Competitive intelligence means keeping track of the competition. Often, that means looking at what competing companies are producing or discussing, through social media, presentations at industry events, press releases, product launches, etc.
But it’s important to look beyond the “what” and take note of the “who”. Personnel changes, at any level, can have meaningful implications. By tracking who’s hiring who, and who’s being let go by your competition, your business can gain valuable insights about the future of individual competitors, and your industry space as a whole.
Some signals to watch out for include:
- Departments expanding or reducing staff: Employee turnover is part of doing business, but major expansions or staffing cuts to a certain department or business unit can have larger implications for your competitor’s business. Look for similar positions being offered across multiple locations, or several similarly worded postings going up at the same time. These can be indicators that your competition is getting ready to expand. On the other hand, staff reductions across the board or in a certain department can indicate that business is slowing, or that the department affected is about to be restructured or absorbed.
- Organizational shifts: Moving talent around or hiring new faces to accommodate new business goals is a common signal that something big is happening. That means that it’s telling if your competition starts beefing up its marketing team or slimming down its product development division. Keeping tabs on these movements over time can be telling.
- Geographic trends: Knowing where your competition is hiring can be just as useful as knowing who they’re hiring. A sudden spate of job postings in a certain state or country could indicate that your competition is shifting resources, refocusing, or planning an expansion in that territory. Firings or layoffs in a certain area can have similar implications.
In order to recognize these indicators, it’s important to have a broad, ongoing sense of your competitions’ hiring and firing practices. That means checking all available job posting sources on a regular basis, to get a baseline sense of the competition’s turnover rate. Plenty of these sources are publicly available, if you have the time and resources to monitor them. A few of the best include:
- Indeed: One of the best sources for finding competitors’ job postings is Indeed.com. Indeed started out as a virtual bulletin board connecting job seekers with hiring managers, and today it hosts one of the web’s largest troves of job listings. Businesses large and small use Indeed to post job openings, from entry-level positions across the country to executive-level gigs.
- Corporate Job Postings: Many large companies host their own internal job listings. If you know where to dig up these hiring pages, keeping an eye on them over time can reveal valuable insights.
- TheLayoff: On the other end of the spectrum, employee firings and layoffs can also be telling. TheLayoff.com provides company-specific boards that allow employees (current and past) to weigh in on the company’s current mood and future outlook. This type of unfiltered information can reveal hidden gems, like a rumored layoffs or restructuring plans, before they’re made public.
- LinkedIn: If you’re searching for more granular details, LinkedIn is the place to look. In addition to job postings, it can be used to determine how many employees currently work in a particular department or location.
- News Stories: It may seem obvious to some, but major personnel changes can be big news. Local news outlets will often cover layoffs and job fairs when they relate to major local employers.