Companies counter tight labor market with innovative strategies

Many employers are discouraged about the tight labor market; many workers are job-hunting. After years of being oversold by the latest technology, both sides are re-learning how to get together.

Companies have learned that technology, promising to end recruitment woes, continues to overstate benefits and be largely irrelevant. Creating their own solution makes it possible to target specific needs.

Organic upgrades

Tom DeSot, EVP and CIO at San Antonio’s cybersecurity Digital Defense Inc., could see that the job market isn’t preparing people with skill sets for assessing vulnerabilities and their potential for exploitation. “We have to get very innovative,” he remarks.

Thinking strategically, Digital Defense developed a pool to counter low unemployment. It continued to centralize its workforce, as the type of work and systems configuration aren’t compatible with the more trendy remote model.

The business developed a strategy similar to an apprenticeship and teamed with the University of Texas at San Antonio because of its National Security Agency accreditation and industry reputation.

“We made presentations at UTSA not just for recruitment but for educational purposes for professors,” DeSot explains. “We also attended some career fairs.”

Adhering to age requirements for this sensitive work, Digital Defense now reaches high schoolers, too, for internships that increase awareness of new and sometimes unrelated career paths.

Internships have quintupled to more than 10 during the life of the program. “While that may not seem like a dramatic jump,” DeSot comments, “we’re a company of only 115 employees.”

He further points out that for this form of recruitment to work, there need to “be many people looking for intern roles in a particular industry.”

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Management Recruiters International Inc. is part of an “antiquated” industry, according to Bert Miller, president and CEO. His organization developed a personal branding process for target audiences. It includes a social media component.

MRI is shedding its industry’s worn-out roots. One of its operators, for example, after updating his skills, filled a position in Alaska through social media. He invited candidates to apply through MRI’s Career Opportunity posting, LinkedIn and Twitter.

It takes a certain spirit to face the recruitment challenge head-on with tailored tactics. A thoughtful, internally-driven solution can’t help reminding those who benefit from it that they’re part of a human rather than automated operation. Job-hunters, be alert for different vehicles to uncover opportunities.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, by Mildred Culp

The East Tennessee Economic Development Agency markets and recruits business for the 15 counties in the greater Knoxville-Oak Ridge region of East Tennessee. Visit

Published October 29, 2019