Reimagining your Professional Association as a Recruiter

I think bamboo is a fantastic material. From construction scaffolding, human edible food, and entire luxury houses, the grass has been employed in an endless variety of ways through some creative reimagining of what the material was and what role it could play.

The human brain does, in fact, act oddly when faced with different assumptions and frames. Simply asking a question in a different way, or considering a different perspective can derive a different result. Consider the following based on Kahneman & Tversky’s often cited study:

An outbreak threatens to kill 600 people. There are two possible courses of action:

  • Program A will save 200 people.
  • Program B has a ⅓ chance of saving everyone, and a ⅔ chance of saving no one.

Now, imagine the same scenario, but different options:

  • Program C will kill 400 people.
  • Program D has a ⅓ chance of saving everyone, and a ⅔ chance of saving no one.

All four plans theoretically deliver the same result – save 200 people – but 72% of those surveyed would choose program A over B (certainty instead of risk), yet 78% would choose program D over C (risk instead of certainty). The dramatic difference can be accounted for the way A and C are framed – one is positive and one is negative.

So for professional associations out there looking to do more for your membership and increase revenue: it’s time to reimagine your organization…as a recruiter.

The Common Ground

Recruiters spend a great deal of time and money to connect with candidates, add to their database, and protect that asset. After all, knowing and being able to reach the right talent is what agency recruiters are all about – the business is built on the relationships they have with their talent pool. Such a collection is an inextricable part of an agency’s viability, and the model falls apart without it.

The concept of a talent pool as an asset can also be applied to associations, who have an established membership base that they are responsible for promoting, branding, and whose interests they strive to safeguard. Marketing your constituency to employers in an effort to aid their careers makes a lot of sense as a function of the association.

It’s a Win-Win: Value added for your members; a revenue stream for you

While there are a number of reasons why one may join a professional association, they invariably relate back to one larger goal: career advancement and development. Providing recruitment services is a way for an organization to market its members in a way that’s congruent with the biggest reason why those members joined in the first place – a stronger career. It also serves as a way to monetize the talent capital of your constituency (who’s going to complain about that?)

Still an Incomplete Picture

So you’ve got a thriving collection of talent, but they are just a part of the equation. Every recruiter needs to have a book of client employers to complete the circle. It may be difficult to grab the attention of employers, but following these steps can get the snowball rolling.

  • What is your focus and niche? Are you an association of commercial photographers? Do you represent nurses within a particular geographical area? Whatever you specialize in, understanding the skills and problems that your membership solves is an important first step. Your subscribers have a common strength and skillset, so focus on how that specialization can help other businesses
  • Understand your client’s industry: You probably understand the industries in which your members operate in, but what about the employers you’re looking to sell to? What problems and obstacles are they facing, and how can your members help solve them?
  • Focus on delivering the goods: Delighting customers to the point where they refer you to others is certainly a powerful endorsement, and that’s no exception in the recruiting industry. It also never hurts to ask, “do you know anyone else with this problem?” Referrals are powerful.

So give it a try! Whatever business you happen to run – professional association or otherwise – try thinking of your organization as if it were something else, even if that something else seems totally unrelated. You just may be surprised by what you come up with.

The Careerleaf office is a great case study of reframing and reimagining. In our office, chocolate serves many different roles.

  • Our Sales and Marketing Director considers peanut M&Ms as a delivery system for protein.
  • Our CEO thinks of chocolate as a humane way to encourage productivity among her minions.
  • We all consider chocolate as a key part of our company’s cultural lifeblood and insider jokes.