The last few years brought unprecedented volatility to the labor markets, with a never-before-seen decline in jobs in 2020, and a never-before-seen rebound in 2021 and 2022. Career centers only grew in importance throughout this time – first serving as a valuable resource for nervous or unemployed job seekers, and more recently serving as a critical source of talent to help the nation’s employers overcome its labor crisis.
Read on to learn how to grow revenue and your association members’ careers in today’s labor market.
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Today’s labor market
The current state of the labor market seems to be at an inflection point – but you can still drive your association’s career services-related revenue and grow members’ careers. You can easily enhance your association’s career center, which will further solidify your importance to your industry, making you a more complete and valuable career destination for members and job seekers.
If you’re like most associations, your career center has been firing on all cylinders. In 2022, YM Careers job boards’ recruitment advertising sales to employers was up double digits – for the second year in a row. This was an almost unprecedented bounce back in job board revenue compared to 2020, when sales plummeted as the economy shut down. The tight labor market in most industries has certainly been a driver of recruitment advertising non-dues revenue for associations, but there are other important levers to pull as well.
A closer look at the labor market showcases why providing employers with access to talent right now is such a big non-dues revenue opportunity. Open jobs, new hires and the number of people quitting have all peaked. So, we can’t just assume that the tailwinds to association career centers over the last two years will continue. This makes it even more critical to focus on levers that drive growth.
It’s important to consider what’s happening in the economy today, and how that’s likely to affect labor demand. The Federal Reserve System is aggressively raising interest rates in order to slow down demand – with job openings in their crosshairs. Too many open jobs creates wage inflation, which drives overall inflation. The Fed is anticipated to reduce the number of open jobs to get the supply and demand of labor back in balance.
So, expect demand to moderate. The U.S. has created 11 million jobs per year in the past two years. In a normal year the U.S. creates about three million jobs. These year over year comparables may be challenging and even negative to job growth in some industries in 2023.
What the labor market means for associations
The good news is that even if growth does slow, for most associations, compound annual growth rate over a three- or four-year period will still likely be incredibly strong. And more importantly, there are things associations can control that drive career center revenue growth and usage.
How do associations drive more usage? Simply put, make your online job board a more complete career growth destination. No association has 100% market share for the job ads in your industry. Even if the market of open jobs declines, associations can always grow their share, if you increase value to members and job seekers.
This success feeds on itself to create more awareness of your association as a career resource and gives a better return to employers who pay your association to post their jobs, in the form of more candidates. You can then increase your association’s share of recruitment advertising revenue from competitors like Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, or any other niche sites.
And as labor dynamics shift from a job seeker’s market to more of an employer’s market, you have a bigger opportunity to help members who now turn to you for career growth. So, let’s shift to that side of the equation and discuss how to add additional value for job seekers and employers.
How to add value to your industry in a tight labor market
The 2022 annual report from Community Brands shows association trends based on a survey of association professionals and association members. The data shows the top 12 most important benefits to association members compared to how important association staff (Pros) view those benefits.
Job opportunities and career advancement are well represented on this list. But what is jarring is how much higher members rated the importance of these benefits versus association staff – 42% versus 20%. Associations’ takeaway here should be that these items are more important than you think they are to your members, based on what your members told us.
And when we segment the responses by career stage, the dissonance between member and Pro viewpoints is even more glaring. Many associations focus on how to attract and engage early career professionals, the next generation of members. Well, the 2022 Association Trends Study shows that their top two priorities are help with career advancement and job opportunities.
For mid careerists, job opportunities and career advancement round out two of their top three priorities. These benefits are a very big deal to your association’s current and future members. So, want more non-dues revenue? Focus more on career advancement for members.
Be serious about being the number one career destination in your industry for jobs and career advancement. A transactional job board that only has job postings and resumes is not enough. You need to turn your association job board into a true, highly valuable career growth destination.