One of those who spent a lot of money at just the wrong time training to be a commercial pilot - though what an experience it was! I still recall the day I was going through the later stages of instrument rating, on a PC in the crew room and reading a news report about the impending recession. I then checked a pilot jobs site to see a lot of 'negative' news - the writing had been on the wall for some time, but it was that day that it hit home.
During the very final phase of my training, the Multi Crew and Jet Orientation, BA and FlyBE both halted recruitment - between them they were both previously responsible for approximately half of every course getting a job.
Smaller airlines soon followed, with Thomas Cook even deferring 6 trainees whose training had been sponsored by them.
Then the bloodbath began, with other reliable recruiters shutting up shop or going bust completely (Monarch the former, Excel the latter).
I was fortunate enough to get a few assessments - Luxair and Tyrolean to start with - but both used psychometric tests with pass rates in the low single figures; and as they were about the only game in town apart from Ryanair competition was fierce.
Finally there was Ryanair. Friends who had applied reported the sim session was pretty simple; plan and fly a SID and then a radar vectored ILS to minima with a landing, with some manual handling in between, perhaps with some minor fault that could be resolved through CRM (door open warnings was a common one, pretend to call the cabin crew to check the seals were tight. No further action required).
However, I still believe that on the day I went they weren't looking for pilots (but hey, when candidates are paying for the privilege of assessment, why stop running them?). I got the lot - engine failure after takeoff, TCAS alerts and near collisions, engine out manual handling and of course the 'weather' didn't clear like it did for my friends! Perhaps unsurprisingly I wasn't successful with Ryanair - then to make matters worse they changed their policy to no re-applications ever, so I couldn't even re-apply.
Whilst the job market has improved recently, it hasn't improved enough to convince me to fork out £thousands for a faint sniff at a job - too many airlines are now using third party training companies where you now pay your own way through sim and line training - around £25k which isn't money you find down the back of the sofa!
The only job I have held in aviation was a temporary position as an ATC assistant in the tower at MAN, where even the stationery cupboard had a view to make any av geek jealous. When the two months of fun ended, the job market for anything aviation was saturated with even baggage handling roles being massively over subscribed. So I turned to a different career avenue in public transport, becoming a bus driver initially and now a tram driver, with one eye looking at potentially taking the next step up to heavy rail.
There's the right way, the wrong way and the railway.