Career Journeys Have Been Derailed. Here’s How Associations Can Fix Them.

A turnkey tech solution to become the go-to career hub for members.

Whether you are a massive corporation or a small neighborhood bakery, there is a simple formula for bringing in new customers and keeping them coming back for more: Give people what they want.

That part is simple. Figuring out what they want, however, isn’t always quite so easy. But in the case of associations, our study of more than 1,000 members revealed a resounding answer to what members are looking for when they sign up: career opportunities. In fact, 76 percent of those we surveyed said that training and networking were the top reasons they joined their association. And while the pandemic has certainly caused uncertainty in the career journey for members at all levels, this desire for help is nothing new. Previous years’ studies show that career advancement has always been the single biggest driver of new member sign-ups and retention.

This is great news for associations that have focused on the career journey of their members, but as our study reveals, many organizations have not. Only 28 percent of those surveyed said they were happy with their organization’s career-oriented efforts, citing poor job board experiences and trouble connecting training to practical job advancement.

As much as members want these kinds of services, in our study, a mere 19 percent of association professionals said they considered job searches as an important benefit. That is a huge disconnect and, perhaps most critically, fails to recognize that 41% of new members join within one to five years of employment. This pool of people is just starting out in the workforce and eager to climb. Not meeting their expectations will drive them to career-focused social media channels like LinkedIn for guidance and leads and ultimately result in lapsed memberships.

Here are three key elements your association should focus on to grow and retain membership in 2021.

1. Career insights

While professionals who have been working in their industry for many years feel like they know the lay of the land, those just starting out need guidance. They want relevant content and reliable information, including government estimates for future job creation by role and location. They want to know compensation ranges, firsthand descriptions of jobs they might want, and what knowledge, skills, and education levels they’ll need to obtain them. Remember that for new members in the first stage of their career, they don’t know the possibilities in their field. Assist them in finding opportunities that align with their interests, education level, and working style.

2. Expert advice

Generic career and resume advice is just that: generic. Your members need niche guidance and coaching that is hyper-specific to your industry. Providing planning resources and one-on-one expert sessions (which can be gated or ungated) are benefits that newcomers and long-time members alike will want to engage with. The advice of someone who has walked the path a young professional is just starting out on is an invaluable asset to any career journey.

3. Career roadmap

In times good and bad, the future can seem foggy. The question of “Where is this all going?” is one that people in all professions ask themselves. While your association doesn’t have a crystal ball, it does have unparalleled experience and knowledge of your industry. Detailing the skills, certifications, and recommended/required courses members need to obtain to make that next step on their path to success will build trust and loyalty for years to come.

The reality is that not every association has the resources to guide members on every step of their career journey, which is why Community Brands launched the Career Planning Portal, an unmatched career resource that helps members research, plan, and develop their careers based on data and trending and forecasting insights. The Career Planning Portal is a turnkey way to instantly give members access to a dynamic career center that gives them the guidance they need and strengthens your position as the go-to resource for the professionals you serve.


This article was brought to you by Community Brands, the leading provider of cloud-based software to associations. Click here to read more about our Association Trends 2020: From Disruption to Opportunity.

(Community Brands)