Data Hygiene: Why Bother?

By Richard Eberhart • January 10, 2019

Your association has a mountain of data from member profiles, job listings, transaction records and more. The amount of data your association hosts in its website, career center, and association management system may feel overwhelming, but it shouldn’t.


1: factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation

2: information in digital form that can be transmitted or processed

3: information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful.

Source: Merriam-Webster

Why should you care about having clean, usable data? Data is integral to the three broad goals most associations have:

  1. Acquire new members to grow your association,
  2. Retain current members and help them flourish, and
  3. Earn non-dues revenue to support association initiatives.

Data Centers Help You Leverage Data

Data centers are repositories of information that can be of use to your association. Data centers such as online career centers, websites, and association management software help you keep data correct, current and relevant to your goals. Analytics from data centers help associations use data as it is created, and help associations leverage data to improve programming.

Data centers increasingly are able to process data in real-time, allowing immediate use of data for marketing, membership, advocacy and career purposes.

What should a traditional data center contain?

Data centers should allow you to report on many, if not all, of these KPIs:

  1. Web traffic, including volume metrics such as users and page views, acquisition information such as referring sources and search keywords that resulted in visits, and device metrics. If your association cannot show the popularity of your website, you’ll have trouble attracting sponsors, advertisers or employers.
  2. Job seekers: Both number and demographics of job seekers are important to know so employers can make educated decisions about which job postings will have the most success and how much to invest in promoting them.
  3. Resumes: Who is submitting resumes, what skills are listed, what kinds of jobs candidates are looking for.
  4. Job Postings: What types of jobs are being submitted, by which employers, and for how long.
  5. Job Applications: How many are submitted through your website, how many successfully result in a job offer, and how long it takes a job posting to garner a desired number of applicants.

Your data center should offer some kind of reporting engine that allows your association to run reports that manipulate your data and present it in a way that helps you understand goal progress. Some reports will likely be pre-defined. Most reporting engines attached to website tracking programs or database software offer pre-defined reports surrounding sales, revenue, receivables and web traffic. They should be plug-and-play and require little customization to use.

Good reporting engines will also offer ad hoc or custom reports that allow your association to set up specialized reporting that gives you detailed information about job seekers, employers, and other member groups important to your association’s goals. Those groups might include mentors, mentees, students, potential members or longtime members.

Best Practices for Data Categories

For job seekers:

Make your data fields as granular as possible. For example, instead of having one field for Full Name, use two fields: one for First name and one for Last Name. Breaking down data to its smallest useable byte also gives your association a better chance of being able to use that data across platforms.

Give your members or job seekers the opportunity to add in custom information to their online profile. Make questions like “Are you a member?” optional but encouraged. Most people will fill in those fields honestly, giving your association the chance to meet member needs (or encourage them to become a member and then meet their professional needs) and grow membership.

Ask for complete contact info, and have your database record the time, day and year when a profile was last updated. Knowing how old data is will help your association gauge its accuracy and validity as time goes on. Know what day of the week and what time of day a user last interacted with your site will tell you when your members are willing to engage with your association.

For employer reporting:

In addition to complete contact info, your association will want to know an employer’s spending history with your association so you can classify them at an appropriate sponsorship level and present upsell options.

An employer’s activity status is also important because this information will tell your association how engaged an employer is with your website or online career center, and thus how likely they are to continue supporting your association through paid job listings. Employers that register with your career center but never submit a job listing can be put on a list to receive more information about the benefits of advertising with your association as well as special offers to get them off the fence and in your advertiser group.

Supply employers with the job posting statistics your database’s reporting mechanisms should be tracking. Employers are very interested in the potential ROI they can get from your site and will often base their decision on the numbers you can provide. Provide site visits, time spent per visit, return visit percentages, and volume of postings.

Data Security

No discussion about data hygiene and maintenance is complete without a discussion about protecting the important data you have from alteration, loss or theft.

Basic protection includes using a firewall and encryption services with your database. Endpoint protection such as virus scans and 24/7 monitoring is a must. When you detect an unauthorized login to your database or suspect that your data is being altered beyond your work, alert someone well-versed in data security immediately so your data won’t become unusable.

Physical access to your data center should be monitored by lock and key, biometric security systems, video surveillance systems, or in-person security plans.

Have a plan for the identification and removal of fraudulent accounts. Because association career centers are available for the public to use, it’s easy for scammers or hackers to create profiles and use your site with the intention to cause harm or mislead your members. Scan job postings and delete the ones that are spam. Block access to the profiles those fake postings come from. Alert your database users if their data is accessed by hackers.

Data is the new currency

Data is quickly becoming the currency that many associations live, flourish, or contract by. Keep it accurate and useable, and protect it the way you would your returns, and it will quickly become as valuable to your association as the revenues it helps you grow.

Want to know more? Naylor clients can contact their account manager for more information about how Naylor protects the data within its online career centers. If you’re not yet a Naylor client, email [email protected] to set up a chat with our data experts.

About The Author

Richard Eberhart is an account executive with the career solutions division of Naylor Association Solutions.