As we all know, businesses are only as good as their people. Working in employer brand I know how hard businesses are working to attract the best people, especially in such competitive times for talent attraction. There's a number of ways to ensure you're competing as effectively as you can. Auditing your own employer brand as objectively as possible is vital, and it's important to audit the technology you use for talent attraction. What's equally as important, however, is to make sure you are taking a long hard look at your competition, and audit your performance as an employer in comparison to theirs.

Usually, in any market place, you will have 'top of mind' commercial competitors, but these aren't always exclusively your talent competitors, so be sure to benchmark against the usual suspects as well as any company hiring the same talent in the same places at the same level as you -- that's who you're really up against when it comes to talent attraction and retention. So let's dive in and look at five ways to benchmark yourself and learn from your competition.

1. Are your competitors perceived to be better employers than you?

What are people saying about being employed by your competitors? Check out Glassdoor reviews to see what people are saying. You'll get some great insight, and there might just be something that you do better -- or could do better -- that addresses a pain point your competitors' employees have flagged up.

2. How strong is your competitors' employer brand, positioning, messaging, reach and visibility?

Be sure to check out your competitors' employer brand. How are they positioning themselves to attract talent? What's their key messaging and how are they communicating it? Is there messaging consistent and clear? How are they communicating to the personas that you need to attract, and how can you do better?

Are there channels they're not using that you can use to gain an advantage and be seen by the eyes that matter to you. We helped a client recruit by creating and sharing Facebook content targeted to the personas' partner and spouses, knowing they'd be passed on to the people we needed to attract.

3. Are your competitors making better use of technology?

Look into the tech that your competitors are using and see how it measures up against your own. Maybe there's something they're using that you're not, or maybe you can ramp up your activity with, to comfortably position yourself above them. 

How good is their careers website and how straightforward is the application process? Can candidates apply via LinkedIn or easily upload a résumé? Are they using an applicant tracking system or offering video interviews? Grab as much information as you can about the tech they're using and see what you can do better.

4. How good is your competitors' content and SEO?

In conducting your persona research, you should have identified the keywords you should be using in your content. These are crucial to appearing prominently in the searches your personas are making when considering a change of employer or first employer. What keywords are your competitors using and how are they ranking generally in your industry in career searches?  How relevant and consistent is the content they are sharing? What are they doing that you can learn from?

5. How good is your competitors' commercial candidate offer?

Last, but by no means least, make sure you pay attention to your competitors' commercial candidate offer. Are they offering a remuneration and benefits package that leaves yours in the shade? It's certainly true that money isn't the main motivator for many, but you should at least be on a par with your competitors when it comes to pay.

And make sure the other benefits you are offering are strong and relevant to the personas you are looking to attract. For example, offering a flexible working pattern, particularly to young professionals with a family may well be a deciding factor if salary levels are similar. Be guided by your persona research to offer benefits that will give you an edge.

Remember to try to keep these competitor audits concise and note only the key insights and significant information. Audit your talent attraction regularly, keep your strategy fresh and you'll get the right people joining your team.