I love talking to recruiting practitioners. It started a few years ago when I left an I.T. managed services company for RecruitingDaily. I had done my time at a few recruiting technology companies (VisualCV, Monster.com) so I generally knew the landscape. However, I didn’t know recruiting philosophy or strategy well enough to conceptualize articles and talk about recruiting with any kind of authority. Unfortunately, that was basically my new job: take these dry recruiting topics and write a (fill in the blank – post, webinar, etc) that makes it interesting. And not 400 words, either. More. Way more.
As you can imagine, I ran into quite a few topics I knew absolutely nothing about. Where I ran into problems is that unlike many other industries, there’s not a central repository for recruiting research and data. Where those repositories do exist, they didn’t host the ultra specific types of data or case studies I was looking for.
So, to avoid looking like a complete idiot (which only worked 70% of the time), I would make calls. I’d try and seek out someone who had done the project before to offer insights. Today, even though it’s not always part of my job – I always seek out the stories and the people who are doing interesting things to learn their why and how. To listen.
Of course, not everyone I end up speaking to is an innovator.
Win: Value of Competitive Analysis
There I was. I know I looked disgruntled and confused because, well, I was. I could feel the imprint of a few new forehead wrinkles as I listened. He just said, “Who cares about what competitors do?”
Thank God I take mostly phone and not video meetings.
I take issue with this philosophy, clearly, because at that point all the red flags went off in my head and I started thinking, “what the hell? When did recruiting start to create campaigns in a silo?”
Wait. That’s not new. I’ve done it myself. I’d have this great idea and push to get it launched without taking the 5 minutes to search and see what’s already happening and if I was repeating a campaign that already existed. Or, more importantly, if there’s a better way. We’ve all been there. It’s particularly easy to do at small companies without a lot of oversight and teamwork. Or in marketing. See: every holiday commercial ever.
For recruiting, it’s downright dangerous to ignore people who locally and nationally compete for attention on hard-to-fill roles. See, it’s important that you know what typical candidates who apply to your job are seeing everywhere else so you know where the bar is set for candidate experience, benefits, culture, etc. Not that mirroring their site should be what you should aspire to, per say, but that’s the minimum you have to do to be competitive.
So many times people push back on competitive research because it’s “stealing ideas” or they try to say “who cares.” You should care. And looking at recruiting competitors isn’t about stealing ideas. It’s about keeping your team competitive when it comes to hiring.
So, if you’re looking to make major changes to any element of your externally facing candidate experience, look around first at the people hiring your potential candidates right from under your nose.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.