THE BLOG

Using Competitive Intelligence to Land a Job, as Told by a Former Insider within the CI Unit for a Fortune 500 Firm

07/24/2014 07:40 pm ET | Updated Sep 23, 2014
  • Melissa Llarena President of www.CareerOutcomesMatter.com. Trusted Coach. Interview Whisperer. Career Strategist. Tot+Twin Mom.

Competitive intelligence spend is increasing among organizations on the rise. It's proven to gain an edge on competitors, but it is not just for Fortune 500 firms. I've prepared career-coaching clients for arduous interview processes with principles I used while working in a Fortune 500 financial-services firm early in my career. This has led my clients to land opportunities within the financial services, pharmaceutical, and retail sectors in record times--many in less than 90 days. My approach's idea is that it's essential to empower clients with a better sense of how they stack up against a company's earlier hires--this is the Holy Grail of securing more productive results.

So what's competitive intelligence?

Basically, it means gathering information from competitors, then analyzing that info to reach a decision, according to Leonard Fuld, president of competitive intelligence and research firm Fuld & Company. In the case of job candidates, it all begins by framing an efficient analysis. To speed up this step, I have created The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM) to help professionals prioritize relevant data, enabling them to quickly put these findings to use as part of their overarching job-hunt campaign.

Let's start the analysis with the job description.

1. Critically think through the job description.

Apply critical-thinking skills to uncover overarching themes. See my sample job description for a job in the pharmaceutical sector, which happens to be a top spender in CI resources. Let's use their proven strategy to make our way into the industry. I will use this job to illustrate drawing the right conclusions based on what hiring managers really want.

I color coded lines in the job description to show what informed my assessment of the five key areas job candidates represented.

  • Blue lines support the need for exhibiting strong financial analytical skills.
  • Purple lines call for compelling negotiation skills.
  • Yellow lines show the need for cross-functional work.
  • Green ones call for swift critical-thinking skills. [SIDE NOTE: This sentence stands out in the job description, as I am inferring that it's a core skill not to be neglected.]
  • In gray, I've highlighted the requirement of relevant industry experience.

Now, figure out how you'll exceed expectations across these five points. Find professionals on LinkedIn who have been evaluated with the same interview frameworks, and ideally by people you will be meeting. This is where your CI sleuthing skills come into play.

Goal: Find current or former AbbVie employees on LinkedIn who worked on licensing assignments. [SIDE NOTE: AbbVie used to be called Abbott.]

2. Evaluate the right people. i.e., prior successful job candidates.

The greatest challenge will be finding licensing-assignment professionals with meaty LinkedIn profiles. As a result, finding the right people while using my The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM) is partly an art.

The folks who popped up had meager LinkedIn profiles, so I considered senior professionals over senior managers. I honed in on Chicago-based employees--it's critical that a job candidate find professionals working in the same office in which they are interviewing. Specifically, I searched LinkedIn using the words "licensing" and "Abbott." Later, I clicked "People Also Viewed," after which I found two data gems: the director of business development and licensing at Abbott Molecular Inc., as well as the director of licensing and acquisitions at Abbott Laboratories in the Medical Devices business unit. I chose "Director Molecular" because he could end up being my boss, or at the latest a cross-functional partner. Also, his qualifications read straight out of the job description, from his international experience to his extensive negotiations experience. I also opted to review the "Director Medical Devices" because his powerhouse analytical skills were what I can aspire to bring to the table.

3. Benchmark yourself against prior successful job candidates - Once you've found two to three professionals, start your analysis leveraging the The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM).

Within the The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM), I incorporated Director Molecular and Director Medical Devices in the B and C columns, respectively. I then reviewed their experience sections. I listed evidence I found based on former jobs that tied back to the five job requirements noted earlier. For example, one experience Director Molecular shared on LinkedIn that talked to his negotiation skills was "negotiating and closing new product licensing opportunities that meet TAP's strategic and financial objectives." Given that data, I thought about what I had potentially done that would be comparable or more impressive. Using a fictitious set of experiences, I noted that I negotiated licensing opportunities for CVS. Do the same exercise for each of the five key requirements and include information for both directors as well as your own. In my sample The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM), I started the process for you.

Once you have completed your own The Winning Benchmarking Matrix (TM), you should have a strong sense of what you bring to the table.

Some ways to use the resultant data include:

  • Incorporating the five key job requirements within your marketing materials.
  • Crafting interview-ready stories that address each point. See STAR Method.
  • Peppering relevant examples from your matrix into your elevator pitch.

As an aside, this assignment will also help you see where you fall short. I spend 75 percent of my career-coaching sessions with clients on this area. Together, we figure out ways to strategically mitigate the skills or experiences that can delay the interview process, stifle it, or make it nonexistent. If you want to start the process of gathering intelligence to benchmark yourself, then let's connect via careeroutcomesmatter.com.