Careers

What to Do When You Inherit a Career Center: How to Market It

By Shanna Mertel • November 23, 2020

You’re newly in charge of managing your association’s online career center. You’ve learned why an online career center is an essential member benefit and you’ve reviewed our checklist of 10 immediate steps to take to familiarize yourself with the way it works. The next step is to market your online career center to members, nonmembers, job seekers and employers so they know about the amazing professional and career development resources your association hosts.

In this third part of our “Now What?” series about how to take over responsibilities and direction for association online career centers, we offer a bevy of marketing ideas to help you explain to your association’s audiences why your online career center should be a frequent online destination and how it can help boost their professional and career development. 

The Four Ps of Career Center Marketing

If you’ve studied marketing, you know about the Four Ps: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. When you apply these four Ps to your online career center, marketing it becomes simple.

Product

Want to know an open secret about marketing your online career center? Your career center platform is not the actual product. When it comes to job seekers, what your association is really selling is information about how to take the next steps in their career and the confidence to make that transition happen. When it comes to employers, you’re selling access to qualified industry talent. 

Your marketing messages will certainly include verbiage about the concrete services your online career center offers, such as resume critiquing or mentorship connections. You’ll want to include information about the newest job postings, but that information should be secondary to messages about the results members should expect when they frequently use your online career center: 

  • The clearly defined, professionally fulfilling career path they embark upon thanks to your association. 
  • The self-esteem they’ll build once they brush up on their interview skills through your online career center’s interview coaching services. 
  • The upward mobility they will enjoy thanks to higher-paying jobs they can access after completing a certification. 

These are the real reasons people seek help with their professional careers. Speak to them! 

For employers, your marketing messages might mention discounts or deals on job listing packages. But the real product is access to a highly qualified and specialized talent pool that they won’t find as easily on a larger job aggregator, such as Monster or Indeed. Your association’s online career center offers time-saving, cost-effective ways for employers to discover their next star employee. Emphasize those types of benefits, and securing job listings will become much easier.

Price

Traditional marketing wisdom advises pricing a product in such a way that conveys its quality but is also competitive with similar products in the marketplace. For job seekers, the price of your association’s online career center can be measured in part by the amount of membership dues a professional must pay to access the platform. Price is also measured in time and energy spent using your online career center; this is why it’s important to ensure your job board and associated career services are serving users’ real professional needs. If your online career center doesn’t offer a good user experience, people will only visit once or twice. 

How can you ensure a quality user experience? Welcome users with an engaging splash page. Keep your career content fresh and catalog it by employment level for quick and easy browsing. Have a designated internship section for students and recent graduates. Involve other departments for content and career services

For employers, price is more straightforward. Your association will charge a certain amount in exchange for posting a job listing. You’ll want to do some market research to determine a fair job listing or career center sponsorship price:

  1. What other industry job boards charge.
  2. The amount of monthly visitors your online career center could attract. 
  3. The engagement metrics of those visitors for key performance indicators.

However, you’ll need to think in terms of UX for employers as well: Is the posting process seamless? Will your team process employers’ job listings, or will you offer self-service? 

In addition, you’ll need to set a fair price based on your job board’s technical parameters: How comprehensive can employers get with the information they submit in their job listings? Can they include rich media like embedded videos or chat, or is their profile limited to more static information such as text and images? Consider these factors when setting the price for employers to be represented among your users.

Placement

Making your online career center easily accessible is paramount to marketing it well. Place a prominent link to your career center on the home page of your association’s main website. Consider using a linked graphic to make it even more visible. Your online career center can be included in a menu of resources, but we recommend making it a top-level link to reduce the amount of clicks users must make to reach it. 

For a more dynamic placement on your main website, install an RSS feed that shows off the most recent job listings as they come in. This is a good way to reach passive job seekers who may think they have no need to visit your association’s online career center. A new position or title that excites them while they’re browsing another section of your website could encourage them to click over and check it out. Add RSS feeds on your main website’s professional development and career-related pages. Some email platforms also allow RSS feeds in eNewsletters as well.

How you position your online career center in your users’ minds is important, too. You know that your career center holds much more than job listings, but do members know that? The product is the benefits of enhanced career and professional knowledge, but it’s also the services available in your career center. Association online career centers can host integrations such as credentialing badge showcases, resume critiquing services, mentorship matching, and online courses that provide value whether or not members are actively seeking a new job. You want to position your online career center as a place employers should sponsor through display advertising, underwriting services, or sponsoring career-related events whether or not they have job openings to post.

Promotion

The last P is easy once you have the first three in place. Now that you know your product, its cost, and how to position it, broadcast those messages to your usual marketing channels: member communications, social media pages, main website and at  events, to name just a few of the many places your association likely has space for such information. Promote your career center consistently. Career development isn’t a seasonal activity. Your members, and other non-member job seekers, will appreciate your reminders about this resource no matter the season.

Another idea: Enlist your online career center’s users in marketing your site: Create digital badges unique to your association or industry that let registered career center users show off their credentials. Make these badges prestigious enough in look and use that everyone will want one for their online profile.

A Well-Marketed Online Career Center Leads to More Satisfied Members

The four Ps of marketing your online career center – product, price, placement and promotion – will help make it a success in terms of increased web traffic and non-dues revenue. Comprehensively marketing your online career center should net you a more intangible benefit as well: satisfied members. 

When members know about membership benefits such as specialized job postings and career development services available from your association, they’re more likely to understand the value of membership in your association and become long-term members. Promoting your online career center in such a way that encourages deep engagement will allow members to offer you more feedback about the usefulness of your online career center and ways it can still be improved. Creating this cycle of promotion-engagement-feedback-improvement should be the main goal when managing your association’s online career center. 

About The Author

Shanna Mertel is a director of client experience for the SaaS group at Naylor Association Solutions. Email her at shanna.mertel@naylor.com.