While real-time labor market information is useful for many things, one of the less utilized is competitive intelligence. A company’s hiring says a lot about what it does – and about its plans. If you’re going to sell a subsidiary, launch a new line of business or if you’re having trouble, there’s a good chance your hiring patterns are going to serve as a “tell.”

Not long ago, gaining competitive intelligence by combing through job postings and finding patterns – finding the “tell” — would once have been laborious and expensive. But now that real-time labor market information is available through dashboard products for both the Education institutions and Corporations, competitive intelligence analysts and institutional researchers can gain insight into how other firms are hiring—and even how competitors define similar jobs.

In the article How to Guide Workforce Transition Efforts in Advanced Manufacturing, we discussed how workforce transition to advanced manufacturing isn’t just about upgrading technology; it’s about upgrading people.  In the article, we discussed differences in the skills required for a mechanical engineer between a traditional manufacturer and an advanced manufacturer.

From a competitive standpoint, analysts can study the differences for competitive advantage.   For example, in the article Do you have the computer skills talent base to compete?, we showed that Tesla and GM target skills they specifically want those engineers to have coming in as new employees..

For Tesla, the number one skill sought in mechanical engineers is for CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application), a CAD system that serves as the cornerstone of the Dassault Systèmes software suite. For GM it’s validation, which involves checking to make sure that software is bug-free and ready to rock and roll.

More significantly, both companies emphasize different production skills. Tesla puts a much higher value on product development skills. The electric car company mentions product development in 17% of its mechanical engineer postings, compared to 20% at GM. The top 10 list at Tesla also includes mechanical design, product design, and 3D modeling, all skills that make sense at a firm trying to bring new products to market.

GM, on the other hand, emphasizes classic engineering skills: electrical engineering, engineering support, systems engineering. GM is also more like to ask for basic skills like Microsoft Excel. Spreadsheets are vital in just about any organization but in this case, it doesn’t break into Tesla’s top 10.

Some of this may be the natural difference between a “unicorn” company and one of the best-known names in U.S. industry. But from the comparison, you can tell a lot about how the two companies approach problems and what they’re working on. That may be crucial in determining how to compete and recruit—for either company.

Competitive intelligence: mechanical engineers at Tesla vs GM

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