How to Use Data to Beat Your Competition
Whether we like it or not, we all have competitors. Sometimes, colleagues are trying to get the same position as you, but in many cases, our competitors are from other companies. In recruitment, your competitors are competing agencies that are trying to fill your clients’ open roles quicker than you or other recruiters that are targeting the same candidates as you. Even if you are a freelancer working alone, your competitors are other agencies and other headhunters. Recruitment is a very competitive field, and we are all in competition, although some recruiters do not to realize it.
It is important to know and understand your competition. Dismissing or ignoring your competitors will not make your problems go away, even if you belittle them. Many recruiters eventually come to grief because they fail to watch their competitors slowly learn how to do their job better than them.
If you want to stay smart, then you must show respect to other competitors in your space. Do not dismiss them; rather, study and learn from them. It is only when you do this that you will be able to improve your value propositions and hiring strategy.
By monitoring your competitors on an on-going basis, you can understand their behavior and can start to anticipate what they will likely be doing next. Knowing their next steps will give you the advantage that you are looking for.
1. Find the Important Players in Your Competition
You probably know who your major competitors are on the market and who the recruiters are in these companies. However, do you know what content they are creating, what activities they are doing, and what is working for them?
If you want to stay ahead of other competitors, arm yourself with information about the key people who make things work in these companies and what these companies have done, are doing, and will do.
Sometimes, it even helps to ask your key talent, applicants, and prospects what other companies they might have considered. If it happens that you lose a top talent to another firm, competitor or not, ensure that you find out why this talent left to see if there’s something they did right that you did not.
2. Learn Your Competitors’ Recruiting Strategy
Staying ahead in business requires knowing the strengths and flaws of your competitors’ recruitment strategies. You want to know how they select their talent, why they select the people they recruit, how they source these talents, and so on. When you gain this knowledge, use it to improve your recruitment strategy, action plan, and tools, which will greatly maximize your gains. To gain this knowledge, you will need to visit your competitors’ career pages and social media page and look at their job descriptions and employer branding strategies.
Look at where they post their jobs, who handles their recruitment (if they outsourced it), and how they handle college recruitment. Conduct research on the Internet. If they have presented papers at talent management conferences, read them. Carry out data collection to see when recruitment was at its peak at your competitors’ firms, so you can recruit when it is low. Lastly, try to find out what recruiting software, technology, and vendors they use in their recruitment plans; if you use the same resources, then you do not have any advantage over your competitors.
3. Monitor Their Social Activity
Bear in mind, that your competitors are the best source of information. Inspecting their social media activities will help you better understand the market and the audiences that you and your competitors are targeting.
You can learn from them about popular content that will bring you attention and what does not working. Your competitions’ failures will save you time and money on things that you do not have to try anymore. You do not have to be the first pioneer spending your money and time on resources destined to fail because your competitors already did that.
Do you know what your competitors and their key players are posting on LinkedIn and Facebook and what they are Tweeting? If not, then it is time to find out!
Google is always the best place where to start, but it will not give you the ability monitor your competitors online. However, Google does offer Google Alerts. It is a free tool that will help monitor new content that appears on Google. Set up alerts for particular keywords and notifications through email or as RSS. Add branded alerts for your competitors, create the alerts as RSS channels, and connect them with Feedly. This setup will create a great tracking tool that will not fill your mailbox but will give you the opportunity to see how many alerts you get about each competitor per month.
Many companies and people are using URL shorteners like Bitly or Goo.gl, because they track data such as how many people click on your links. With the small “hack,” you can get almost the same information as these tools, so you can see how many people visited the link that just shared.
The way how you can see the data is simple; just add “+” behind the URL.
I created these two examples for this article, so feel free to test them.
This link will redirect you to the list of all articles: http://bit.ly/lnkdarticles
This link will show you how many people clicked on it: http://bit.ly/lnkdarticles+
This link will redirect you to the list of all articles: https://goo.gl/IrYwTS
This link will show you how many people clicked on it: https://goo.gl/IrYwTS+
Adding “+” will also reveal that the URL that was shortened, information that could be handy, especially when you are not sure if you should click on a link that could lead you to a website containing viruses.
Facebook is one source that is accessible to everybody. Most of the information is public, so you do not have to ask for permission to get this data. This data can tell you how many posts your competitors are sharing and how many people like and share these posts. This information will also give help you learn about the engagement of their users.
If you are targeting the same people on the market (and you probably are), Facebook will help you learn what content performs well for you target audience, content that could perform for you too if you share it. This intel will help you to understand what you should post and the right time to post it to maximize the engagement of your targeted group.
One great tool for analyzing your Facebook page and that of your competitors is Fanpage Karma. It is an online tool for social media analytics and monitoring. It provides in-depth performance data insights on the posting strategies of your company and your competitors.
Like Facebook, Twitter is also a great place to find information about competitors. Most of the Twitter data is also public, and there are many tools that can help you analyze the Twitter stream.
One tool is Twitonomy, this tool offers a number of metrics including average tweets per day and total favorites, retweets, followers, and more. It will also show you who engaged with you most often and how often you are posting messages. Plus, it will show you the same information about your competitors. You can easily see the days of the week and hours their accounts were most active, what they posted, retweeted, and so on.
It will also show you “Hashtags most used,” and when you find the hashtags they are using, you can start tracking everything your competitors post. One of the best tools for tracking is Hootsuite. Hootsuite will allow you to set up streams focusing on specific hashtags and create a dashboard from which you can easily monitor your competition.
If you do not want to buy a tool for tracking the competition, you can just create a private list on your Twitter. Just select “List” from your “Profile and Settings” and click on “Create new list.” Chose a name for your list and set it to private so you are not sharing it with the world. Add your competitors Twitter accounts to the list. When you can click on the list, you will see your competitors tweets and retweets only.
SimilarWeb is a competitive analytics-monitoring tool that will give you an overview of your company and a benchmark against your competitors, reveal their online strategies, provide data on traffic sources, top content, and social mentions, and help you find new leads and see trends.
Monitoring competitors’ Facebook posts, tweets, blog posts, and other sources of content is a very easy way to learn about them, and with little investment, you can set up everything to work automatically.
When you learned which posts are not working for your competitors, you can start using only those that worked. This strategy will save you time and money and give you the advantage that you are looking for, especially when most recruiters are not analyzing their social activities. With right strategy, you will always know what your competitors are up to.
4. Develop More Effective Strategies Using the Knowledge You Have Gathered
The fact that you have a different strategy from your competitors does not give you any advantage. Getting ahead in the market means constantly revisiting and revising your strategy to accommodate new learning outcomes. Be realistic; there is simply no way you can have an effective recruitment approach if your staff are not innovative.
An effective recruitment approach will require modifying your existing approach or overhauling it in favor of a new approach. When you do this, make sure to quantify the impact of having a competitive advantage in money so that you know if your strategy is actually giving you an advantage.
5. Predict the Future Plans of Your Competitors
If your aim is to lead the market and maintain this lead, then you must understand that knowing what your competitors are doing today is not enough. You must be able to predict fairly what their plans are likely to be in future. Monitoring them will help you understand them better, identify their strategies and weak spots, and get better insights into the audiences they are trying to target.
6. Introduce Competitive Analysis Learning into Your Job Interviews
If you want to learn about your competitors’ hiring plans, interview at least one of your competitors’ candidates. You should lead the interview so that the candidate inadvertently provides information about competition and their hiring processes.
If you take the time to study and understand what your competitors are sharing, how they are working, and what their future plans might be, this investment could repay you in ways you might never have expected and give you the right advantage against your competition that you are looking for.
It was Sun Tzu who wrote in The Art of War, “If you know both yourself and your enemy, you will prevail in a hundred battles.”