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The 2014 job market: the potential risks and rewards for your association

As we wrap up 2013 and look into the New Year one thing seems already apparent to even the most skeptical of economic forecasters, the US job market is making strides in putting people back to work. Admittedly, the progress is slow, but it is happening.

Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that through October, on average employment is up over 2012 and 2011. In addition, the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report confirms that 2013 has been a solid year for job creation.

College graduates ready to enter the workforce can look forward to a better year in 2014 as well, as employers are projected to hire close to eight percent more new graduates than in 2013, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ NACE 2014 Job Outlook Survey.

And finally, a survey by Right Management, a subsidiary of staffing management firm Manpower, reports the improving employment picture will be cause for many workers to look for other opportunities in the New Year. In a recent online poll, 83 percent admitted they would be looking for a new position in 2014. Of those polled, 12 percent were unsure if they would be actively looking, but admitted to increased career networking activity and to updating their resume. Only five percent of those responding plan to remain in their current position.
This all points to a potential great year for your association in terms of influence in the marketplace; and from a bottom line perspective, the growth of non-dues revenue if you offer your members access to employment opportunities through an online job board or Career Center.

“LinkedIn has a very engaged group of users and they have recruiters coming to the site to find people for their job openings. That attracts more users, which attracts more recruiters. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

The good news is that if you have already implemented a Career Center or job board you are in position to succeed. However, if career resources are not a part of your overall strategy, your association is at risk of losing more than just potential non-dues revenue – competition is coming for your members and they are armed and ready to dilute your influence with them.

According to David Meier with the fool.com, LinkedIn is poised to become a disruptive force in the traditional job search market in 2014. The social media giant is quickly positioning itself as “the place to go not only to find a new job, but become better at the job you are currently in.” And It will do so much more than just help someone find a job; it will actually make finding a job in the future that much easier.

Meier adds that LinkedIn “has a very engaged group of users and they have recruiters coming to the site to find people for their job openings. That attracts more users, which attracts more recruiters. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

And what LinkedIn is doing to ensure that cycle becomes an infinite loop? They are making sure there is “tons” of relevant content available for anyone to digest who comes to the site. Their goal is to be the de facto standard for where someone goes to go to find a job.

As an important step to that goal, LinkedIn is helping young people find the right college. By registering on LinkedIn students are able to see where others have gone to school and what they have accomplished professionally. That can definitely have an influence on where someone decides to go to college. And LinkedIn encourages young people to get their information out there early and to start building their networks. Is it working? According to LinkedIn the 18-24 year old segment is their fastest growing base of users. LinkedIn is looking to make lifetime users, today.

In case you haven’t made the connection yet, Meier is talking about networking, high value content and job opportunities for YOUR members and potential future members. Why worry? In the quest to remain relevant to your members, and prospective members, your association NEEDS to be positioned as the career resource for your industry within your area. You should be the trusted resource for all things career oriented for your members. If your members are turning to LinkedIn for that, they most certainly are turning away from you.

And while there is cause for concern, associations don’t need to take a back seat to LinkedIn. Our Association Career Network has experienced impressive growth once again in 2013. Participating associations are growing their influence as the trusted resource for career seekers as they continue to provide access to career opportunities within their industry. Employers are searching for the most qualified candidates available for their open positions, and they are finding them on those association Career Centers. Associations, by their very nature, provide those highly sought after candidates via their member base.

Experience tells us that employers are more than willing to pay to list and advertise their targeted opportunities to members and prospective members, all while creating a steady stream of non-dues revenue for the association. By posting jobs on an association’s Career Center, employers gain exclusive access to the best, most qualified candidates, consisting of engaged, (career minded) professionals with the degrees, certifications, and experience needed to increase quality of hire and candidate success. Online career centers connect an association’s members and prospects to the top employers and opportunities within their industry, helping to build greater member loyalty and engagement.

We are definitely bullish about the growth of the Association Career Network in 2014 and would like to share what that could mean for you and your association. We will be offering proven ideas and strategies for your association’s Career Center at our Xperience 2014 Customer Conference, March 31 – April 3, 2014 in St. Petersburg, Florida. We hope to see you there.

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