Attract and Retain Members Better through Your Online Career Center

By Shanna Mertel • July 28, 2020

A well-executed career center helps an association identify potential new members while reinforcing benefits and membership attractiveness for its current participants.

Here are five ways to improve the resources and advice your career center offers, plus a list of bonus ideas to further enhance the relevancy of your online career center for members of all career stages.

Collect Demographic Information

It is important to capture demographic information before and while users are engaging on your career center. A recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek explains how cookies are going away, and that means having your own data is going to become really important for effective, customized online marketing.

Using an association’s career center does not generally require membership, but by requiring registration, your association will know who’s on your site and key information about them. And having that first-party data can boost your authority among employers and potential members.

Your association could use that data to pitch membership, but also refine your career center even more by knowing what ages/stages your visitors are will signal what type of content to provide, what types of services and what types of job postings might perform the best.

For example:

If you know from these registrations that most users are younger, services like résumé writing and interview coaching might perform better when combined with membership or program offerings. But if demographics show users skew older, you might want to invest more in career evolution services, promote management skill training and showcase job postings for higher level positions.

Develop Early Relationships

Hook the new professionals coming into your industry early on to develop a relationship that can turn into membership. Help them get their first experience or job in the industry, and you are creating a relationship that is built on value and beneficial engagement.

Utilize features of your career center to attract students and new professionals in your industry. This could be internships or entry level positions.


In addition, most job seeker accounts are free to create; therefore, the career center provides an opportunity to identify potential new members within the data collected on the career center.

NACCHO Career Center Internship Module
Create a section of your online career center dedicated to internships to help students and entry-level professionals find the type of job they’re ready for.

Provide Resources and Add to Them

There are job boards and then there are career centers. Career centers have content, resources and are integrated into the association’s strategic membership plan in a bigger way.

By adding resources like career guidance articles, résumé writing services, assessments and salary surveys to your career center, you are able to offer the tools members need to develop career paths and pursue other positions in your industry.

Screen grab of a resource section of an online career center

By continuously marketing new career center resources to members as they are newly offered creates the need for members to keep coming back to the site and to your association.

Set Up Career Pathing for Members

A career path strategy not only helps members see their potential for career progression, but also sets clear milestones for the required skills and experiences they will need to get to the next level in their career.

Associations can achieve this type of strategy by identifying vertical and lateral opportunities for professional advancement, and correlate those opportunities to association programs and membership.

An example of career pathing:

  1. New to Industry
    1. Where to get a marketing or communications degree
    2. Recommended certifications
  2. Entry Level
    1. Coordinator type role for marketing team
    2. Required certifications
    3. Resume writing services
    4. Interviewing best practices
  3. Knowledgeable
    1. Specialist type role focusing on key functions
    2. Core system certifications
    3. Professional membership in industry organizations
  4. Management
    1. Manager type role overseeing coordinators or specialists
    2. Assessment tools
    3. Continuing education courses
  5. Upper Management
    1. Director type role overseeing a team of professionals
    2. Mentor membership in industry organizations

Members will stay engaged by consistently checking in to see what foundations they need or new features to learn in order to continue to advance their career in your industry.

How to Connect the Dots

Get creative with RSS feeds from your career center. Place filtered RSS feeds on specific pages throughout your website to showcase current and potential jobs that members can explore based on the content of that page.

For example, if a member is on your association’s website and looking at a page about earning a certification in social media marketing, there could be an RSS feed of job postings from your career center on the side rail showing them jobs that require or prefer that certification.

  1. That is going to help reinforce the idea that I should pursue the certification as I can already see the benefits that it will bring (i.e., a new higher paying job!)
  2. I can see what other skills those postings are looking for that I may still need to acquire
  3. The association is showing me the path for career evolution, and I will be more likely to continue to keep coming back to the website/association for more information and opportunities

Bonus Career Center-Building Ideas

About The Author

Shanna Mertel is a director of client experience for the SaaS group at Naylor Association Solutions. Email her at [email protected].