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June 11, 2020 How Associations can Increase Member Engagement After COVID-19 Richard Green - Director of Business Development

How Associations can Increase Member Engagement After COVID-19

So let's start with what should be a very familiar adage - members are the lifeblood of your association. Before I dive into the big picture of the insight I'm about to share, I want you to really think about that adage in the context of the current economic climate. Millions unemployed, a volatile job market, the new normal, and so much more. 

Now that you've wrapped your head around what your members mean to your organization, and what we're all going through right now, let's talk about what your organization can do to increase member engagement after COVID-19.

To understand how you can provide value for your community after COVID-19 you need a true picture of what the economy currently looks like.

The Economy in Recovery

Though the economy took a massive hit that led to millions being left unemployed or furloughed, job losses have begun to slow down. 

Economists were expecting reports for May to show around 8 million job losses and an unemployment rate nearing 20%. 

Instead, the unemployment rate suddenly fell in May as employers added 2.5 million jobs. It was the best month for job growth since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data in 1939.

Although the job market remains much weaker than it was pre-pandemic, the data shows things have at least stopped getting worse which is very good news.

Unexpected job gains in May is the best news we've had in, what seems like, forever. But even with this significant win, the staggering job losses incurred during the pandemic means the economy is far from a full recovery.

At 13.3%, the unemployment rate remains near historic highs, and employers have yet to add back 19.6 million jobs lost since February. Job losses of that magnitude are so severe, they're more than double the 8.7 million jobs lost following the Great Recession — and in a far shorter period.

Even when employers begin adding jobs back to the market, the unemployment rate is forecasted to remain at a relatively high rate of 6% through the end of 2021. 

Specific industries will likely take much longer to recover – events, restaurants, travel, tourism, etc. These types of industries may not have enough job ads on their site to meet the demand from jobseekers.  

So how does all of this tie into increasing member engagement after COVID-19? 

No matter what industry your association is in, you know what's relevant for many professionals worldwide right now - jobs.

Increase Member Engagement After COVID-19 with Career Resources

Depending on your industry, many of your members - and your professional community at large - are trying to rebuild their careers. Be there for them by providing value where it matters most right now, through career resources.

In the coming months, associations with career sites will likely see millions of unemployed professionals sweep over their job board. This wave of jobseekers will be seeking new opportunities and updates on how to navigate their specific industry during recovery. 

This incoming wave of jobseekers is extremely important for associations because your job board will never get a second chance to make a first impression. 

If your job board isn't equipped with:

  •  Up-to-date job opportunities
  • Enriched search to populate relevant job ads
  • Careers advice content and tools
  • Seamless and intuitive UX
  • Virtual career fairs
  • Employer branding tools to attract businesses to post job ads on your site
  • and much more

You risk losing return traffic, potential new members, and non-dues revenue from advertising. 

But, let's hit the pause button for a moment. Let it sink in what we're describing here - job ads, careers advice content, job search tools, virtual career fairs, etc. This goes far beyond a linear job board that just has job postings and some resume writing tips.

Your members are looking for resources to aid their job search in a world that transformed in a matter of months. In these unprecedented times, the most meaningful way you can provide value and increase engagement with your community after COVID-19 is by evolving your careers site from a linear job board...

to a robust career center that will offer all of the above and much more.

The impact a career center has on engagement and other KPI's is significant and backed by data. Let's look at just two of these six additional features a career center provides and some real world examples of the impact it's had on member engagement metrics. 

Editorial & Careers Advice

Your career center should have the ability to intuitively house editorial content which provides career guidance, tips & advice for job search, case studies on other job seekers & employers, and up-to-date commentary on what’s happening in your industry.

Amid all the downturn in traffic across job boards and career sites, in recent weeks we've seen a significant spike in article views across our library of career centers by over 100%!

This highlights that professionals are turning to careers advice content on industry career sites to learn how to navigate their job search during the pandemic. Publishing relevant, insightful careers advice content will drive significant traffic and provide real value for your community as the economy recovers.

To highlight just how powerful careers advice content can be for attracting site traffic, consider the image below.

This particular site publishes 1-3 articles per week and, in the last quarter of the year, their initial landing page traffic from Google accounted for over 40% of overall site traffic. Careers sites with a solid editorial strategy attract more organic search traffic. Period.

To be clear, your careers advice content shouldn't be the generic "resume writing tips" article, or "how to nail an interview". Content should be specific and highly relevant to your niche. 

It should also be relevant to current events.

As your community seeks resources to get back to work, evolving your careers site from a linear job board to a robust career center complete with valuable content will go a long way in driving traffic, engagement, and return visitors after COVID-19.

Employer Branding

At Madgex we are constantly researching, testing and analyzing data to fully understand user behavior. As part of this, we conducted in-depth research into jobseeker behavior - the first of it’s kind. That survey unearthed a whole host of invaluable insights.

Key Finding: Evolution of the Job Board

Job boards are primarily used by jobseekers to identify and research employers. As a result, job sites need to be more oriented towards employer branding.

This is a hot topic in the current climate, with several key industry voices lending their thoughts on how to protect your employer brand during this time of crisis, and others touting it as more important than its ever been.

From the insights gleaned from our Global Jobseeker Survey, we had to test if employer branded job ads would impact job application rates. We’ve tested functionally identical job postings and found that those which carry some fairly basic employer branding can yield a 50% higher conversion rate.

In some instances rising to a 134% increase in people applying for these positions.

Final Thoughts

When you think about it, it's not surprising why the data shows the significant impact a robust career center has on engagement. 

We've all searched for jobs at some point in our lives and it can be a daunting task. You read a job ad, then google the employer and scour the internet to form an opinion on if they're the right fit for you. You Google the latest trends in your industry to understand what technical skills employers may be looking for in their ideal candidate. You may even turn to LinkedIn Courses (formerly to quickly bring your skills up to speed.

Jobseekers jump from site to site to find resources and information when navigating their job search. If your association's careers site is not equipped with the various features a career center provides, your job board is no different from the 100,000 plus job boards available to jobseekers in the US alone.

A career center provides your community with a central hub for almost everything they need for their job search. This will not only attract more traffic and activity, but it also gives your community more touch points to engage with your organization.

But, beyond the KPI's and metrics, there's a much more important value a career center provides. It puts your association in a position to be there for your members, and wider community, when they need help the most. 

We're all trying to figure out how to strive during this new normal. The goal of any association is to be a leading resource for their industry and provide value for their community. Over the next few years, jobs and employment will continue to be a major concern for various industries as economic recovery is a long-term issue. 

Be there for your community by making their job search easier, more intuitive, and centralized by evolving from a job board to an advanced career center.

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