Recruiting with Professional Societies and Associations

Everybody in the industry knows that in order to be a successful recruiter you need to be involved in the professional communities of your target candidates. By this I mean attending relevant industry events, being involved in the right LinkedIn groups, advertising on the correct sites and connecting with the key candidates in your industry. The more engaged a recruiter is in these environments the more likely they are to be successful. Before you switch off, on account of my stating the incredibly obvious, please bear with me….

How many recruiters actively engage with the professional bodies that represent their chosen vertical markets? In my experience this is a relationship which has traditionally been underdeveloped and yet has the potential to provide huge benefits to both parties.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example, say, The British Society of Clinical Research. A prestigious brand with an engaged membership of 33,000 professionals in the UK, its journal, website and resources are the ‘Go to’ place in the clinical research industry. Surely this hypothetical society would be the ideal partner for both employers and recruiters in the Clinical Research space? What great access to a highly qualified passive audience and prestigious brand association!

In practice however, these relationships are few and far between. This despite the fact that many societies and associations are facing an increasing amount of pressure on their traditional revenue streams and are looking to build new ones as a result. As non-profit organisations whose primary income has traditionally been via subscriptions and print advertising, societies have lagged behind other organisations in developing a strong digital offering and corresponding revenue stream. As the overwhelming majority of recruitment now takes place online these societies have been missing out on their slice of the recruitment pie. This isn’t to say that recruiters and employers don’t work with societies, a number do, but not with the same level of engagement as with other professional communities. I would attribute this to under developed digital recruitment platforms and an focus on alternative revenue streams.

The good news is that this is now changing – and fast.

Just as traditional journal and newspaper publishers have had to innovate and develop online communities, societies and associations are now following suit. Online Careers Centres have the dual benefits of providing a valuable service to members and create a new online revenue stream for the society. With the highly engaged communities that these organisations serve they are likely to have a significant advantage in building strong recruitment propositions and open the door to recruitment consultancies serving their respective marketplaces.

In my experience there is a high degree of prestige and pride in belonging to a professional body and perhaps the biggest new development society career centres will bring to online recruitment space is the re-emergence of brand association as a force in recruitment.  

I believe there is a huge opportunity for recruiters here, and my advice would be to start building relationships with the professional bodies in your industry.

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