Career center networks offer associations the ability to show more job openings and expanded career development resources for members while placing their brand in front of a wider audience of potential members. Associations that join networks have higher performing career centers and generate more revenue — by 30 percent on average. However, some associations have reservations about linking up with a career center network out of fear that their brand and their revenue opportunities will be diluted.
We spoke with Tom Aley, group vice president, software solutions at Naylor Association Solutions, to debunk myths about career center networks and explore the realities associations should expect when they link their job board to a career center network. The main concerns he hears are:
Joining a career center network will result in the network being promoted over my association:
On reputable career center networks, the member associations’ brands are promoted over the network brand, Aley emphasized. Individual career centers retain the design, colors, fonts and logos of the association behind it. When the individual association is promoted over the network, visitors trust the site more and are more likely to return. In addition, a career center network’s prioritization of association brands keeps those associations’ offerings and membership value at the forefront of visitors’ job-surfing experience.
Joining a career center network will hurt my association’s membership recruitment abilities:
Another reason good career center networks promote the associations that make it up over the network itself is so associations can continue to be viewed as the go-to resource for a particular industry or profession. When the individual association is kept front-and-center through branding and domain, visitors know which organization is providing the value they are receiving. No association loses the opportunity to convert prospects into paying members or sponsors.
Joining a career center network will decrease traffic to my association’s website:
Reputable career center networks allow an association to continue hosting their career center on their own domain. This way, visitors always know which organization(s) they are engaging with as they browse a network, and the network does not cannibalize an association’s job board traffic. Domain control also means that if a visitor bookmarks a career center, the association retains this network-provided traffic as theirs. Job postings and application pages within a good career center network are hosted on association-controlled domains so that the association doesn’t lose that valuable traffic.
Joining a career center network will dilute my association’s revenue earning potential:
Career centers earn revenue from employers who pay to have their job postings included on a career center’s job boards. Job boards gain value by having more and more people view them and apply to jobs posted on them. When linking a job board to a career center network, there’s a concern that employers who would otherwise contract with the association to post jobs will contract with the network instead, and the association will receive only a trickle of the revenue it could have earned on its own.
“With our career center networks, we look at associations wanting to join in and provide a baseline calculation of how much more they can make from their job postings and display ads through participation: By participating, your account will make X percent more,” Aley said. “This calculation gives our clients a clear picture of the benefits of participating.”
And with associations retaining domain control over their participating career center, the influx of traffic that a career center network brings will only increase the association’s ability to charge a fair market value for employer access to their job board.
While some networks offer an economy of scale that dilutes the revenue an association could otherwise receive, reputable career center networks provide incremental value commensurate with the advertising and job posting packages associations offer their employers and other sponsors.
“On average an association can expect to see a 30 percent increase in non-dues revenue after joining a Naylor network compared to operating a stand-alone career center,” Aley said.
Even within career networks that link closely related industries (e.g. healthcare networks that unite nursing, physician or PA associations), those that offer the capability to target employer ads appropriately – by individual network – still give the ROI that employers want from their investment and encourage them to continue advertising with associations.
Joining a career center will lock my association into revenue opportunities that don’t work for us:
A good career center network will permit flexibility when it comes to revenue potential. Career center networks offer job postings, display ads, site sponsorships and a combination of these for revenue earning vehicles. Most networks also offer the ability to charge employers one rate for local-only postings and a different, premium rate for network-wide postings. Member and non-member pricing is at the association’s discretion.
“You want flexibility in pricing so you can operate your association and participate in a career center network but not at the expense of membership or revenue opportunities,” Aley explained.
For regional or state associations trying to serve employers that operate on a national or international scale, these options increase the chance that associations trying to expand their reach and employers aiming to deepen theirs in any given professional or geographic area can mutually help each other.
Joining a career center network will attract website visitors who aren’t relevant:
By nature, associations are not job placement organizations but groups of people who gather to exchange ideas and become more skilled in their profession or trade. Most visitors to association online job boards are passive job seekers. They post their resume and use a career center’s resources, such as webinars or resume guides, but they aren’t actively seeking a job change until the right opportunity comes along. However, when the right opportunity surfaces, passive job seekers will act on it.
For this reason, members of an association’s career center network are better characterized as “potentially active job seekers.” More of them looped into a career center network is always good for employers because the higher the number of potentially active job seekers, the better the chance that an employer’s job posting will appeal to the right candidate. A broad pool of potentially active job seekers within the same industry offers more relevant eyeballs on a job posting no matter how many geographic lines the pool covers.
Career center networks can become too large for my smaller association to benefit:
“We do not want to keep networks small, but rather grow them large so that jobs reach a wider audience and increase job posting traffic,” Aley repeated. Associations link up with career center networks to expand the career development resources and jobs visible to their members. As long as the network is limited to related industries with postings from employers interested in hiring the association’s members, a network cannot become too large for any size association.
Although there are potential pitfalls of linking up with a career center network, the right network will allow an association to retain control over their website visitors and revenue earning options. Associations should not hesitate to link their job board or career center to a career center network because the benefits of joining a well-planned, large network that crosses geographic and industry boundaries far outweigh the concerns.