I was hired by United Airlines as a Flight Officer on October 16, 1978. In those days they used the term "Flight Officer" instead of "Pilot" because most new-hires were assigned as Flight Engineers. Now, of course, new-hires are all hired as pilots.
My road to the airlines:
1977: Flight Engineer written exam
1977: Airline Transport Pilot written exam - FAILED on the first attempt!
1977: Self-study for ATP written exam - PASSED with 99%
1977: Airline Transport Pilot practical test - Beech 18
1978 (March): Flight Engineer training at Arnautical, Inc.
1978 (April): Instructed Flight Engineer trainees at Arnautical
1978 (May): Updated United application
1978 (July): Interviewed with United Airlines
1978 (October): New-hire at United
1981 (June): Furloughed!