As companies invest in new products, launch marketing campaigns, establish partnerships and roll out other initiatives to increase their competitiveness, they leave a trail of online clues about their intentions. Savvy decision-makers will use clues like competitive hiring data to their advantage.
The Data Breakdown
In 2013, Meltwater undertook a project to investigate what competitive intelligence could be extracted from job postings. The team analysed data from all job postings available on LinkedIn from 15 September to 15 October 2013 for Meltwater and three adjacent companies in their industry: Cision, Vocus and LexisNexis. They broke the data down by location, job type and required experience.
Rate of Growth
There was a striking difference in growth rates. Meltwater, Cision and Vocus were all about the same size at the time, but Meltwater had more than twice the number of job openings, indicating significantly stronger growth. LexisNexis was about twenty times the size of Meltwater, but had a comparable amount of published job postings, indicating significantly slower growth.
Studying the job postings by geography revealed very different market approaches. Cision was clearly US‑ centric. Vocus also had most of its job openings in the US but had a few in the Philippines – at first a surprise, but it was later revealed that Vocus offshored some lower-level work to the Philippines to reduce costs.
Two-thirds of job openings at LexisNexis were in the US, with the rest in Australia, Canada and Hong Kong – all English-speaking markets. Meltwater had a distinctly different pattern. Its biggest single country of hiring was the US, but otherwise recruitment was very international, with openings across Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Singapore and the UK. Looking at the data, Meltwater was clearly more global in its approach than its peers.
Evaluating the types of job openings uncovered further insight. The majority of openings in Meltwater, Vocus and Cision were in sales and marketing – 80%, 80% and 60% respectively – whereas LexisNexis lagged behind with 44%. Meltwater’s focus on growth was evident – it had roughly as many openings in sales and marketing as the rest of the group combined.
Examining investment in engineering, the order was reversed. LexisNexis had as many openings in engineering as the rest of the group, signalling investments in new products.
Looking at experience level, Vocus and Cision both hired evenly across all levels. Meltwater primarily hired entry-level people, whereas LexisNexis recruited almost exclusively at mid-to senior level.
Combining the data on LexisNexis’s focus on senior hires alongside product investment indicated that changes were on their way. It was later confirmed that LexisNexis was developing a strategic company wide new technology platform powering all its future content products.
This study was based on very limited data and represented only a single snapshot at a particular point in time. That said, this data snapshot tells a fascinating tale about four very different companies and their outlook. The value of job postings doesn’t stop with competitive intelligence. Imagine if you also analysed the job postings of key clients, important vendors and other important stakeholders in your ecosystem. Used in a systematic and rigorous fashion, job postings can help you understand your competition, which clients you should invest in, which suppliers to choose and which companies to partner with.