Over the past year, the job market has changed. No longer a job hunters’ market, it now favors employers. Your association’s marketing messages must also change to reflect the new job market and workplace conditions that members, customers, and job seekers are encountering.
Tell your audience how association membership and education programs will help them stand out to potential employers and position themselves for career advancement.
Employers have the advantage now
Unlike the days of the Great Resignation, job seekers are at a disadvantage now. “The pendulum has swung back, and the power is in the hands of the hiring managers,” said Catherine Fisher, a career expert at LinkedIn.
Open positions in the U.S. declined throughout 2023. The number of job postings for finance, marketing, software development, and other white-collar fields has fallen below pre-pandemic levels.
Because competition for jobs is tougher now, employees are quitting at a lower rate than before the pandemic began. The 3.7% unemployment rate is near the 50-year low.
Yet, people still want to change jobs. A LinkedIn survey revealed that 85% of U.S. professionals say they’re thinking about changing jobs this year, up from 67% a year earlier. Broken down by generation, that’s:
• 90% of Gen Z
• 92% of millennials
• 83% of Gen X
• 48% of baby boomers
What job seekers need in an employers’ market
To differentiate themselves from the competition, job hunters need:
• Skills to keep them current and positioned for the future
• Lifelong learning mindset to prove they’ll help move a company forward, not hold it back, and are realistic about and ready for change
• Job-hunting and career resources and support
• Networking opportunities
LinkedIn’s Fisher said, “That means making networking part of the daily routine.” How better to do that than by becoming part of an association community?
Association membership as a job-hunting and promotion-earning tool
Many people have no idea how an association can help them in their job hunt and career. Raise awareness and educate this audience with your marketing messaging. Use multiple channels to reach people looking for a job, people who can’t stand their job but feel stuck now that the market has changed, and people who want to get promoted.
Let them know how association membership can help them stand out from the competition and get a job or a promotion.
Don’t just mention the feature “networking.” Describe the impact of this benefit. What could happen when a member builds a professional network of peers? What could happen if that network also includes professionals five, ten, or twenty years ahead of them?
What could happen if they connect with people who know about job opportunities that aren’t even public yet? Or can connect them with someone else who knows?
What could happen if they get to know people who can share advice, point them in the right direction, and keep them informed about industry jargon or the latest hot topics?
What could happen when they find similarly ambitious people in the same career stage? Or mentors, advisors, or their own personal board of directors?
Talk about the benefits of belonging to a supportive and inspirational community—people who will applaud their success, share stories, listen, and advise. Share member testimonials about the impact of connections they made with other members.
Unemployed people can’t always afford to attend in-person events, so highlight online networking opportunities, not just in-person meetups.
Learning is imperative if job hunters want to differentiate themselves from other candidates. Thankfully, your association can help them acquire and improve their skills and knowledge through online and in-person educational programs. They can demonstrate mastery of these competencies with digital badges and microcredentials, certificate programs, and certification programs. Learning paths show them which programs will help them achieve career goals.
Help people develop the AI skills everyone is talking about. Research by accounting firm EY found that 67% of U.S. office workers said they’re concerned they will lose out on promotions if they don’t know how to use AI technology. 66% said they’re worried about falling behind on work if they don’t use AI.
Tracy King, CAE, Chief Learning Strategist and CEO of InspirEd, suggests starting with AI ethics and literacy training. She’s on to something. Enrollment in online AI boot camps and courses has grown exponentially. Sure, people can find AI training elsewhere, but yours will be more useful if it focuses on industry scenarios and needs.
Don’t wait for your organization to figure out its own AI policies. Members, customers, and prospects are looking for these skills. You need to jump on this market need and prove your value to your audience.
Besides the technical (hard) skills needed at different career stages in your industry, offer programs in which people can develop soft skills. For example, if your industry has a high rate of hybrid/remote work, offer programs that help employees and managers work effectively together.
Association newsletters, publications, and research help members stay informed about news, trends, challenges, issues, and legislative/regulatory concerns. Remind your audience how this information will help them in job interviews or meetings with higher-ups at work.
Collect data about your audience’s interests so you’re only sending relevant information to them. If they know each email you deliver has something they value in it, your open rates will increase.
Dedicate a section of your website to workforce development and introductory information about different career paths in your industry. Include member testimonials, learning paths, and information about job and salary outlook, qualifications, and education or credentialing requirements.
Support members with:
• Job board—especially valuable if job postings are only visible to members
• Resume and LinkedIn profile review service
• Goal-setting workshops
• Job search and career advice webinars and meetups
• Coaching services as a member benefit (use volunteers) or a paid service
• Mentoring program
Association membership looks good on a resume and LinkedIn profile. It shows commitment to the industry and to professional growth. Award digital badges for membership (as long as they have expiration dates) that members can display on their LinkedIn profile.
The most underappreciated benefit of membership for many is volunteering. This benefit allows members to meet other members and develop skills, particularly leadership skills. Given the nature of their job, many professionals don’t have the opportunity to manage or lead others, so volunteering provides valuable experience.
Time is a bigger issue than ever, so offer lots of microvolunteering opportunities that don’t require as much of a time commitment.
In this employers’ job market, many members, customers, and prospects are trying to get hired or find a better job. Put a new spin on your membership and education marketing. Make them aware (or remind them) of the positive impact of membership benefits.