10 Best Practices for Career-Center Success

By: Tristan Jordan

How to make your career center beneficial to both your members and your association.

Associations have discovered that offering career centers is a powerful benefit that attracts new members, strengthens loyalty with current members, and generates significant nondues revenue. Many associations' career centers are the most-trafficked section of their websites. The success of career centers varies widely; some become the premier destination for jobs in a given industry, while others flounder, failing to attract much traffic, doing little to make the organization more valuable to members, and earning little revenue.

Below is a list of the 10 best practices for career-center success. Follow these tips and your organization will have its bases covered when it comes to making your career center as valuable as possible to your membership and as successful as possible for your association.

1. Never launch a job board without highly relevant jobs on it. New job boards can access a job pool through their service provider, spider jobs from other sites, or backfill relevant jobs from job aggregators. It is crucial that jobs on the site are highly relevant to the audience you serve. Employers won't want to post the first ad on your site, and a site without relevant jobs is of no value to job seekers.

2. Get jobs off the job board. To attract job seekers, it is crucial to make jobs visible outside the job board. Publish JavaScript widget code on your site so other sites can display your jobs. Include a "careers" tab on your Facebook page and publish recent jobs there. Announce job openings on Twitter. Promote "featured jobs" in your newsletter, on your homepage, and on other pages of your website.

3. Price properly. If you offer access to hard-to-reach talent, you should be compensated properly for it. The vast majority of association job boards charge too little, shortchanging the nondues revenue they generate.

4. Call employers. Monitor abandoned orders and call employers when they occur to follow up. Call new employers as they register and as their subscriptions are about to expire. A quick phone call to welcome them or promote the value of your site will make a big difference.

5. Incentivize membership. Job seekers and employers who utilize your career center should see clear and obvious benefits of membership to your organization. Offer lower job-posting prices for your members' organizations and differentiate the resumes of members from nonmembers.

6. Host a career fair. Incorporate a career fair into your annual event and manage it through your career center. Career fairs typically drive a dramatic three-month spike in usage of the career center by employers and job seekers.

7. Offer value-added products for employers and job seekers. Give employers and job seekers an opportunity to stand out by offering the opportunity to purchase additional exposure, such as "featured jobs" or "preferred resumes."

8. Market your career center. Promote your career center in your print publications and newsletters, place online ads, reach out to all of your members, offer coupons, and even give new employers free "featured job" postings.

9. Optimize search-engine rankings. As a general rule, good search-engine optimization will add at least 10 percent to your sales.

10. Don't go it alone. If you rely on third parties to help power your career center, be sure to leverage their expertise, not just their technology. Challenge them to guide your strategy and make recommendations to help ensure your success.

Remember, the success of a career center is largely dictated by the value it delivers to employers. Following these tips will help drive relevant jobs to your career center, making it more valuable to your members and generating more nondues revenue for your association.

Tristan Jordan is vice president, marketing and partner relations for JobTarget, which provides career centers for more than 1,000 associations. Email: [email protected]