"You are in a terrible area right now given your situation."
Yep..... Which is why I am on this forum. Oh well. I will fly soon enough. Which brings me to another question. Have others on this forum taken an extended break from flying such as a year or more? ( I am assuming yes) If so, how hard is it to feel comfortable again in the cockpit? How will I be viewed by future employees if have an extended time away from flying? These are my biggest worries about this whole situation.
I know It will all come back to me, eventually. But at some point I will want to start renting a helicopter to keep some of my proficiency.
I know SRT advertises for other services as well but I get the feeling that those "other services" are not happening that often. I am ok with just doing instruction but I would also love the possibility to do instruction and get some semi-real world experience such as frost/photo flights/part 135/ etc...
It's axiomatic that to get a job in aviation, you need to have a job in aviation. Which is to say, it's a whole lot easier to get someone to hire you to fly an aircraft if you're already flying an aircraft. It's not just a matter of getting comfortable, again. Employers look for recency of experience, and many employers look back at your history (and logbook) to see about consistency.
Breaks in flying with a good explanation (family emergency, injured in a tragic tank collision, attacked by mina birds) are acceptable, but generally employers want to see an upward progression. Everyone is affected by economics along the way, particularly in aviation, so much so that in certain times no one bats an eyelid if someone was unemployed or left the field (such as the recent economic downturn).
If you're going to seek employment, especially while standing on the lower rungs of the experience ladder, the employers aren't going to come to you. You're going to need to go to them. That usually involves moving, not commuting.
You're also far better off delivering your resume in person than you are sending an email. Emails are easily forgotten, easily deleted. If your resume contains a paltry few hours and the bare minimum certification, what makes you any different than the last 50 emails that got deleted with the same resume attached, from 50 different other minimally qualified hopefuls? Nothing.
Be different. Showing up on the doorstep, resume in hand isn't being a pest. It's showing an interest in the job, and it's allowing the employer to to put a face with a name. When it's time to hire, often it's the one standing in front of the Chief Pilot's desk that gets the job, rather than those who have been sitting in a stack on the edge of the desk for the past six months. Remember the "law of recency." It's not just about proficiency or about training a student; it's about what people remember, and you want to be remembered when the school is looking for someone to hire.
I know that 415 hours looks like a whole lot less than 500 hours in your shoes, but it really isn't. It's insignificant. That is to say, a few extra hours doesn't amount to a hill of beans. It's nothing to an employer, either, unless it meets a new threshold in their insurance policy.
Remember that when you're looking for work, it won't come to you. Beat the bushes. Drop resumes. Shake hands. Go everywhere with your logbooks and headsets, ready for an interview on the spot. I've had it happen probably half a dozen times that I showed up and was interviewed. Hired several those times. You never know, but those opportunities absolutely will NOT happen unless you're there to make them happen. Get a road trip going, have a plan well in advance targeting all the places you intend to stop. Print out your resumes customized to each individual employer. Don't simply have the Objective line say "To be employed" or "Employment as Helicopter Instructor." Have it say "Employment as R22 Instructor for Mazzei Flying Service, International School of Aeronautics." Everyone likes to hear their own name; employers, too.
Have a cover letter with each resume. Print two. Have them separated, so only the resume for the place to which you're applying shows. (Don't look like you're applying everywhere; just to them). If they have an online downloadable application, fill it out and bring it with you. The duplicate resume may be needed if you happen to get a pop-up interview; a second person there might want your resume, and it looks better if you have another available. Be prepared to answer interview questions before you go; know what to expect in an interview. Be prepared to answer "TMAT" (tell me about a time that) questions, such as a time you had difficulty with a co worker and handled it. Be prepared with answers to questions about your best traits, why you should be hired, your worst traits, an emergency you handled, something you've learned, and so forth. Be prepared to answer questions about the aircraft you're flying and that you've flown, as well as regulatory questions, and so on. Show up to the interview ready to go to work that day, if needed, meaning you're on the ball, ready to teach, ready to talk, ready to fly.
Dress for the interview when you go, even if you're just dropping a resume. Remember, this is how you'll be remembered. Don't be the guy that shows up in a corduroy suit or shorts and a tee shirt. It maybe how their people dress, but it's not how their people showing up to an interview dress. Dressing well and professionally speaks about your respect for the employer, your desire for the job, your own professionalism. It shows that you know how to behave. Fresh hair cut, no dirt under the nails, clean shave, goes without saying.
If you don't have a professional looking resume, get one. See what's in use, format it the same. It doesn't hurt to get some assistance with your resume, your interviewing, and your preparation. Remember that a cover letter attached to your resume has one purpose; to get you an interview. Most people who write cover letters forget that one single most important thing: ask for the interview, generally in the last paragraph. Pick up some reading on resumes and cover letters if you're not familiar; they're readily available these days. Don't get into fancy parchment papers or colors. A resume on plain white paper works just fine. Don't fold it. Don't wrinkle it, either. Remember that in the employers hands, the resume IS you.
Emphasize your willingness to relocate at the employers request. Don't hesitate to do so, if you want the job. Early in your career, a good I'll-do-what-it-takes attitude is quite helpful. Essential, even. In the meantime, look at additional ways to make yourself more marketable. Mechanic experience and certification is useful; the number of maintenance-qualified pilots is relatively small, and there are a number of operators out there that could use such a pilot (especially those that work in remote areas, and utility operators). If your'e a CFII already, you don't need the AGI and IGI, but they do add to your resume, and they're easy to get. Pick them up. Consider adding a few other qualifications. Go add on fixed wing with a glider rating. It's inexpensive, but makes you "dual qualified, " and that alone might open other doors. If you're looking to instruct at a place that does both rotor and fixed wing, then you might consider adding an airplane category to your certificate at the school; instructors are often hired at the place where they train.
The big thing right now is to get out there and get known. Squeaky wheel syndrome. Go get the grease.