Competitive Intelligence: An Opportunity to Move Beyond Talent Acquisition_

Before the COVID-19 pandemic it was in vogue for businesses to use a Talent Acquisition (TA) model to identify, attract and preserve capable staff.  TA, a long-term approach which used data from external sources to inform long-term employee attainment and lifespan strategies, was the new and exciting trend in “elevated recruitment.”  Many companies charged their HR leadership with framing recruitment and retention as TA initiatives.


However, in practice TA strategies often fell short, and after the pandemic, fell off.  Some blamed this collapse on TA’s novelty and companies’ confusion about how to implement it.  This uncertainty only increased in a post-pandemic world where many hallmark business approaches no longer produced results.  Others claimed TA’s implementation left out critical stakeholders whose buy-in was necessary for its success.  Academic and professional organizations through which companies historically identified potential staff either shut down or stopped operating at full capacity. Venues for meeting and engaging junior or mid-career hires transitioned to virtual platforms or slowed/stopped hosting events.  Even previously strong professional networks fragmented as the regularity of planned and unstructured interactions reduced.  As a result, TA alone no longer generated predictively moderate-strong outcomes and left many companies with a skill bankruptcy. This combined with labor shortages spelled misfortune for companies using an exclusively TA approach.


On a positive front, other and better business strategies are out there.  In fact, the answer to the “TA only” conundrum exists, and it is to replace this approach with a more comprehensive and fully centralized intelligence policy.  This broad Competitive Intelligence (CI) approach is not new, but has been oft dismissed as its integration into all externally-facing business units was considered too difficult, especially when compared to the less challenging and acceptably suitable piecemeal approach.  To be clear  CI – as opposed to talent intelligence (TI)-  is an all-encompassing strategy for leveraging external data to improve all business functions, not just recruitment and retention.   TI collects and analyzes data based only a competitors’ faculty, expertise, and jobs functions. Alternatively, CI uses every aspect of a company’s microsystem and ecosystem to gather data for strategic business impact and a competitive edge.  It sharpens the purpose of each level of value production from the HR elements to the business development staff to the salespeople and integrates them such that each company component helps each other. 

Given a strong, integrated and well-functioning CI program clearly exceeds the impact scope produced by TA – and given TA’s reduced capacity to produce results in our more capricious post COVID-19 world, one would think businesses would be pursuing it with open arms.  However, many companies are frozen in place, worrying pursuit of a CI strategy will be too arduous or costly to build.


These companies would benefit in viewing the current TA challenge as an opportunity to foster a better business across the board with a comprehensive CI program.  Indeed, companies which leverage CI well will be the champions in their industries, and better positioned to secure not only talent, but customers, sales and market dominance.



Author section


Stephanie Grey is a Digital Marketing Manager overseeing search marketing for Adapt Intelligence. She has spent eight years developing and implementing campaigns in management consulting and technology services, and consultants with Charlotte small businesses on ways to attract more customers online.

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