The Sky’s the Limit with a Flores MBA
May 09, 2023
How Brad Petit took his HR career with Southwest Airlines to new heights.
Grabbing the attention of a recruiter can often prove to be a powerful networking tool during a job search. While many focus on getting a recruiter's eye, increasingly, some jobseekers look to become recruiters themselves. Human Resources roles are projected to grow 8% in the next ten years, outpacing the national average. Additionally, a study in 2022 found that 8 in 10 employers have elevated hiring from a priority to an essential business function, with salaries and recruiter job postings on the rise.
Recruiters play a unique role in bridging the gap between satisfying organizational needs and scouting great talent. Many also enjoy the rewarding part of helping candidates get their dream role, which was 2017 Flores MBA alum Brad Petit’s primary motivation and the determining factor for him to pursue the recruiting side of HR.
We recently spoke with Petit to learn more about his career trajectory as a recruiter and, specifically, the challenges and rewards in his current role as a Technical Recruiter in Cybersecurity for Southwest Airlines.
Tell us about your career path since graduating from the Flores MBA Program.
Petit: I moved around in jobs and states after I graduated from the Flores MBA Program in 2017. I started in banking in Baton Rouge but later moved to Dallas, Texas to pursue IT Recruiting with a job at TEKsystems. There, I specialized in recruiting for roles in cybersecurity in the financial sector.
Then, I briefly took a break from recruiting and took a job in medical sales. While it was a rewarding and fascinating experience, I quickly realized I missed recruiting and being a part of a team. Southwest reached out to me about an open position in recruiting, specifically supporting their cybersecurity team. It was a perfect fit for me, given my experience recruiting cybersecurity professionals.
What first attracted you to HR and recruiting?
Petit: I was more drawn to recruiting aspect of HR because I liked the idea of being able to employ people and make a positive change in their lives by helping them find jobs. The role as a recruiter has a blend of networking and sales, which is a perfect fit for me.
When I was in the Flores MBA Program, I went to the LSU Career Fair and stopped at the booth for Aerotek, which specializes in supporting nontechnology jobs for its clients and related to its employees very well. Fast-forward a couple of years, and I secured a job at its sister company, TEKsystems.
It is the best feeling to let someone know they got the job. People are forever grateful for their recruiters, and I keep in contact with most of the employees I recruit.
What’s your favorite part of your role at Southwest Airlines?
Petit: The people! Southwest is a people and customer-driven company. Since Southwest has happy employees, it produces delighted customers. Part of Southwest’s employee promise is to have a servant’s heart by delivering legendary customer service and treating others with respect, helping people with whatever they need.
I always have assistance from my leaders and coworkers (co-hearts, as we call each other) at Southwest. We believe in valuing each person's individualization and what makes them unique. This company allows employees to always be themselves. Also, the free flights are a nice perk!
What is a piece of advice you would recommend to someone wanting to become a recruiter?
Petit: If you want to be a recruiter, you will more than likely have to start with an agency firm. Agencies act as a third party to larger companies like Southwest, and employees early in their careers recruit mostly in their contract roles.
Make sure to build relationships with the candidates you are working with because establishing those relationships will build trust, which will open opportunities for you to place that candidate with your clients. You should expect delayed gratification, but building a relationship and trust always takes time and a lot of work. It took me almost three months to place my first candidate.
As an internal recruiter for Southwest, you need to build relationships with the internal clients you are supporting. Establishing constant communication and listening to their needs is essential. Be a partner to them and help them understand the labor market. You will work a lot with HR and compensation, so work on your data and analytic skills since you will need to present market data on compensation for candidates in the organization you support.
About the Flores MBA Program
The mission of the LSU Flores MBA Program is to remain competitive in the national and regional markets while fostering learning, leadership, and networking in a global business environment. Full-time, executive, and online tracks are offered and provide schedule flexibility for those wishing to pursue their MBA from a nationally recognized program. For more information, visit mba.lsu.edu or call 225-578-8867.