Time for a Career Center Health Check

By David Butler • October 24, 2019

Online career centers are often the second most-visited section of an association website. But when was the last time you checked on the health of your online career center? Is it still the user-friendly, secure portal teeming with career development resources your staff hoped it would be? Or is it time for a tech and content checkup? Have you maximized opportunities to engage your key audiences and drive non-dues revenue?

If your online career center needs a little CPR (Career Platform Resuscitation), read on for four areas within which you should start administering some TLC:

How are you promoting your career center?

You can’t hope to earn revenue from your career center if there are no eyes on it – from members, job seekers, or employers.

Some ways to promote your career center, in order from lower to higher cost and effort:

Link it on our association website’s home page:

Can a visitor easily notice a link to your career center and click through from your home page? If not, make such a link more prominent ASAP. As a whole, we’re all a bit lazy when it comes to finding information online. We want to find the links, documents, videos, or other resources we’re hunting for NOW, and we don’t want to do a lot of work to find it. At a minimum, your career center should be included within the main navigation on your association’s website. TESOL International Association does a great job of this:

TESOL Website Header

An even better strategy is to link it as a top-level item in your main menu (meaning “Career Center” is visible within the menu without having to click on any drop-downs or submenus) AND include a button or graphic elsewhere on your home page that leads visitors to the portal. Check out the National Catholic Education Association’s home page for a strong example of linking a career center in more than one place:


NCEA Website Header


NCEA Website Footer

This tactic is something your webmaster has to implement just once, so it is low-cost in terms of time and effort.

Advertise your association’s career center on your social media pages:

Do your members like to gather on Facebook? Maybe Twitter or LinkedIn is where they prefer to exchange ideas? Wherever they meet around the virtual water cooler, remind them that your association’s career center offers plenty of career development resources through a post on your page/account.

The National Association for Healthcare Quality regularly prompts their page followers to check in at their career center to browse open positions and keep working toward their next career step. Posts like this one show up on NAHQ’s LinkedIn group page as well as within the news feed of their group’s members:

NAHQ LinkedIn post

They remind employers about the talent pool they could access through NAHQ’s career center, too:

NAHQ LinkedIn page

You could also add a permanent link to your career center on your profile. Most members and other stakeholders know your association’s main website URL. (And if they don’t, they likely use the auto-fill function available in all browsers to quickly find it.) Link them to something less obvious like your career center. Promote individual job listings as a way to spark interest in specific threads on your online career center, and to give the employers paying for those listings a little boost in impressions.

Regularly mention your online career center in your eNewsletters

If you publish a member newsletter or career brief, you have a ready-made opportunity to remind members about your career portal. Place a permanent link to your online career center in the header or sidebar of your eNewsletter. Within the body, feature “jobs of the week (or month, quarter, etc.)” from new or premier-sponsor employers. Include some tips about interviewing or resume writing that tease (and link too!) a longer article about that topic within your career center. Promote upcoming career-based webinars or workshops. Even if newsletter recipients aren’t actively looking for jobs, nearly every professional is interested in career development resources that will someday help them take the next step.

If you’re able to personalize career newsletter content to match the career stage or specialization of a member through an artificial intelligence platform, even better. Your career center can be a source of reliable content for your eNewsletter/career brief while the publication promotes your career center. Win-win!

RSS feeds:

RSS iconRSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. While this tool has declined in popularity over the past decade, RSS feeds are still a great option for members who like signing up to be notified by email about new posts or notices on your website. Once you’ve set up an RSS feed on your blog (and most Word Press themes come with a built-in RSS feed; learn how to find the address here (LINK?)), advertise the RSS URL to your members and ask them to bookmark it. Then anytime you create a blog post or news article that’s about your career center, subscribers will get an email notification that there are new resources or features available to take advantage.

Retargeted ads:

Career Center Programmatic Ad Example

Retargeting (via programmatic advertising) is a strategic way to use your association’s advertising budget. When an individual visits your website, a programmatic ad platform places a cookie on their computer. Then, as they surf the Web, your association’s ads about your online career center can follow them and encourage them to revisit your career center. Retargeted ads are only shown to individuals who have visited your website (or another designated website), preventing your ad budget from being wasted on impressions to people who might fit your member demographics but really have no connection to your association.

This option for promoting your online career center does involve an investment of time (to create ads, to work with a programmatic advertising platform) and money, but it’s one of the more strategic ways your association could spend an advertising budget.

Is your online career center user-friendly?

Usability drives profitability. Having a responsive website, meaning a site where text and images automatically resize to optimally fit the size of the user’s screen, is a must. If text is difficult to read, links are impossible to tap, (or links spaced too closely together mean users repeatedly tap an unwanted link), or images bleed off the screen because they’re too large for the screen, job seekers and members looking for career development resources will leave and not come back. This will mean fewer eyeballs on your ads, which equals less advertiser value, which translates to less non-dues revenue from your online career center over time.

Your association should examine your online career center’s site analytics to see what percentage of your users are viewing your career center on a mobile device, and thus, how much attention you should pay to ensuring a pleasant mobile experience, but it’s likely to be high. As of 2018, more than half of all Internet traffic worldwide was coming from a mobile device.

Usability on a small screen may affect whether or not an employer purchases a listing on your online career center as well. Smart Insights has found that for 2019, mobile traffic accounted for 53 percent of online store traffic but only 32 percent of total revenue collected. In 2020, mobile devices accounted for more than half (55%) of all online revenue for the first time ever. Meaning desktop users still make the bulk of online purchases. That may be because the mobile purchasing experience is still an afterthought for many organizations. Make sure browsing your career center and purchasing a listing on it is a non-frustrating experience on both desktop and mobile.

Need some guidance about how to make your mobile site more revenue-friendly? Digital Reach provides some excellent tips for B2B organizations wanting to optimize mobile conversions.

Are you integrating other career resources into your online career center?

Beyond the mechanics of your online career center, take a look at the health of your sites’ content. Are you offering what job seekers want from a career hub? A healthy online career center is about more than job listings. You should offer additional resources such as resume critiquing services, posts about acing job interviews, community forums for professionals with similar goals, and virtual career fairs.

NAPE Online Career Center
The National Association of Professional Engineers offers members and job seekers help with asking for references, writing resumes, and figuring out their next career steps in addition to job listings on their job board.

Your association can integrate many of these services or assets seamlessly through third-party platforms like the Naylor Marketplace. Third-party apps or integrations allow associations with little staff technical expertise to diversity their online career center offerings by presenting ready-made connections, often through an API, to career development or professional development apps that make offering career tools easier. Give members the ability to upload their resume and digital credentials, their favorite business articles, and their work portfolio to their online career center profiles through integrations such as TopResume and Indeed. Then offer online community tools through platforms such as Higher Logic or America’s Job Exchange that make finding and preparing for that next job or promotion easier.

Give your members reasons to visit your online career center during all stages of their career, and your association will reap the benefits of increased member satisfaction.

Is your online career center secure?

Besides a terrible visual experience, the quickest way for your online career center to lose members and value is to fail to protect the data members upload (in the form of resumes, work samples, and more) or to fail to validate employers’ authenticity when posting job listings.

The most basic security measure your association should take with its online career center is to use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to establish an encrypted link between your web server and the user’s web browser. Learn the basics of SSL tech here. SSL ensures that all pages within your career center are guarded against malicious attacks and protects users’ information as they submit it through forms on your site. Sites that use SSL have URLs that begin with “https” instead of “http.”

European Union FlagIf your association wants to implement additional security on your online career center, your tech plan should include being GDPR compliant. If your association accepts online payments, you’ll want to be PCI-DSS compliant to reassure your members that you can properly safeguard their information. Finally, to protect your career portal against new online attacks, look into 24/7 intrusion detection software plus active virus scans through software such as McAfee VirusScan.

Your association should also employ job seeker and employer member authentication. Validating both groups helps prevent fraud and resume theft, and reassures job seekers that they’re submitting information to a real, reputable employer. Add-ons such as Credly helps potential employees verify skills and competencies for online job applications.

Your online career center has the potential to be a comprehensive resource that engenders member longevity and increased non-dues revenue from employers and advertisers. Use these four questions as a springboard for improvements to your career center, and watch member engagement and employer listings grow!

Blueprint for a Profitable Career CenterWant a more detailed checklist that evaluates your career center’s health? Check out our free eBook, Blueprint for a Profitable Career Center. This free resource offers 14 points to examine before purchasing an online career center. If you already host one, this is the perfect companion to ensure you’re operating your career center at peak performance!


About The Author

David Butler is a senior director for business deelopment ,specializing in software-as-a-service solutions, for Naylor Association SOlutions. Reach him at [email protected].