was really good, so I’ll hire him”. I’ve been guilty of that as well, and it’s a very easy route to go down.
But that’s an absolute disaster waiting to happen.
What value do aviation headhunters bring to the industry?
The real value that aviation headhunters can bring to the process of sourcing and hiring high-calibre executives in the industry is the time (and therefore money) we can save businesses.
Let’s say you’ve been in your job for 25 years. You’ve been to every air show, and you’re a regular panellist on industry discussions. You read the aviation news every month, and you probably know your stuff.
But is it not detrimental that you’re now going to spend the next three weeks trying to hire somebody that you probably know already? Someone you’re going to persuade to come on board and maybe pay over the odds for?
All because you’re trying to save a few quid in one area or you’re trying to prove a point.
If I were to sit down with an aviation business, I could say to them, “let me show you what these people are doing. Let me show you what the salaries are in this location.” I would also ask them what they were looking to achieve in the next ten years, and then we could work it backwards to understand how they can get there.
Is hiring a headhunter useful for the recruitment process in the aviation industry?
Absolutely! A headhunter offers various advantages when it comes to filling aviation-related jobs.
Let’s say your ideal situation was to land Airbus as a client. In that case, let’s go and get a sales director who is in bed with Airbus right now. Or, even better, let’s go and get someone from Airbus who can get you in. It’s that kind of approach that makes an impact.
So how do you think outside of what you’re doing? If your job is making sure certain parts are produced, surely your job is not doing the recruitment side of things. Of course not.
Unfortunately, you’ve got these big events that the aviation industry puts on, and nobody other than salespeople and the odd MD turn up. So if you want a new operations director, they’re not going to be hobnobbing at the Air Show. They’re going to be in a factory somewhere.
If your headhunter is worth their salt, they can recruit any aviation position. The difficult ones are when they’re operational positions. There’s still a huge number of people, despite what LinkedIn might tell you, that don’t have profiles. They might be hidden away and have pseudo profiles that they’re hiding behind.
It’s those sorts of people that you want to find, and that’s where aviation headhunters can give you an edge.
Can a headhunter find me a highly-skilled professional in any aviation-related role?
Talented aviation headhunters can find anybody. But it’s about choosing the right headhunter who isn’t afraid to take a creative approach. I was chatting with a client recently who was struggling to find people for their factory. I sat down with their ops director and asked him to think of the best person in his team at the factory right now.
Let’s say it’s John. John’s a factory worker. Where does John live? What does John do? What’s his MO? What does his day look like? John gets out of bed, and he has his breakfast with his wife. He comes to work, and then his wife’s got dinner on the table when he comes home. He might go for a pint in the local pub on a Friday.
So I might walk you through where these people hang out. They don’t hang out on LinkedIn, and you’re unlikely to find them in any kind of publication. You’re probably not going to go to a networking event and find them there, either. So where are you going to find them?
Well, we went to Royal Mail, of all places, and did a postcode search of certain demographics. Then we created a mail shot, which cost a thousand pounds. We sent out something like 1,400 leaflets and invited everybody to their factory one morning for bacon sandwiches and coffees. We basically wanted to see people from the local area turn up and have a bacon butty and a chat with us.
It worked; we filled 42 jobs.
We didn’t recruit for that client. What we did was give them a recruitment process and helped them to do it themselves. We charged them a fee for two days’ work, and they saved thousands and thousands of pounds as a result.
So it’s a case of how creative are you willing to be? Who are you partnering with, and how are they going to think outside the box to get you the results that you need? A lot of successful headhunting boils down to hanging out in places that you might not always think of straight away.
Ironically, I’ve done a lot of business with people on aeroplanes…
Make Red Diamond your aviation headhunters of choice
If you require support with talent acquisition in the aviation industry, you need aviation headhunters with in-depth knowledge of the sector. Red Diamond Executive Headhunters is dedicated to identifying, attracting, and recruiting the most talented aviation executives who possess the vision, expertise, and leadership qualities necessary to lead and grow businesses in a rapidly changing and competitive landscape.