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ayz33

What's wrong with my package?

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Posted (edited)

First off, I know there's only so much one can judge based on what I give here without seeing my whole package. I've been denied from the past 5 fighter board interviews after being accepted to the first one I applied to and nearly getting hired (what I was told). I even visited one of the units ahead of the invite dates, but didn't get invited. Put a lot more work into my cover letter and resume after the four rejections in a short period thinking that was my main weakness for that batch, but still didn't hold up for this latest board. Where's my weakness here? I know it takes over a year usually for guys to get to UPT from hire date so I didn't think my graduation date would be a problem, unless I am mistaken.

Background: Joined the reserves right out of high school in another state. Transferred to the Guard back in home state. Award from a deployment. NCO of the Year for the Wing back home. Got out after over 7 years to accept commitment from the AFROTC scholarship. Just turned 27.

Education: Current 3.7 GPA at a part 141 university flight school. Graduate May 2020.

Enrolled in AFROTC, earned a scholarship, ranked top 15% at field training, good leadership positions within the wing. I have a pilot slot but my goal all along has been to go Guard, having AD as a backup. A newish program allows the cross-commission. Hoping for ENJJPT slot this fall. FC1 scheduled for August. TS in the works.

Scores: 96 PCSM. 99/99/84/81/76

Flying: 207 Hours. Commercial/Multi/Instrument/Complex. No failures along the way

Letters: Former Squadron Commander from my unit who was also deployed with me

Former CMSgt from my unit who deployed with me

Flight instructor from my program who can attest to my flying abilities and my work ethic around flying, former mid-level Boeing Aerospace Engineer.

Played sports all through my youth, now into BJJ.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Edited by ayz33

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A few things pop into my head, keep in mind I haven't been hired yet either but scored some alternates. 

 

  • How old are you?
  • Rushing in the Guard is one of the most important things you can do. It can help offset low scores/bad package or it can distinguish you from the hoard which will also have 90's , high GPA, sports, etc. Therefore a lot of it comes down to when you visited, did they like you? Did you mesh well with a majority of the pilots? Not just 1 or 2. 
  • Timing. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. Did the squadron commanders son/daughter apply this time around? For most of us, this is a marathon. For the lucky few, it is a sprint.

 

So it seems like the trend is, your scores are good enough for you to get interviews. The next thing for you to do is learn from those interviews. Have you been asking for feedback? Have you been iterating your interview setup? At this point, your package is fine. It's your interaction with the squadron/board that determines whether you get hired or not. Keep rushing, keep interviewing. If you stick with it then you will definitely get it. Though, as I keep saying, unless you are a fvcking weirdo, you will get it. 

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The graduation date was always a big issue at my unit. You had to be within a semester to graduating to apply. Mostly because, like you said it takes a year to get hired. They can't start the process at the NGB till you have your bachelors or are within one semester I believe (could be different for reserves). So, you applying with a graduation date a year out, that whole process is going to take way too long for their liking. That would be my guess. Otherwise maybe your age? 27 now, 28 when graduating, 29-30 when possibly starting UPT.  

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6 hours ago, Desk Jobs Suck said:

A few things pop into my head, keep in mind I haven't been hired yet either but scored some alternates. 

 

  • How old are you?
  • Rushing in the Guard is one of the most important things you can do. It can help offset low scores/bad package or it can distinguish you from the hoard which will also have 90's , high GPA, sports, etc. Therefore a lot of it comes down to when you visited, did they like you? Did you mesh well with a majority of the pilots? Not just 1 or 2. 
  • Timing. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. Did the squadron commanders son/daughter apply this time around? For most of us, this is a marathon. For the lucky few, it is a sprint.

 

So it seems like the trend is, your scores are good enough for you to get interviews. The next thing for you to do is learn from those interviews. Have you been asking for feedback? Have you been iterating your interview setup? At this point, your package is fine. It's your interaction with the squadron/board that determines whether you get hired or not. Keep rushing, keep interviewing. If you stick with it then you will definitely get it. Though, as I keep saying, unless you are a fvcking weirdo, you will get it. 

I've only received feedback from the interview, other units have too many applicants to give everyone feedback.

50 minutes ago, elvis said:

The graduation date was always a big issue at my unit. You had to be within a semester to graduating to apply. Mostly because, like you said it takes a year to get hired. They can't start the process at the NGB till you have your bachelors or are within one semester I believe (could be different for reserves). So, you applying with a graduation date a year out, that whole process is going to take way too long for their liking. That would be my guess. Otherwise maybe your age? 27 now, 28 when graduating, 29-30 when possibly starting UPT.  

I believe the process is different in my circumstance since I am in ROTC and don't need to wait for an FC1 or go through OTS. The only "date" I would have to wait for is UPT for which I should be able to get orders while I am still in school, just as I would if i wasn't going Guard. I see it in two possible ways; 1) I come as a near complete package ready to send off to UPT or 2) They don't want to deal with this unconventional process

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I am an active duty officer (non-rated), 28 years old, and have scores similar to yours. I had one fighter interview (no-go), one heavy interview at my dream unit (got it), and three fighter interviews lined up. I applied to a whole lot more than that.

When it comes to checking the basic boxes, you're there. But there are a couple things you may not have thought about. 

1. For fighters, you're oldish. Some units prefer older guys, some prefer young. I've known a 30 year old go to a fighter interview, get told he's an outstanding cantidate (seriously, he was fantastic), then get told they're going with someone else because of his age. I've also known of interviews where everyone is 27 or 28. *shrug*

2. Your retainability is only about 10 years. Some units look at when you can punch your 20 year ticket, and for you that's three years in training and 10 at the unit. Up front, I was told by an F-16 unit they want someone who they can fly with for a long time and my active duty time worked against me in that respect. 

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind I have never sat on a hiring board and have only recently been picked up myself. Everything is from my experience and perspective. Take it for what it is, and good luck. 

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We had a few applicants who had great resumes, but were a year+ out...they didn’t get interviews. Probably would have had they been on a closer timeline.  Yes it takes time to hire and get a guy to UPT, but the sooner we can get the guy sworn into the guard, the faster the paperwork trail flows. Not saying that’s THE reason for you, but it certainly is a big factor. Remember, you’re competing against many qualified candidates who are ready tomorrow.

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You have a solid package, I don't see anything glaring. Since you ask "What's wrong with it?", I'll just nitpick.

AFOQT Quantitative is a tad low... it's in the "OK" range. Wouldn't risk taking the AFOQT again to fix that, though.

Super nitpick: I think folks with Part 141 flight university education have to work a little harder on their package and interview to prove the sort of "well-rounded" aspect that they are looking for. Not to say Part 141 flight universities don't produce well-rounded graduates, but since there is a heavy focus on churning out pilots, they are a little more prone to producing graduates with a narrower breadth of education. You have a great GPA, though, so I don't think you fall into this category.

Since you have a Squadron CC and Chief letter of recommendation from [I assume] the same unit and deployment, they might not be as good as having a distinct letter from another area of your life. In other words, 3 letters of rec from 3 distinct places means you must have done 3 great things. If two of these letters are not as distinct, then you have 3 letters of rec from 2 distinct places, meaning you have done 2 great things.

That's... really it. You have a very near ideal application package.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/3/2019 at 9:10 PM, Fly For a 62E said:

1. For fighters, you're oldish. Some units prefer older guys, some prefer young. I've known a 30 year old go to a fighter interview, get told he's an outstanding cantidate (seriously, he was fantastic), then get told they're going with someone else because of his age. I've also known of interviews where everyone is 27 or 28. *shrug*

Thanks for the feedback. I was wondering how much of an issue the age was. I figured most guard units had guys that weren't exactly fresh out of college (not saying i'm that age.) I know it's not optimal, but I'm certainly trying real hard to get picked up by a Guard unit before I have to pray that big blue puts a couple fighters on the ENJJPT drop sheet to compete for.

15 hours ago, brabus said:

We had a few applicants who had great resumes, but were a year+ out...they didn’t get interviews. Probably would have had they been on a closer timeline.  Yes it takes time to hire and get a guy to UPT, but the sooner we can get the guy sworn into the guard, the faster the paperwork trail flows. Not saying that’s THE reason for you, but it certainly is a big factor. Remember, you’re competing against many qualified candidates who are ready tomorrow.

Thanks for your perspective. I'm still not sure how the UPT orders would work out with the Guard in my scenario since I would have them before i graduate if I was to go AD.

3 hours ago, Catman said:

Super nitpick: I think folks with Part 141 flight university education have to work a little harder on their package and interview to prove the sort of "well-rounded" aspect that they are looking for. Not to say Part 141 flight universities don't produce well-rounded graduates, but since there is a heavy focus on churning out pilots, they are a little more prone to producing graduates with a narrower breadth of education. You have a great GPA, though, so I don't think you fall into this category.

Since you have a Squadron CC and Chief letter of recommendation from [I assume] the same unit and deployment, they might not be as good as having a distinct letter from another area of your life. In other words, 3 letters of rec from 3 distinct places means you must have done 3 great things. If two of these letters are not as distinct, then you have 3 letters of rec from 2 distinct places, meaning you have done 2 great things.

Both of those make sense. Not exactly sure what breadth one would want to see but I do go to a private school so it's not only flight related courses I'm taking. I read a ton and study other topics through other outlets as well, though that's not something that can be as readily displayed on an application.

 

As far as the letters go, I am wondering if it hurts to have the ones I have when some people have letters from general officers even if they don't really know them.

Edited by ayz33

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8 hours ago, ayz33 said:

As far as the letters go, I am wondering if it hurts to have the ones I have when some people have letters from general officers even if they don't really know them.

Doubt it. Who they’re from matters in the sense of that person’s credibility (even if only perceived) gleaned from their position to an extent, but also how well they know you/I think they can accurately write you a LOR that isn’t canned. You don’t need a letter from a general to get interviewed.

Review your cover letter and resume...those two things need to be well written and sell you. They are generally the first two things that guys skim; if they don’t catch my attention in a positive way, higher pK your app is tossed to the “relook at later” pile vs. the “give this man an interview!” pile.

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4 hours ago, brabus said:

Doubt it. Who they’re from matters in the sense of that person’s credibility (even if only perceived) gleaned from their position to an extent, but also how well they know you/I think they can accurately write you a LOR that isn’t canned. You don’t need a letter from a general to get interviewed.

Review your cover letter and resume...those two things need to be well written and sell you. They are generally the first two things that guys skim; if they don’t catch my attention in a positive way, higher pK your app is tossed to the “relook at later” pile vs. the “give this man an interview!” pile.

Thanks again. I recently completely reworked those two after I was denied from 4 units who all had packages due around the same time.

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13 hours ago, ayz33 said:

Both of those make sense. Not exactly sure what breadth one would want to see but I do go to a private school so it's not only flight related courses I'm taking. I read a ton and study other topics through other outlets as well, though that's not something that can be as readily displayed on an application.

As far as the letters go, I am wondering if it hurts to have the ones I have when some people have letters from general officers even if they don't really know them.

If you have an area of your resume with interests and hobbies, you could include the information about the stuff you read and study in there. What I was trying to get at is that flight schools aren't exactly pouring money into their chemistry department so if you have a "Hey I spend a lot of time reading about environmental science/middle east history/astronomy" in your cover letter, maybe that can help them see that you are more than a pilot. There is a good chance your application package already makes them see that, though.

Do not worry about rank on these letters of recommendation. Unless it is a very well-written letter describing a very personal connection to the applicant, it might appear that you are trying to intimidate or throw rank at the board. I am sure most of us could bother enough people to get a flag officer to make his aide write a generic letter. A lot fewer people could convince the head of a food bank to rant and rave about how you were an awesome, dedicated volunteer.

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Just a heads up, I'm not a fighter guy, nor a select, but from my first hand experience asking fighter guys this is what I've learned...

@brabus hit the nail on the head. I've been very fortunate to have some fighter advice imparted on me and the cover letter/resume can make a world of a difference. Standing out is KEY. Write a cover letter that shows personality and is one-of-a-kind. Took me over a year and several dozen pairs of eyes on it, but I finally tailored something that fits who I am and has definitely caught attention. For your resume, best advice I've gotten, "if you only had one page to gloat, what would you write?"... talk it up. 

LOR's can be a saving grace, especially from the right people, either within the community or people who can speak to your professionalism and personality, but typically letters only get eyes on them unless its coming down to the wire (make or break decision for an interview/hire).

Otherwise, your scores are great, I wouldn't sweat anything else (age, scores, letters). You've definitely got better scores than me and are a few years younger. Instead focus on rushing and standing out; fitting in with the right squadron and making sure your presence is remembered (in a good way) is what should land you that interview, at the very least. Good luck!

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