It’s a small world. For some highly specialised contractors, it’s an extremely small world. Whether you’re one of a few highly skilled niche contractors in the UK or a contractor with a lot of competition to deal with, there are things you can learn from your competitors.
The contracting world can be a tough one, one day you’re in demand, the next you could be out of work for a few months or even need to up-skill in order to progress.
But often when the chips are down and you’re losing contracts to similarly skilled competitors there are common reasons. In this blog we take a look at these reasons and help you learn what you can from your competitors to benefit your business.
Start With CVs
If you have the chance to get hold of the CVs of your competitors, you might learn a lot about them and yourself. Perhaps they are adding basic skills you didn’t think of adding to your own. Maybe there’s a trend for shorter more concise CVs in your arena or maybe you’re providing a lot less information than your competitors. Even little details like the layout and styling. Compare your CV with a large number of your competitors and see if you can make improvements to bring your CV in-line with the competition.
You can sometimes access CVs that are posted onto job boards, have a look around for examples.
If you can’t find competitor CV examples, try LinkedIn. Almost every professional has a LinkedIn account these days. And if you’re in the contracting business, where it’s likely you’ll be on the look-out for work on a regular basis, it’s likely your LinkedIn and your competitors LinkedIn profiles will be up-to-date and filled with relevant material.
The information you can use from your competitors CV or LinkedIn profile can be really valuable – especially if you have an idea that their success rate at winning contracts might be better than yours. Is it that they’re more highly qualified or experienced in certain areas, or are they showing off their success stats more than you do? Could you complete additional qualifications or certifications to give your CV an edge over theirs in the future?
Stalk Them On LinkedIn
As previously mentioned, if you’re in the contracting business, it’s important for you to keep your LinkedIn profile updated and interesting to potential employers. But you can learn a lot from a competitors LinkedIn profile.
Not all potential employers will check out contractor’s LinkedIn profiles, but some do. In addition some may use connections on LinkedIn to facilitate an easy introduction and vice versa.
If your competitor has far more industry-relevant contacts than you do on LinkedIn then maybe it’s time to start networking.
You can also find out which LinkedIn groups your competitors might be active on and join in the conversation.
Finally, have they been collecting LinkedIn recommendations? If so, then you should make sure yours are just as strong as theirs. Speak to previous employers and politely request they leave you a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.
Do They Have A Website?
Do a quick Google search to see if a few of your key competitors have their own websites. As a contractor, having your own online presence is ideal. If you don’t have a website, essentially a digital business card, then think about investing in one.
If your competitors have websites, analyse what’s on them. Are they writing a blog that’s getting shared around the industry – meaning their name is out there while yours isn’t? Are they listing successful statistics and sharing quotes from happy clients? Are they proving more here than they could do on a CV?
If they do have a website, you may be able to ascertain if they are applying for contracts or being head-hunted for contracts.
What About A Wider Digital Presence?
If they do have an online presence, be it on a website, social media or blog, what are they saying and doing? Try to figure out what activities they are undertaking to successfully market themselves. Are they writing regular features for an online publication, are they advertising their services anywhere, are they putting in serious hours on Twitter to ensure they’re the go-to person for their (and your) niche area.
Finally, Try Talking To Them
It’s business, not war. You can actually talk to your competitors. Especially if you work in a niche area, it’s likely your paths will cross at times and you might even get the chance to work together on a project at some point.
You’ll have plenty in common but also a lot of differences and it’s likely you can each teach the other a lot to make you both more well-rounded professionals.
We believe competition is a great thing, as long as you see it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Without competition any business would struggle to innovate, so seek out your competition and use it to your advantage.