Sourcing great employees is a challenge that all companies face.  Some do it much better than others.  A lot has been written about talent acquisition strategies highlighting employee referrals as the top source of hire.  Back in 1999 Southwest Airlines launched a really compelling talent sourcing campaign that is just as applicable today.

Southwest Airlines has built a unique corporate culture and a unique flying experience.  Herb Kelleher, their founder saw an opportunity to create a very different type of airline.  As a low cost carrier Southwest Airlines focused on customer service and making flying more affordable and fun.  Talent acquisition at Southwest Airlines to this day is a critical component of their success.  Southwest very much hires for attitude.  Finding people who fit with the culture is important.  Back in 1999 Southwest recognized a few things that differentiated them from their competitors.  First they determined that nepotism was actually a strength.  Having husbands and wives working for Southwest was seen as a good thing.  It allowed the organization to better align vacations for their employees, led to better employee loyalty, saving significantly on benefits costs and create a more engaged workforce. This was quite a departure from the trend in other organizations that discouraged nepotism.

The other significant way that Southwest differentiated was to target their customers as an important target audience in their talent acquisition strategy.  Southwest launched a very clever tongue and cheek campaign in print and on their airplanes where they actually printed on the air-sickness bags the statement "Sick of your job?"   A clever way to get their captive audience of passengers to consider Southwest Airlines a potential employer.  The ads also ran in print.  Employment branding is often overlooked by companies, yet having the right talent on the team is so critical to an organization's success.

Southwest clearly understood the importance of clearly identifying their employee target audience and took a unique approach to reaching that audience.  Those that have flown Southwest Airlines are familiar with their corporate culture.  Flight attendants and gate agents in sneakers so they can run faster, a reputation for the fastest gate turnarounds in the industry and a playful approach to even the safety messages on their planes.  Southwest is not for everyone, but those that fly the airline tend to understand the corporate culture and could be good potential employees.

Does your organization have a well developed talent acquisition strategy?  Have you considered your existing customers as a potential target audience for your open roles?  Are you sick of your current job?