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A Survey of CI Practices by Senior Internal Recruiters

Creating Some Early WCI Benchmarks

Workforce Competitive Intelligence™ (WCI) is the effective application of competitive intelligence practices within the human capital function of the company. As you will see in the survey results below, only a relative handful of America's leading companies take full advantage of this rich opportunity to gain fresh, actionable, relevant intelligence about their competitive landscape.

There is as yet a scarcity of research about CI-HR collaborative practices in corporations. To help fill this void, RivalScape conducted two original small-scale surveys in 2004:

  • A written survey of senior corporate recruiting officers, reported below
  • A telephone survey of corporate CI officers at best-of-breed talent management companies, also reported on this site

We intend to conduct more benchmark and follow-up surveys about this emerging field in the future. We publish our survey results and commentary on this website with the hope that those interested in the field will benefit.

Survey Results: Corporate Recruiters and Competitive Intelligence

On June 9, 2004, RivalScape consultants presented to a group of 50 senior corporate recruiting officers from very large companies who gather regularly to discuss best practices. The topic was "workforce competitive intelligence" and how it can benefit an internal corporate HR or recruiting function.

Before we began our presentation, we conducted a paper and pencil survey of the attendees to gauge the group's current level of sophistication with competitive intelligence. The responses were anonymous, and were tabulated and presented to the participants at the end of the presentation.

Later, we cross-tabbed the responses to develop a deeper insight. These results were shared with the participants by email.

We provide below the survey questions, raw percentage responses, and RivalScape analysis of the survey results.


1: Does your company have a formal process, an informal process or no process that routinely captures the marketplace knowledge that resides within your internal recruiting staff?




Comments: The internal recruiting staff presents a golden opportunity to become more savvy about the external environment. Yet a surprisingly large majority of these senior recruiting officers are completely missing out on this ripe intelligence resource. Ten percent indicated that they do talk to internal recruiters about competitors, but only on an ad hoc basis. That group would greatly benefit by making the process more systematic, routinized and focused.

2: Do you have a formal process in your company that identifies, analyzes and possibly interviews competitor employees who have applied through your applicant tracking system?

YES: 14 %

NO: 86 %

Comments: Wouldn't it make sense to at least be aware of your competitors' employees who have expressed an interest in working for your company? What trends are appearing? Do you see a mass exodus of IT staff from your competitor, for example? What does this say about the technology direction of the firm? As our Richard Horowitz Interview points out, there's nothing inherently wrong in talking about the competitive landscape with employees at other companies. As long as there is no deceptive "rusing" going on (see Fordyce Letter article on this site), nor any attempt to induce the employee to violate an NDA, you're on solid ground to learn what you can from these encounters.

3: Do you have a formal process in your company that identifies, contacts and interviews newly-hired employees who have come from critical positions at competitors?

YES: 32 %

NO: 68 %

Comments: About one third of the group engages in this valuable competitor alumni interviewing process. But the cross-tab here yielded an interesting fact: The large majority of those senior recruiters who answered YES and are conducting this valuable CI activity have never worked with or even coordinated these activities with their internal CI unit! This is a situation that cries out for "silo busting," as the intelligence value of this type of information could be greatly increased with the CI unit's involvement.

4: Do you have a formal process in your company that maintains an up-to-date talent inventory of critical positions at your competitors?

YES: 4 %

NO: 96 %

Comments: This appears to be virtually unexplored territory for senior corporate recruiting officers. And that's a pity, because the competitive knowledge derived is valuable not only from a recruiting standpoint, but equally from a corporate strategy perspective. After cross-tabulating, we saw that the two companies who answered YES to this question are quite sophisticated in terms of other workforce competitive intelligence activities as well. No surprise there!

5: Do you have a Competitive Intelligence (CI) unit at your firm?

YES: 44 %

NO: 40 %


Comments: Here's yet another big opportunity area for senior corporate recruiting officers. First of all, if you don't know whether or not your company has a CI function, find out! And if you do, get together. A simple chat to discuss possibilities of collaboration on competitive workforce issues could yield tangible benefits for both functions. And if your company does not have an in-house competitive intelligence activity, perhaps HR should take the initiative and bring the power of CI to the company by starting a Workforce Competitive Intelligence™ program.

6: Of those who said YES to Q 5, have you ever worked with or coordinated with this CI unit in any way?

YES: 58 %

NO: 42 %

Comments: Even among senior corporate recruiters who know they have a CI unit at their firm, almost half do not interact with them. Again, our recommendation is to get these people together; make your CI unit part of the personal internal network for every senior corporate recruiting officer.

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