If you’ve spent any time talking with folks here at Boxwood, you may have noticed we’re passionate about the benefits that a well-executed career center program can bring to an association. And we’re not just talking about benefits from the job board portion of the career center. We’re talking about:
- Increasing your overall website traffic: For many associations, their job board is one of the most heavily visited areas of their website, and associations have other relevant programs/services they can market to job board visitors in sidebars or related links.
- Improving your website’s overall SEO (provided your job board is on your domain or a subdomain of your website). A job board adds to the number of indexed pages of your website, and a job syndication strategy of feeding jobs to social media and other outlets increases inbound links.
- Integrating the job board with your association management software (AMS) in order to recruit non-members visiting your job board.
- Promoting other career-related programs and services such as certification, training, publications, and events to increase participation and revenue across multiple departments.
Again, when we talk about a career center, we’re not just talking about the job board. We’re talking about a comprehensive program that incorporates career-enhancing resources for job seekers (i.e., how to get into the profession, how to move up in a particular field, getting certified) and talent management resources for employers (i.e., compensation surveys, staff training programs) that an association often already has developed, but may have different departments managing, and may have scattered throughout different areas of their website.
One of the most important factors determining if an association career center is “Meh.” or “Holy cow!” is whether the association’s senior management team considers the career center to be an important strategic tool for accomplishing broader association goals.
Coincidentally, in my 16 years at Boxwood, the biggest challenge we’ve seen our clients tackle is getting senior-level attention and support for turning their job boards into true, comprehensive association career centers that include the career articles, surveys, and training resources mentioned above. We’ve seen a number of associations achieve success by creating robust, comprehensive career centers. We’ve also seen many struggle to get the internal buy-in necessary to make a really awesome resource like their career center grow.
Recently, we’ve seen several clients who had strong career centers ramp things up even further. The American Hospital Association and ASAE The Center for Association Leadership both talked about the re-launch of their career centers this year on JobBoarders.com. In each case, there are many great takeaways for associations of all sizes to consider, both in terms of the process they used and the end results.
We also interviewed ASAE’s Jennifer Baker as part of our last Association Adviser webinar about the changes they made with ASAE’s new AssociationCareerHQ.org. Jennifer made some important points about how to turn a career center into a more robust member resource, regardless of your association’s size:
- Take steps to get senior management’s attention. If the career center is one of your site’s top traffic generators (as it often is), make sure your execs know that and share ideas for how to leverage that traffic.
- Keep senior staff updated about the job board’s revenue generation. If it’s growing, see if they are interested in accelerating that growth. If it’s stagnant or declining, see if you can engage them on ways to turn that around.
- Talk to colleagues in other parts of your association about how the career center can support their initiatives (membership growth, event attendance, certification enrollments, etc.). The more people who see how the career center can help, the more champions to help expand it.
I’m optimistic that AHA, ASAE, and other organizations that are making similar changes to their career centers means we’re seeing a shift in how senior association executives view the potential of their career centers. If there’s one thing associations have the perfect opportunity to be known for, it’s being the go-to resource for career-related programs and services in their profession.
For more on being a life-long career resource for your members, see our exclusive interview with APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi.
Carrie McIntyre is the senior director for new business development at Boxwood Career Solutions. Carrie joined Boxwood in 1999 after working in membership and marketing for several D.C.-area associations. She has helped associations of all sizes implement best practices that turn their job boards into full-featured career centers that create even stronger strategic value for associations.