By Carlos Restrepo, MS, CAE
Chief Revenue Officer
Our discussion about the Business of Certification during the past several weeks has included five suggestions for increasing the number of revenue streams available to certification boards. We’ve talked about creating new partnerships and a pipeline for new candidates. This week, I’d like to explore the role boards can play in the career development of its certificants.
Let me say upfront that I value the mission that guides most boards – to protect the public and to raise the level of professionalism of its practitioners. In many ways, certification boards are the caretakers of their industries. Awarding credentials, however, is not the end goal. The credentialing process is one of the tools boards use to fulfill their missions of advancing the profession.
… boards are in the perfect position to help their certificants find their next jobs, but more importantly, to help them develop satisfying, productive careers.
Boards establish the benchmarks for professional knowledge, skill, and expertise, and they update their certification requirements regularly, ensuring that certificants stay current as industries evolve. That is why I believe boards are in the perfect position to help their certificants find their next jobs, but more importantly, to help them develop satisfying, productive careers.
“Wait a minute,” you might say, “we already have a jobs board. Isn’t that enough?”
The short answer is “no.” Here’s why.
Why Job Boards Aren’t Enough
Both general job boards, from Career Builder to Indeed to LinkedIn, and specialized job boards, like LawJobs and RecruitMilitary, have one thing in common – they are open to everyone. When they offer career guidance, they offer advice generalized for all the industries and positions on their site.
On the other hand, job sites hosted by certification boards can be much more effective for both job seekers and job posters. If an organization needs someone with specialized knowledge and skills, their search on a certification site would yield the best possible candidates – those who have already earned their certification.
Similarly, when job seekers review open positions posted by certification boards, they know their credentials will help them stand out. It’s an important distinction.
Gaining a competitive edge is one of the top ten reasons professionals seek certification, according to the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association. According to the DATIA website, “Certification gives you the ‘edge’ when being considered for a promotion or other career opportunities. Certification clearly identifies you as an employee who can adapt to changes in work, technology, business practices, and innovation.”
Boards that host specialized platforms to connect job seekers with organizations are already a step ahead. I believe, however, that boards have more to offer to professionals than just the next job.
Why Career Paths Provide More Than Just the Next Job
First, what is a career path and why is it valuable?
WorkforceHub defines a career path as: “… an advancement roadmap with short- and long-term benchmarks. It maps the route an employee takes from a lower-level position through successive occupations to arrive at their ultimate goal.”
Career paths, the company says, help you retain the best employees, give them a sense of purpose, and attract top achievers. As a board, your goals will be at a higher level than any one company. Rather than trying to retain the best employees for a single organization, you would be working to retain the best professionals within an entire industry.
And as those professionals move through different stages in their careers, they would need different services from your career center. At the start of a career, professionals need to establish their credentials with work and certification, and to develop a career path. Individuals later in their careers might need help to transition to positions with higher responsibility. Finally late in a career, a professional may need help planning their last positions.
Exactly what a career center offers would be different from industry to industry. Any career center might include written materials, videos, or training classes in supplementary areas such as interpersonal skills, management, team building, or ethics. Your board might be able to offer micro-credentials in these areas, creating a new revenue stream.
If mentors are popular in your industry, you can offer continuing education credit to those servings as mentors. You can offer similar arrangements to instructors in your career courses.
Choosing the Right Job Board Provider
If you’ve ever Googled ‘Job Board Software,’ you were probably overwhelmed at the number of vendors in this industry. But, as mentioned above, not all job boards are created equal, nor are all job board vendors offering the same level of user-friendly, technically superior career center solutions.
Dawn DiLorenzo, Director of Marketing at YM Careers advises, “When looking for the right job board vendor, there are a number of factors to consider. Does your targeted vendor:
- provide a site that reflects your brand? Logos, colors, imagery and other brand elements should be a part of your career center, and you should not have to pay for basic customizations.
- offer easy to understand cost options? A monthly flat fee or a revenue share arrangement for media sales (explained below) are just a couple of the options your vendor should offer.
- support its customers with world-class customer service, sales, marketing support? Find a career center vendor who collaborates as an extension of your team to help you develop marketing strategies that enhance member engagement and job board sales.
Once you have the right technology in place, here are three tips for driving revenue from your career center:
- Promote jobs on your home page, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. Employers are often willing to pay extra for exclusive access and distribution of their jobs to passive industry professionals they cannot reach through other channels.
- Introduce a dedicated job email to your members. Featuring jobs in a dedicated email newsletter distributed to thousands of active and passive job seekers on a monthly or bi-monthly basis gets those jobs in front of the perfect candidates. And is a powerful generator for your organization.
- With the backing of a dedicated and experienced sales team to get employers on board and a marketing team to promote your career center and increase traffic, you elevate your career center from a nice to have to a revenue generating powerhouse. And best of all, you don’t have the staff to do that work.
We work closely with YM Careers because they are the largest job board software vendor with nearly 3,000 association customers. YM Careers has paid customers more than $1 billion dollars in revenue from career center sales and has multiple 5-star reviews on Capterra.
Let’s Talk About the Business of Certification
The Business of Certification offers new sources of revenue for forward thinking boards. If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t rely on a single source of revenue and hope to weather coming storms. I believe that certification boards can attract more revenue that will allow them to offer new services to their industries, without compromising their mission.