Defining Your Competitive Advantage
Employers need to be prepared for a tight labor market continuing into 2019. Although numbers tied to job openings vs. unemployed persons have varied slightly over the last several months, we continue to see a trend of more job openings than we have available talent to fill them. As a result, organizations will need to continue to find ways to set themselves apart in order to remain competitive.
What makes your organization stand out amongst all others? Is it the culture and working environment? An abundance of professional growth opportunities? Your compensation and benefits package? While you may have a general sense about what makes your organization unique or compelling, the real key is to identify and share specifically what you offer that differs from other places. Knowing in detail why your current staff choose to continue working with you, and being able to explain those enticements, makes prospective candidates more likely to consider opportunities with your organization. By defining your value proposition, you are naming your competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.
In order to identify (or redefine) your organization’s value proposition, you must understand the current lived experiences of your staff. Most organizations inaccurately define this by naming their aspirations and sharing their ideal norms – e.g. everyone leaves the office by 5:00 p.m. every day and we never work on the weekends, or we dress casually Monday through Friday, or our organizational leadership has an open-door policy, etc. This leads to candidates being wooed based on what you hope their lived experiences will be versus what you know it will be.
In order to effectively articulate your competitive advantage, ask your team (at all levels in the organization!) and get their perspective to better understand the following:
What brought you here initially?
What keeps you here?
What surprised you the most when you joined our organization?
Is there anything you might change about our culture or way of working together?
What would influence your decision to stay here long-term?
What three words do you believe best describe our organization?
Once these things are codified, develop your value proposition and key messages. It will be critical to routinely regroup to test and reconfirm messaging with the team. It should resonate with current staff and, more essential, candidates should see key messages brought to life during their recruitment process (e.g. meetings start on time, everyone is smiling and offering a personal greeting, etc.). Specifically, the day-to-day working environment should be brought to life during their in-person interview. This will set the tone that what’s being advertised is authentic and real. Both you and the candidate will make an informed decision, thereby setting the stage for a successful, long-term partnership going forward. What is YOUR competitive advantage?