Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal

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Southwest Airlines is a company with a rich history of exceptional air transportation services, which depends on organizational culture and its HR practices. Over the years, the company has developed a solid and unique approach to recruitment, which has helped Southwest build a team of devoted and friendly professionals with exceptional skills. However, it is relevant to update the recruitment strategies used by the company when recruiting new pilots to ensure the alignment of recruiting practices with the standards and ensure competitive advantage in the changing market. This recruitment plan proposal presents an overview of applicable recruitment sources, selection and training methods, performance management, and turnover regulation that would align with the company’s strategic direction and corporate culture.

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Recruitment Sources

Despite the abundance of highly effective recruitment resources available to the company, the ones that most fit pilot recruiting to Southwest should be those of a mixed or internal nature and provide the most informative details about applicants. Such requirements are derived from the company’s prior HR practices and meet Southwest’s employee vision (Southwest Airlines, 2021; Verasay, 2018). According to Noe (2021), “when it comes to deciding on recruiting an insider or outsider for the organization’s top spot, the evidence is quite clear that outsiders often struggle to adapt to their new role” (p. 194). However, when recruiting new pilots, the company is interested in attracting new professionally prepared individuals who might not be available from inside the company due to their current positions as pilots.

Therefore, the first recruitment source best suited to recruit pilots is referrals, which allows for choosing a candidate whose expertise has been acknowledged by a company professional (Noe, 2021). The second recruitment source might be universities and colleges. From this source, a company might be able to choose the students based on their academic performance and skills, which is particularly important for filling such a responsible position as the pilot (Noe, 2021). The third recruitment source is direct applicants whose intention to work for the company might be motivated by their knowledge about the organization and their professional readiness. The quantity of resumes that should be generated within this recruitment plan is estimated to be approximately 150, with about 20% of those likely to result in accepted offers. The time to fill the position should be between three and six months, with the costs ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 to fill the position.

Selection Methods

Once the resumes are received, the processing of applicants’ details and the consecutive selection should follow. To ensure that the candidates meet the criteria for pilots working at Southwest Airlines company, meticulously chosen selection methods should be used. These methods must provide the resulting data indicating the characteristics that best align with the company’s expectations. In particular, the company is concerned with selecting only perfect matches among the candidates so that the team is composed of the right people. As the company’s recruitment strategy description holds, “the culture of Southwest Airlines demonstrates a people-oriented airline that depends on approachable and friendly employees to thrive” (Verasay, 2018, para. 4). Therefore, the selection methods should align with these culture-related expectations and demonstrate candidates’ characteristics related to their soft and hard skills.

According to the company’s human resource management information, “the company hires individuals that must represent its branding message and carry a passion for helping customers” (Verasay, 2018, para. 4). Therefore, to further ensure that the newly selected pilots comply with the company’s high expectations toward the personality and professionalism of the airline’s staff, one of the key selecting methods should be personality inventories (Noe, 2021). In particular, Southwest Airlines HR managers might apply a self-assessment big five personality test to examine the applicants’ personality types and their compliance with the standards of the company (Noe, 2021). Another applicable selecting method is an interview, which might be developed and implemented in a way that best suits the needs of the company to know particular information about applicants (Noe, 2021). In particular, situational interviews might be effective for Southwest since they allow for simulating future work-related situations that will demonstrate the candidates’ fit.

Finally, cognitive ability tests might serve as a reliable selecting method that would help evaluate applicants’ language, comprehension, and other cognitive skills vital for the professional execution of the pilot’s responsibilities. All the suggested selection methods are reliable and valid since they are evidence-based and theory-oriented, as well as provide the exact information required by the recruiter. Moreover, from the utility point of view, these methods meet the bottom-line goals of the company and will not overburden its budget with costly procedures. Finally, they all are legal and comply with employment laws.

Training Methods

The choice of training and development methods is crucial for the achievement of company goals through adequate HR programs. In particular, when employing new pilots, Southwest should consider the methods of training that allow for addressing the new entrants’ acknowledgment of company culture and structure in terms of expected behavior and their performance quality and skill level (Verasay, 2018). To pursue these two training goals, the company might use the following training and development methods. Firstly, to ensure the continuous development of pilots’ practical skills, the method of simulation should be used (Noe, 2021). It might be costly, but it is essential for an airline company due to its capacity to provide skill improvement on a constant basis. There are minimal risks associated with this method since employees can practice virtually, either remotely or at the site. Furthermore, it has proven to be of high effectiveness in terms of performance quality improvement (Noe, 2021).

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Secondly, on-the-job training methods might be applicable to further advance the practical skills of newly appointed pilots. In particular, an apprenticeship might be an effective and cost-efficient training method that would ensure experience-sharing and enhanced engagement of newly appointed employees with organizational structure and performance-related issues (Noe, 2021). This training approach pursues high-level learning and development outcomes due to the hands-on experience of the pilots. Finally, the method of instructor-guided presentations might be used to achieve the goal of employee behavior alignment with organizational culture and structure. New employees will best acquire information from a first-hand source that would allow for communicating with instructors and asking questions (Noe, 2021). This method is cost-efficient, highly effective, and offers positive learning and development outcomes. Employees will have an opportunity to adapt to the organizational environment and be guided through the adaptation process, equipped with the information that would guide their daily performance. The risks associated with this method are limited; however, it is likely that the one-direction delivery of information during a presentation might not be sufficiently processed by the employees, which is why it would be best to integrate an evaluation after the presentation.

Performance Management System

Once recruited and employed, new pilots’ performance should be properly monitored and managed to ensure the high quality of their duty completion and timely identification of problematic issues for their immediate elimination. One of the effective methods of performance management that would meet Southwest Airlines’ exceptional customer service quality goals might be performance appraisals. This approach has been effectively used by the company throughout the years and has shown positive results for individual accomplishment and overall organizational performance. Thus, in line with the company’s HR strategy, a performance appraisal should be used in order to ensure the monitoring of the quality of service and timely resolving of issues. According to Noe (2021), the performance appraisal method allows for identifying individual performance-related problems of employees and guiding them in the journey toward correcting those problems.

Thus, this performance management approach’s effectiveness is in providing a “clear understanding of the differences between current performance and expected performance, identifying causes of the performance discrepancy, and developing action plans to improve performance” (Noe, 2021, p. 274). This approach is congruent with the organizational HR strategy; it is reliable due to the individual approach to performance management; it is specific and acceptable since it helps to address each problem separately and communicate the issue in a civil manner.

Methods to Minimize Voluntary Turnover

Since dissatisfaction with work might be a cause for voluntary turnover, the company should ensure using methods for minimizing such cases. One of the effective and accessible methods is initiating employee assistance and wellness programs (Noe, 2021). This method aligns with the strategy already employed by Southwest Airlines, where health and retirement plans are in effect, as well as discounts, high compensation, and other benefits are available to employees. Using such programs, the company will avoid employee burnout, and maintain their motivation and diligence, thus contributing to the minimized turnover rate.


In summation, the proposed recruitment plan for Southwest Airlines company has been developed on the basis of information about the organization’s strategy, vision, and goals, as well as its current HR practices and needs. Among the recruitment sources, referrals, direct applicants, and universities and colleges have been recommended. Situational interviews, personality inventories, and cognitive ability tests are the selection methods that are anticipated to be of high utility, effectiveness, reliability, and validity. To ensure employees’ training and development, apprenticeship, simulations, and instructor-guided presentations would be best fitted to the company’s goals. When managing the employees’ performance, Southwest Airlines might continue using the performance appraisal method to ensure timely performance problem identification and solving. Finally, to ensure minimized voluntary turnover of pilots employed at the company, Southwest should enhance its efforts in implementing employee wellness programs. The use of the recommended HR methods will help the company enhance the strengths of its employee team, maintain a high level of customer service quality, improve bottom-line accomplishments, and improve its competitive advantage in the market.


Noe, R.A. (2021). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive advantage (12th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

Verasay, A. (2018). The Southwest Airlines HR success story you’ll want to read today. HR Digest. Web.

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"Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal." BusinessEssay, 1 Dec. 2022,


BusinessEssay. (2022) 'Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal'. 1 December.


BusinessEssay. 2022. "Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal." December 1, 2022.

1. BusinessEssay. "Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal." December 1, 2022.


BusinessEssay. "Southwest Airlines Human Resource Recruitment Plan Proposal." December 1, 2022.