3 ways to transition your association’s career center from free to fee.

Every day, associations offer free job postings to members. They consider this a member benefit and are afraid charging members to post jobs will result in fewer jobs posted to their board and members not renewing their membership. Yet, we’ve reported success with hundreds of associations making the transition from free to fee, among them an HR association which increased its career center’s gross revenue by nearly $15,000 year over year when it began charging members for postings.

Your members do understand the more money you bring in to the association, the more services and programs you can offer them. This is especially true if your association is known for providing relevant online learning, after-hours events and CME opportunities.

Here are three approaches your association can take to transition your career center from free to fee, while also keeping your members happy and engaged.

1. Offer members a discount code for posting jobs. Providing a discount code for job postings allows members to still feel like they are getting a deal on job postings just for being members. Consider this discount when setting your price. The member discount can be in the form of “X” free postings per member or a percentage off each time a member makes a purchase.

2. Provide members with free upgrades. Allowing free upgrades is effective if you have a smaller member base, because upgrades tend to lose their novelty if too many people are using them. Provide free spotlight flags to members to help their jobs stand out on the job board. Offer them a certain number of featured upgrades per year, which puts their job into widgets, newsletters and job flashes so they get in front of the maximum number of job seekers. Either of these options can be done with minimal maintenance from your association.

3. Gradually increase the fee. Some associations choose to gradually increase the fee by announcing they are moving from a free service to a pay-per-posting service within the next three to six months. During this time, they post their price on the career center, but offer time to those who have already been posting on the board to transition from free to fee. During this time, they allow the individuals who have been actively posting for six months up to one year prior to the transition with a special code which allows them to continue posting for free. This provides the employers with the opportunity to prepare for the added expense while still using the career center during the transition. New employers, of course, will pay the advertised price, because they have never previously taken advantage of your center.

Clearly transitioning from one career center platform to another is the ideal time to transition from free to fee. But, what if you are already using a platform you love and you don’t have plans to change? How then do you pitch the increase to your members?

When you stay on the same platform, the best way to help employers and members understand the increase in fees is to remind them of the relevant programs and services you are currently offering and share with them some goals for the future. Help them understand the added value you can provide with the additional revenue.

If you aren’t taking advantage of the best practices your job board provider offers, be sure to reach out to your provider to discuss them. Ensuring you are following best practices helps the individuals in those roles work with you more effectively by seeing how staff respond to proven tools and practices other associations use. Once you have these practices in place, they can tailor the experience to your association and provide more strategic recommendations for more efficiently reaching your audience.

In the end, think about your association and your members and then move forward with the plan you think works best. If you are stuck, need more guidance or want to talk it through with someone who works with career centers daily, let’s set up a time to talk so you can start delivering additional revenue and increasing those programs and services.

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