Hints for Hiring

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.6% in April 2019, which is the lowest jobless rate since December 1969. A growing economy means that companies have an opportunity to expand – but not without finding the right people. With such a low unemployment rate, businesses report that finding and retaining good people is one of their greatest challenges. Read on to hear from local experts on how companies can hire and retain top talent in this economy.


Marie Webb vice President of Human Resources EPB in chattanooga

Marie Webb

Vice President, Human Resources,

In this environment, we pursue initiatives big and small to remain competitive. Strategies include: 1) Advertise community engagement. For example, EPB supports the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. When recruiting top female talent, we offer opportunities to positively impact young women and girls as an incentive to join EPB. 2) Employee engagement surveys show that diversity is important. A healthy and diverse workplace is attractive to many job seekers and indicates an organization is well-positioned to grow. 3) Leverage employees as recruiting scouts. Provide financial and social incentives for bringing talent into the organization. Align those same employees to identify issues early so that new employees thrive and remain engaged within the organization.



sue collins senior vice president adn chief HR officer at TVA in chattanooga

Sue Collins

Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer,

The traditional methods of recruiting simply aren’t enough. Today, organizations must develop a recruiting culture. From CEO to intern, from supervisor to skilled trades to the front-line, everyone recruits. Everyone tells your story – it’s up to your networks how it’s told. Potential employees are using their social networks to dive deep into companies, bypassing traditional recruitment channels. Leveraging your employee’s networks – professional, community, university, military, etc. – to promote and personalize your brand will allow you to create connections that reach the best talent.



kimberly brown chattanooga business woman vice president and global head of talent acquisition at unum group

Kimberly Bowen

Vice President & Global Head of  Talent Acquisition,
Unum Group

To attract talent in a tight labor market, it’s critical for companies to offer a competitive suite of employee benefits. Benefits packages should support people of diverse experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives and meet the needs of workers during transition moments, like becoming a parent or preparing for retirement. Unum offers a broad portfolio of benefits – like paid parental leave; student debt repayment; generous paid time off policies; comprehensive health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance; and retirement and wellness programs – to help us attract and retain the best and brightest talent to serve our customers and grow our business. Benefits like these are not just ’perks’ – they’re investments that help employees thrive professionally, meet their goals, and bring their best to work each day.



gail dawson business woman associate provessor of management at UTC chattanooga

Gail Dawson, PhD

Associate Professor of Management,
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Facing the challenge of a growing economy coupled with low unemployment rates, organizations can tap into nontraditional labor sources. Although the overall unemployment rate is about 3.6%, it is closer to 8% for people with disabilities – many of whom have the skills and abilities needed and want to work. Other nontraditional sources include those receiving public assistance and ex-offenders who often have difficulty finding employment. Employers may also consider applicants who show an aptitude, but lack some of the skills or formal education typically required. Providing opportunities for these often-overlooked groups allows employers to utilize their abilities as well as develop a workforce that may be more loyal given the chance.



Karen Ward Business woman at bluecross blueshield of tennessee

Karen Ward

Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer,
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

In addition to offering competitive pay and benefits, it’s important to show how your company is invested in the success and growth of employees – and how their work helps serve a greater good. For example, we hold town halls and strategy meetings so employees can hear from our leaders about our shared goals. And we regularly solicit feedback from employees and act on what we learn, which they appreciate. We support continual learning and leadership growth in a variety of ways, including our MyBluePath career development and tuition reimbursement programs. And we’re committed to maintaining a workplace where every person is respected and valued. If you create a workplace where employees are valued and provide opportunities for growth, you’ll attract high performers who are dedicated to your company.


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