Associations have a built-in advantage over commercial job boards, and it isn't a far leap for an association to increase nondues revenue with its own industry job board.
Associations have access to something almost every employer wants: job candidates. John Bell, CEO of career services provider Boxwood Technology, Inc., explains how associations can capitalize on this resource by breaking into the job board business.
Associations Now: First of all, why should an association consider introducing a job board?
Bell: Because from an industry perspective, they have a huge advantage over commercial job boards that have to advertise and promote and try to pull job seekers into their website and then figure out how to keep them there.
Monster and Career Builder—they've got all kinds of products and services to keep the job seeker interested in coming back. Associations, just by virtue of all the products and services they provide their members, have been doing this work for years and don't have to do anything extra to keep the candidate interested.
What about associations that currently don't charge a fee for their job board—should they?
This is a multibillion-dollar business, and if you can provide value—candidates actually applying for jobs—absolutely we want to charge a fee for that valued service. In my judgment, free has a connotation that it doesn't have any value, so if you're going to do it for free, I just wouldn't do it.
What advice would you give an association navigating the change from free to fee?
I would say this even if it was a job board that already charges a fee: Most everyone looks at building a job board business as [needing] to go out and get job posters. That's what they focus on. So they advertise the job postings and put things in magazines and try to get employers to come in and post jobs.
That's all important, but if you think long term, the most important thing to building and sustaining a job board business is engagement with the community. You have to engage your members to want to come in and use the job board for their personal career advancement.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "From Free to Fee."]