3 Things to Focus on When Conducting a Talent Brand Competitive Audit

Over the past few years we’ve seen an almost unquenchable thirst for big data. That’s because implementing a data-driven recruitment marketing strategy has made it easier for companies to realize greater returns (awareness, applications, and hires) from their efforts. And today, there are a vast array of choices you have in collecting this information, including implementing technology platforms, or getting it from your media partners, agencies, or your own ATS.

But while assigning appropriate metrics and understanding the data will be an amazing help in knowing where to recruit and what to spend, you still need to consider what to say.

And that’s where companies of all sizes can glean valuable rewards through conducting a competitive audit.

Quite simply, a competitive audit is just what it sounds like. It means taking a look at who you compete with for talent, and doing an audit of their recruitment marketing efforts, assets, and accolades.

There are quite a number of benefits you’ll realize from having a competitive audit performed. A competitive audit will not only enable you to look at the employment marketplace through the lens of a candidate but show you more about who your competition is looking to attract, and what they are saying and selling to attract them. It will also help to confirm that you’re doing a great job at your own talent branding efforts, or provide you with valuable insights about how to better compete. 

Who Do You Look At?

Choose wisely. Your competition for talent may be different from who you think it is. If you’re a health care system looking for nurses, your competition would certainly include other health-care organizations. But if your health-care organization is also embarking upon a major technology transformation, then the companies you’re competing with for talent could include tech startups, social networks, or just about any other company you can think of.

And while you might be tempted to look at only those organizations that are within a commutable distance to your own, look beyond local, particularly if you’re open to a remote workplace. You’ll find a vast array of regional nuances, especially if you’re conducting your competitive audit on a global scale. By including some of the big-name players outside of your market you may get insights into some emerging trends you can jump on to get ahead of the recruiting curve. 

What Do You Look At?

Start from the job seeker’s perspective. Statistics show that the company career site is first place a candidate will go to do their research, so that’s where you should begin your sleuthing. And, since a competitive audit should also measure the candidate experience, look at your competitor’s efforts with an unbiased eye. Is the information presented in a way that garners interest? Did you have easy access to the content you were interested in? Did the visuals bring the culture to life and help you decide if you would be a good fit? Did you find everything you were looking for?

What are other people saying about them? How are they ranked on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Linkedin, and how their products and/or services are ranked on consumer rating sites like Google, Amazon, or TripAdvisor? Have they won awards for their workplace, and if so, is that something that would make them a more attractive employer than your firm?

Check out their social footprint as well. Are they present across the same social channels as you are? And do they have dedicated sites for their career opportunities, or is their social presence mainly just consumer-facing?

Jobvite’s 2017 Job Seeker Nation Study revealed that younger job seekers are more than twice as likely to research companies via Instagram over LinkedIn. Knowing stats like that will also help you judge your competitors’ social efforts by how they’re meeting the needs of the audience they’re looking to engage, including veterans, interns, and diverse candidates.

What to Look for

Authentic Messaging. Messaging is not only what you say, but how you say it. It’s the storytelling behind the culture. Assess whether your competition is presenting their culture in a way that allows people to feel it, believe it, and want to be part of it. Have they used a variety of engaging methods such as videos, podcasts, or employee testimonials or spotlights?

Did your competitors have a unique employer value proposition and if so, was it aligned with what people were saying about them? Did they have a good balance of “give” to “ask” — that is the number of posts dedicated to sharing content vs asking for an action to be taken. Was there a good level of audience engagement in the form of sharing and comments?

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Differentiation. Not only is differentiation the hallmark of any great product, person, or service, but it’s actually a benchmark we use in-house when evaluating the efforts of any talent branding initiative. That’s because having a differentiation strategy and positioning yourselves as an employer of choice is critical to a successful recruitment marketing outcome.

Featuring your talent brand positioning and EVP against those of your competitors will allow you to quickly gauge how good a job you’ve done at differentiating your culture, career opportunities, benefits, or company from your direct (or indirect) competition. You’ll also get a sense for where the white space is — the area of opportunity that you can honestly occupy to stand out from the pack.

If you’re looking more great information about how to create a talent brand, be sure to tune into my upcoming ERE Webinar.

Jody Ordioni

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.