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At the start of 2014, much of the news about the changes on the horizon for the job market was promising, especially for associations with a job board strategy for their members and organization. Hiring was predicted to pick up, even for recent college graduates entering the workforce.

Those predictions have proven to be correct. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2014 report, there has been a surge in employment, with 217,000 new jobs added to the economy in May, the fourth straight month to show 200,000+ job gains.

The areas with the largest increases were professional and business services, and health care and social assistance. These groups resulted in over 110,000 jobs. Historically, these areas have been strongholds within the ranks of associations – good news.

At the end of 2013, many analysts predicted that LinkedIn would capitalize on this new wave of growth. David Meier, Associate Advisor with the Motley Fool, claimed that LinkedIn was poised to become a disruptive force in the traditional job search market in 2014. Their goal was to quickly position itself as “the place to go not only to find a new job, but become better at the job you are currently in.” And LinkedIn claimed it will actually make finding a job in the future that much easier.

Meier added that LinkedIn “has a very engaged group of users and they have recruiters coming to the site to find people for their job openings. That attracts more users, which attracts more recruiters. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

He’s correct. There are currently 100 million LinkedIn users in the US alone, with 40 percent of them checking LinkedIn daily. And recruiters are coming to find candidates for their open positions. Over 90 percent use LinkedIn to vet their candidates.

And what is LinkedIn doing to ensure that cycle becomes an infinite loop? They are making sure there is a large amount of relevant content available for anyone to digest. Their goal is to be the de facto standard for where someone goes to find a job. Earlier in the year we profiled this in our webinar, Social Networking, Mission Creep, and the 2014 Job Market.

Low and behold an email landed in my inbox this week from none other than LinkedIn inviting me to download the new iOS Job Search app. The tag line on the email was “Now, opportunity doesn’t just knock. It also sends notifications.” Very clever. Very concerning. They are moving fast as predicted.

Consider for a moment that I am a basic LinkedIn user. I use the basic free service and have never tried to search for employment by registering for their value add service. And yet, they sent me three emails this week about employment opportunities lining up with my profile.

Associations need to take the offensive to maintain their influence in the marketplace by not giving up the job board market to powers like LinkedIn. Niche job boards (like an association career center) are still highly attractive to job seekers, recruiters and employers.

According to US News and World Report, industry specific job boards are more useful to employers than non-specific larger job boards. They state that “smaller companies in particular often prefer using niche boards to find applicants because they tend to get responses from higher quality candidates, which means they have to sift through fewer applications to find the right hire.”

While there are many niche job boards available to job seekers and employers, associations providing a career center to their members and industry offer a unique value that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. The level of commitment and domain expertise from association members is a valuable asset that should not be overlooked by employers seeking the most qualified candidates for their open positions.

And purposely left out of these facts up until now is the non-dues revenue your organization can be earning through an online job board.  Our experience tells us that employers are more than willing to pay to list and advertise their targeted opportunities to members and prospective members, all while creating a steady stream of non-dues revenue for the association. Online career centers connect an association’s members and prospects to the top employers and opportunities within their industry, helping to build greater member loyalty and engagement.

To figure out where your association needs to be in this picture requires a solid, well designed strategy, not a shoot from the hip plan of action. There’s no need to panic, but there is reason to react with purpose. It is difficult to regain influence once you lose it.