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The current job market is unlike anything we’ve seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to re-prioritize their professional and personal goals and values, making it more important than ever to have a solid strategy when it comes to attracting talent for your association. 

While salary is still the primary consideration for job seekers, other aspects such as work/life balance, flexibility, growth opportunities and professional development, are increasingly more important. So how do you stand out from the crowd and attract the right talent for your association? The simplest way is to highlight your association’s qualities that differentiate it from others, showing top talent how you could help them achieve their goals. 

Check out these tips on finding the perfect fit for your association, so you can get started attracting top-tier talent today!

1. Educate Your Target Employee Audience

The Great Resignation has also been called The Great Re-Evaluation, which means many are completely changing careers. This could be an excellent opportunity for associations to reach a wider pool of fantastic talent. Especially as there is an increased emphasis on working for mission- and purpose-driven organizations, associations can be a very appealing place to work. 

The key here, though, is education and awareness. Many job seekers may not understand or be aware of what associations do or how they’re defined, but they shouldn’t be counted out. Individuals without prior industry experience can still make excellent hires.


Intro to Associations

The current job market is unlike anything we’ve seen before. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many to re-prioritize their professional and personal goals and values, making it more important than...

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2. Host an Open House 

As candidates look to find professional opportunities that are a good fit both personally and professionally, the more insight you can provide them into the inner workings of your association, the better. One great way to do this is by hosting an open house at your office or meeting space, where potential candidates can get an inside look into the way your association runs. If you are looking for a large pool of potential candidates, consider promoting your open house on social media. If your candidate pool is a bit more targeted, however, it may be best to personally invite individuals to sit in on an association meeting and see your space.

Don’t have a physical space to invite candidates to or recruiting candidates across a wide geographic range? No worries! Virtual happy hours and open houses can also be a rich way of providing valuable facetime between candidates and recruiters. 

3. Invite Candidates to Have Candid Conversations with Your Employees 

It can be assumed that, especially in recruitment scenarios, your association as an employer will focus on the positives when in discussions with potential talent. While not a bad thing, employer testimonials on themselves are often met with skepticism from candidates, who then try to find more authentic testimonials on the association through sites like Glassdoor. 

To create trust with your talent pool and provide them with valuable resources, lean into your existing employees and members for unfiltered testimonials. Don’t be afraid to connect them 1:1! This is also a great opportunity for your employees to answer some of your candidates’ questions. 

4. Leverage Employee and Member Referrals

Your current employees and members provide a valuable referral network when recruiting for new talent. According to HR Technologist, while general job board postings generate more job candidates, companies with employee referral programs have a 46% retention rate compared to 33% for those that don’t, so be sure to tap into individuals already within your association to guide you to top talent in the space.

5. Create a Network of Potential Hires

The key to long-term success in recruiting top talent for your association is to have a long-term approach instead of a short-term, reactive one. Before ever engaging potential candidates, build target profiles for the type of talent your association wishes to recruit. These candidate personas will help guide you through the recruitment process and will also help you identify candidates who — while maybe not a fit right now — could fit into your ideal persona in the future. Keep track of these individuals and reach out when looking for roles that suit their expertise!

Building a network of potential candidates is critical for long-term success and efficiency when recruiting. Be sure to look both internally and externally for candidates that fit your target profiles and keep up with their most recent accomplishments and professional experiences. 

6. Recruit within Schools

Speaking of building your network for long-term success, schools are a great way to efficiently target talent that is specifically interested in your association’s line of work. Students who are not able to work with your association full-time can still provide great value in intern or apprentice roles. These types of roles not only help you in the short term but assist in developing a robust pool of talent to reach out to later down the road. 

Depending on the level of expertise needed, dive into local colleges, universities and even high schools to uncover valuable long-term talent for your association.

7. Build an Amazing Company Culture and Promote It!

Company culture is an increasingly important aspect of the recruitment of top talent. Candidates are looking for a position that not only fuels their professional passions but fits into their lifestyle as well. The best way to attract candidates that will be a good fit for your association’s culture is by showing it off externally, whether through social media, your website, community involvement, or other means.

Be sure to clearly outline your association’s mission, vision and culture on your website. Create a dedicated space to share examples of your association’s culture shining through, and refer potential talent to this space when determining fit. This is another good opportunity to invite candidates to speak with your current employees about what it’s like working for your association and to provide an insider’s perspective of the culture. 

8. Be Communicative and Helpful Throughout the Recruitment Process

No one wants to work for an organization that ignores their emails. It may seem obvious, but top talent is attracted and retained at higher levels when a positive experience is provided by the association. This experience can begin even before the candidate recruitment process has officially started, so it’s important to use the tips above to create a positive reputation for your association as an employer. 

Once your candidate actually becomes a candidate, be sure to stay diligent when replying to communications, making them feel welcome during interviews and onsite, and staying professional during all interviews. The recruitment and interview process is a two-way conversation — the candidate is evaluating your association just as much as you are evaluating them!

Although the talent pool has evolved, best practices of recruiting top talent have largely stayed the same — they have just become more important than ever to keep up with! Stay consistent and authentic in your recruitment efforts and the ideal talent for your association will come. 

Emily Herrington
Post by Emily Herrington
February 1, 2022
Emily Herrington is a New Orleans-based digital marketer specializing in SEO, content, and pay-per-click advertising. She can usually be found at her desk obsessing over data and rankings, or in the kitchen covered in flour.