Focus on Your Career Center in an Uncertain Job Market

By Shanna Mertel • March 23, 2020

Associations and the industries they represent are experiencing workforce disruption at a speed we’ve never seen. Entire organizations are shifting to telework, when and where possible. Businesses and services in those areas deemed “essential” in the midst of a crisis – health care, emergency services, food production, utilities and shipping – have workers seeing longer days and the need to increase hiring. In other industries, some companies have had to make the difficult decision to furlough or lay off employees and even close their doors for the foreseeable future.

This about-face in the job market has left associations asking themselves how they can make their career center an increasingly valuable resource for their members, both in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and in the aftermath and recovery.

Here are five ways associations can use their career centers to provide their industries and members with support and assistance in navigating this uncertain job market.

1. Teach members how to recruit virtually. Companies in a number of industries are continuing to recruit new employees for current job openings or to build a pipeline so they’re prepared when the economy picks up again. Out of necessity, recruitment is shifting almost exclusively online, including virtual job interviews. Provide guidance for your members – both to companies hiring and to candidates applying for positions – on how to successfully handle the interview process in this moment. Post blog and video content and trainings that will walk them through how to make the most of the technology available to them for videos conferencing.

2. Emphasize your association’s network. Professional networking is without a doubt one of the top reasons that people join associations. Membership allows them to build lifelong relationships with colleagues and mentors, and it provides access to potential employers who are moving the industry forward. Encourage members who are practicing social distancing to connect through your online community; include prominent links throughout your career center to these sites where members can ask questions or share advice with each other during this time. Many associations have announced that they are hosting virtual chats and happy hours, so make sure to promote any online networking events that would be of extra benefit to those in the job market.

3. Encourage employers and job seekers to stay connected. The uncertainty and economic worry we’re experiencing is causing some companies and individuals to put any and all career decisions on pause until they feel more in control of the situation. Associations should consider offering discounted or free extensions for longer job postings past the traditional 30 days. This gives companies and individuals the time they need to process what’s happening in the world around them, and it puts your association’s career center in a position to still be there when they need you most. You could also consider hosting a virtual career fair that would allow for companies and candidates to engage with each other – and it opens up the possibility of a new stream of non-due revenue for your association.

4. Provide continuing education and development opportunities. With a large percentage of the workforce working from home for the foreseeable future, it presents a new opportunity: Most members have unlimited access to consume online content and more time in their day than they had when they were commuting into the office. Those two factors together give associations an opportunity to help members strengthen their future job prospects by taking an online class, attending a webinar or studying for an industry certification. Create an area within your career center dedicated to professional development and continuing education where your members can gain new skills and add them to their resumes now – it will elevate your entire industry in the long run.

5. Focus on relevant content. Right now, your members are looking to you for accurate, timely content about how this pandemic and the subsequent economic impacts will affect their professional interests. Make sure to include your career center in your overall communications strategy in the coming months. There may be magazine articles, blog posts, Q&As, checklists and handouts from past educational events already in your content archive that you can repurpose immediately, but also create a plan that involves creating new content unique to the market right now. If you don’t already, consider offering sponsored content opportunities to your expert supplier members. They have important insights into how industries will evolve in the coming months and what skills professionals will need in order to be ready for new job opportunities.

While no one can predict what will happen with the job market in any particular area in the weeks and months ahead, associations can do their part to make sure that their career center is an active, timely resource for organizations and individuals to connect.

About The Author

Shanna Mertel is a director of client experience for the SaaS group at Naylor Association Solutions. She can be reached at [email protected].