How to Think About Your Transferable Skills as Cabin Crew?

by Jan 28, 2021

Transferable skills as Cabin Crew

You have transferable skills as cabin crew. It is time to take stock of the wide range of skills you’ve developed while working in this challenging job.

Time to Take Stock

It’s no secret that many employers favour candidates who have relevant industry-specific experience. However, from my experience, some organisations recognise the value of hiring cross-sector. A candidate with an “outside view” can potentially bring a competitive advantage to a business.

As an Executive Recruiter, I assist candidates at all levels with their move into a new industry. For most, it is not easy to break the hiring manager’s preconceived ideas as to what they need in a candidate and demonstrate the added value they can bring.

With mass layoffs and uncertainty in the aviation market around the world, cabin crew members are having to think hard about the direction of their careers. It is easy to overlook the many skills one gains in this safety-critical role.

As a cabin crew member, you went through a selective screening process and a rigorous on-the-job training program before you were finally permitted to work your first flight. It is time to take stock of the wide range of skills you’ve developed while working in this challenging job.


Transferable skills as Cabin Crew

What Are Transferable Skills?

Transferable skills are ones that you can build on and develop throughout your careerThey tend to benefit both candidates and employers in a variety of different ways:

  • Portability: The nature of transferable skills means they can be taken with you when you move jobs and even industries. As you progress in your career, the skills that you currently possess will improve and you will also gain additional ones as well.
  • Flexibility: Your transferable skills will make you an attractive candidate for a range of companies in different sectors. Having a diverse skill set will help you stand out from the other applicants and demonstrate that you have greater flexibility.
  • Employability: Although you may not have direct work experience in the industry you are targeting, your transferable skills will demonstrate that you can adapt to new demands, cultures and environments.

In the next section, I’ve highlighted fifteen transferable skills as cabin crew that can be applied in a variety of other ‘non-flying’ roles both within and outside the sector.

Top Transferable Skills for Cabin Crew

1. Initiative & Leadership

As a flight attendant, you must demonstrate great enthusiasm in taking responsibility to find quick and effective solutions to unexpected problems that arise on board an aircraft. You have the ability to take charge, and offer perspective and direction to both crew and passengers. These leadership qualities will serve you well in any industry you may decide to join. Leading people is one of the skills senior cabin crew develop once they take up a managerial/supervisory role on board.

2. Customer Experience Mindset

The experience passengers receive on a flight will determine their view of the airline. As a cabin crew member, you act as a brand ambassador of your carrier. When you are at work you deal with customers almost all the time.

You understand that customers’ needs and expectations vary. From the happy vacationer to the stressed single parent, to the tired or overworked executive in the expensive seats, you manage the multiple and varied expectations of passengers. Wherever you have worked on the plane, you will have developed a unique set of skills in delivering and managing these expectations, in often challenging conditions.

“Customer obsession” is highly sought after by employers across a range of sectors.

3. First Aid & Safety Skills

All cabin crew have to attend regular safety and first aid training. This is a practical skill that will appeal to many employers. If you have ever used this to save someone’s life, consider finding a way of mentioning it to demonstrate your ability to work under pressure – and make a difference to someone’s life, few others get to do.

4. Conflict Management

You often have to deal with dissatisfied (and occasionally angry and/or intoxicated) customers in very difficult circumstances – and often in front of an audience.

Many experienced cabin crew have an ability to spot conflict arising and defusing it before it bubbles over. Doing this at 30 000ft in the middle of the night takes some skill and nerve. In any customer-facing role, these skills are highly valued – so draw attention to them.

5. Problem – Solving Skills

You are skilled in dealing with unforeseen situations on a daily basis. You are also able to handle surprising and often unpredictable human behaviour. Problem-solving is an essential skill for professionals at any level within an organization. Your ability to navigate complex situations will be welcome in any company.

6. Adaptability & Flexibility

In your line of work, it is essential that your personal qualities include being adaptable and flexible to changes in the workplace. Every passenger and situation is unique in some way, and as cabin crew, you have the ability to be flexible to work with any situation that may arise.

As an example, although you may receive your roster a few weeks in advance, it’s important that your diary is kept free as you may be required to be on standby and available to fly at short notice to cover sickness or other major issues. Few people will be able to compete with the skills that come with constantly travelling and adapting to different environments quickly.

7. Empathy, Compassion & Emotional Intelligence

You are trained to be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, including passengers and other crew members. Your ability to anticipate requirements and attend to the needs of your customers in a timely manner will make you a valuable addition to any team.

8. Stress Tolerance & Ability to Work Well Under Pressure

On occasion, a flight can be very stressful because of certain situations such as flight delays, full flight load, difficult and demanding passengers, or even crew conflict. As a flight attendant, you must also be able to accept criticism and deal calmly and effectively with high-stress situations. Your ability “to let go” will serve you well in your next role in or outside of the industry.

9. Sales Skills

More and more airlines introduce paid onboard service. Depending on the airline you worked for, you will have had sales targets to meet. Your salary might have been influenced by how much you sold. Sales skills are extremely useful in any industry. It does not matter if you will be working for someone or starting your own business. Sales skills will come handy no matter what you decide to do.

10. Communication & Interpersonal Skills

As a flight attendant, you are an effective communicator. You are proficient at advising passengers on emergency procedures and convey information clearly. In emergencies, you know how to relay information to your team members and passengers plainly and effectively.

Listening to the client’s requests and responding to them in a timely manner is essential irrespective of sector. Your prospective employer will value this skill highly.

Transferable skills as Cabin Crew


11. Teamworking Skills & Cultural Awareness

You are used to working with diverse teams which include people from different cultural backgrounds to your own. You can build rapport easily and work with anyone. You have an ability to join or lead a team in very little time – often never having met or worked with your colleagues before.

The ability to work effectively as part of a team is a highly sought after skill by all employers. As an ex-cabin crew, you are best placed to make a worthy addition to any team.

12. Composure & Self-Control

As a flight attendant, you must keep your composure at all times. Even if you are faced with a difficult situation that can make you angry or upset, you must keep your emotions in check and avoid any behaviour that is out-of-character. This is a valuable skill to have, particularly in a high-pressure managerial role.

13. Time Management & Organisation Skills

While working on a flight you may have to deal with delivering meals, customer issues, and potential emergencies. As there is a time constraint on flights you must also be able to prioritise. Even in your daily life, you must be organised so you can be on standby if you are needed to go to work at the last minute. Effective time management and organisation skills are a must for most roles.

14. Brand Presentation Skills – Attention to Detail

Another key transferable skill you have is great attention to detail. Paying attention and being careful about the smallest of details is one of the top qualities that any cabin crew member must possess.

Having spent a career paying attention to brand consistency, e.g. (often very strict) uniform standards, personal conduct and presentation, you understand that presentation and detail drives customer perception and experience – and ultimately brand loyalty.

No matter what industry you are trying to break into, this skill will be on top of any employer’s list of requirements.

15. Social Media Marketing Skills

Some of you may already have a strong social media presence as you share the highlights of your jet-set lifestyle with your followers on Instagram and other platforms. You might be blogging or building influencer presence and are ready to start collaborating with brands willing to promote products amongst your audience.

Like the ability to sell, online marketing skills are likely to come handy in your next venture.

Our Returner Roll-Up Session can help you to learn how to identify your transferable skills today.

How to Successfully Transition Into a New Sector or Role?

Use the language of your target industry/company. Many of your skills are likely to be transferable, however, sometimes the industry-specific language or acronyms used in various settings make these skills seem more different than they actually are. Be mindful of this when crafting your CV, LinkedIn profile and other career marketing tools. Use language that is familiar in the industry where you’re going versus the industry you’re leaving.

Applying the terminology of your target industry is important because it makes it easier for a potential new employer to see the overlap in the skill sets.

Be nimble, agile & adaptable. When you switch industries/roles, your job is to convince the hiring manager that you can figure out a new environment without too much hand-holding. Even if you are a top performer in your current role and company – hiring executives will want you to give them specific examples of how you’ve successfully adjusted to new environments.

Have you switched industries or functions successfully before? Or maybe you were thrown into an ambiguous role without training or had to lead a project you’d never done previously? A track record of success in tough situations will go a long way in convincing a hiring manager that you will be able to make a smooth transition.

Improve your negotiation skills with this article that has 9 tips to negotiate a job offer like a pro.

Utilise your professional network. One of the best ways to broaden your professional network is by setting up informational interviews with people active in your target field. Try to get them to refer you and share leads with you. Being referred by someone who is already active in the industry or career you want carries a lot of weight.

While a referral isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the job, you’ll begin with the bias in your favor. This is crucial since most career changers start out with a bias against them since they’re coming from a non-traditional background.

Opportunities Beyond Aviation

There are many options (even in the current market) for someone of your background and training. As a flight attendant, you are highly skilled in managing difficult situations such as delivering life-saving instructions in an emergency. You’ve undergone rigorous training to provide quality customer service and promote safety – skills necessary in a variety of different fields.

With the right additional training, roles in healthcare would be one such obvious alternative career path cabin crew could pursue. For example, emergency medical technicians and medical responders are the first to respond in an emergency. Such roles will allow a former flight attendant to use his or her flight safety training in a new position that emphasizes fast thinking and experienced care.

As an example, Singapore Airlines redeployed many of its grounded flight attendants to hospitals, where they serve patients in low-risk wards.

Under the supervision of nursing staff, SIA’s “care ambassadors” provide administrative support and attend to patients who require routine medical care in a non-clinical role.

This can include care-giving such as helping patients to sit up in bed, accompanying patients to the washrooms, serving of meals and assisting during therapy sessions. Care ambassadors may also help with service management such as collating feedback from patients and families as well as managing visitor traffic.

Scandinavian Airlines would be another good example where cabin crew completed training as assistant nurses to help relieve the load on the overburdened medical departments.

Irrespective of the path you pursue, the experience and skills you gained working in aviation will put you in good stead for opportunities well beyond the airline world.


If you would like help with recognising your transferable skills then Contact Us today


About the Author : Arpad Szakal is an Executive Recruiter, Career Strategist and a former aviation lawyer. He is an experienced consultant with specialised expertise in the engineering, infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, as well as aerospace & defence.

Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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