5 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You about Attracting Talent

Group BusinessIn business, we’re taught to understand our competition in order to maximize our own performance and growth. Whether it’s for product placement, go to market strategies, financial comparisons, or operational efficiencies, we have to know where we stand on the playing field against our competitors in order to make the right decisions and continuously improve.

So why do functional areas like talent acquisition/recruitment seem to be reactionary and lacking insight into the market when competing for talent?

This is a missed opportunity for Talent Acquisition/Recruitment Leaders to be seen by executives as deserving a seat at the executive table. In the blog “6 Things About talent Your CEO Wants to Know”, a main point explains that to have perceived value with the C-suite, a positive impact on the business needs to be consistently demonstrated. There is clear evidence that when HR and talent acquisition professionals come to the table with quantitative and qualitative data to demonstrate problem solving solutions, they are treated like any other business function or unit and have a seat at the table.

The perception of value only occurs when the data tells a story that provides insight into what the market is doing, where it’s going, and an understanding of changes caused by variables such as competition. This is the type of insight that will leverage strengths, capitalize on opportunities, and get you noticed.

So where do you find such insight into the market besides Talent Intelligence? Your competitors. Their behaviors will provide all the information needed to learn from and improve your organizations’ efforts.

Here is what you can learn from your competition:

First Impressions Matter:

First impressions matter in all walks of life, and it’s no different when a candidate looks at you or your competitor’s talent or employment brand. 12312013bThey will evaluate the culture by reviewing the messaging, what you stand for, and what’s in it for them to grow and develop their careers. As W. Craig Jelinek, CEO of Costco recently stated, “culture isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. Future employees want to connect with a brand, therefore your talent brand has to align with their needs in order to be relevant.

ExactTarget (now Salesforce, after their recent acquisition) is a great example on defining what “Being Orange” means to potential employees. Over the last several years, the “Be Orange” employment brand strategy has dominated their competition by attracting the best talent in their local markets.

Frequency of Impressions:

More is better when targeting the right talent pools with your talent brand. For instance, if your competitors are concentrating on the millennials that you want to hire, then find out where they spend their talent branding monies in relation to social media. If Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and social media platforms (there’s a new one every week) are where they are hanging out and your competitors are there and you are not, then you will lose.

Their Interview Process:

If their interview process is clearly articulated or their process is shorter than yours, then your competitors will hire more and better. Find out what they do through conversations with other candidates or employees who have worked there in the past or been through their process.

17397626-abstract-word-cloud-for-employer-branding-with-related-tags-and-termsConnecting when they’re not looking:

If your competitors are communicating to talent pools through Talent Pipelining strategies, then next time the talent is looking for a new role, whose brand will they remember first? Talent engagement also provides insight into push and pull factors that, over time, will help match to their needs when the time comes.


There are the typical metrics that allow you to gauge how your competitors are doing against your strategy. But if you want to improve quality and take the gut out of hiring, find out what questions and interviewing models they use. Do they use case studies, panel interview, situational questions, assessments, and/or behavioral based questions, and how do they measure quality?

Gathering information to provide insight takes awareness and intentional actions to learn what is exactly going on in the talent market. Continuous improvement is the goal.

How are you evaluating your competitors to improve your Talent Acquisition outcomes? Join the discussion and contact us.

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