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Nov 30, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

At SourceCon Anaheim this year, Shannon Pritchett talked about the persona of the audience that completed the State of Sourcing Survey for 2016.

Meet Judy: She is a full-time corporate recruiter in the telecommunications industry with four years of experience. She lives in a major metropolitan area and earns an annual salary of roughly $51,000-$60,000. At any given time, Judy has 10-11 requisitions open. She fills more than 121 positions each year.

Prior to sourcing, Judy spends approximately 30 minutes meeting with the hiring manager during each intake session. She spends an additional 20 minutes gathering competitive and marketing intelligence. She will then spend another 50 minutes preparing to source for her open position.

Pritchett posed the question, “does Judy use her time wisely?” and my knee-jerk response was no,  primarily because Judy spends just 20 minutes gathering competitive and market intelligence. Now, if Judy worked on the same positions in the same market day in and day out, this might be enough time to gather information and learn about the market and competitors; however, this is not the usual case in recruiting.

So how much is enough? In just 20 minutes, is it possible to learn and understand your client’s business and how they stack up against competitors? Can you accumulate enough of an understanding as to what is happening in the industry as a whole, as well as the competitors’ business changes/drivers, the demographic market, talent supply/demand, the cost of living to ensure compensation is accurate, and everything else that goes into market research and competitor analysis? Probably not. Doing your due diligence up front to understand the market in which you are recruiting is instrumental to success.

So where do you start – and how do you continuously keep your finger on the pulse of your client’s industry? Below, I’ve listed a variety of ways that can help. If you conduct even a fraction of the market research suggested below, you will ultimately be better prepared to dazzle your hiring manager with your knowledge and entice the right candidates for your opportunity.


  • Demographics – Population, Geography, Commute Patterns, Unemployment Rate
    • Sites like provide a comprehensive look at the demographics of various cities. Discover which cities are commutable for your job to help broaden your sourcing reach. See the median household income for the region in which you are recruiting. The site will also tell you the daytime population change due to commuting so you can identify if people are driving in or out of the area for work. It also lists the average travel time to work and popular modes of transportation.  You can also discover the most common industries and occupations, as well as the unemployment rate. All of these details can help you better understand the environment your target candidates are living in.
  • Cost of Living – Income per Capital, Home Costs, Overall Cost of Living
    • My favorite site to use for this is To sell your opportunity, you need to know how much people make in the region and the specific occupation, and how that compares with the cost of living in a particular city.  For example, some people in my area commute more than an hour to Ann Arbor, Michigan to work, but live in Sylvania, Ohio because the cost of living is less.
  • Talent Supply/Demand – Jobs Posted vs. Active Candidates
    • This shows how many qualified candidates are in a certain market compared to how many companies are hiring for the same type of talent in that market. Low supply and high demand equal difficult recruiting. How should you adjust your strategy in this environment?  On the flip side, high supply and low demand may equal a larger volume of applicants to dig through. You should go into your intake conversation with your hiring manager armed with this information and a plan for adjusting your sourcing strategy. A few of my favorite sites for this type of data Include:
    • Talentstream
    • TalentNeuron
  • Job Posting Titles
    • What other titles might companies use for this position? Use sites like Indeed to research job postings to help you identify additional keywords and job titles to use in your searches.
  • Direct Competitors
    • Who are your client’s direct competitors in the target geographical market?
    • Who are your client’s direct competitors nationwide?
    • What is the culture and brand of your client’s competitors and how does it compare to your client?
  • Functional Competitors
    • What other companies in the geographic market hire talent with the skill set you seek? Are there companies that don’t compete in your industry but have talent with transferrable skills?
  • Compensation Reports – Show me the Money!
  • RSS Feeds/News Group Updates on Competitors
    • The best way to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry is to set up RSS feeds or news alerts for your competitors and specific keywords like lays-off, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, etc.
  • WARN Lists
    • The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act is a labor law that requires employers to provide written notice at least 60 days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. A WARN notice is required when a business with more than 100 full-time workers is laying off at least 50 people at a single site of employment, or employs 100 or more workers with at least a combined 4,000 hours per week, and is a private for-profit business, private non-profit organization or quasi-public entity separately organized from regular government. Each state maintains their own WARN lists; click here for additional regulation information and resources.
    • This is an excellent resource to ensure you capture talent that has recently been displaced. In the past, I would contact a company’s HR department and let them know that I had jobs available for specific skill sets of their displaced workers and look to them to help me make the connections.
  • Colleges/Universities
    • What are the top schools that graduate the type of candidates you seek? How can you better partner with those schools to target recent graduates and alumni? Are there alumni groups on Facebook? Are there alumni meetups where you could network?


There is an age-old saying: “knowledge is power.” And it holds true in the recruitment environment. If you take the time up front to understand the industry and market you are recruiting in, you will be much more successful.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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