Hitting The Target: Using Professional Associations To Create A Staffing Competitive Advantage: A Blog Series

Introduction:

Throughout the Centuries - Archers have pulled back their bows in an effort to hit the target.  Their approach evolved with time in how they saw the target, honed in on it, and set the tone for their approach to perfectly hitting the center.  Recruiting I am afraid is much like archery.  Hitting the target in staffing is a bigger picture affair, not just a singular event in a one requisition fill.  Rather with multiple positions supporting your overall business strategy - recruiting remains an important endeavor for all businesses.  Over the next few weeks I will highlight why I feel Professional Associations hold the key for uncertain recruiting times, when business tools shifting as they have in recent months, doing a reset of sorts on how we view the bigger recruiting picture.  I will address how Professional Associations can help you maintain a competitive edge on the recruiting big picture, and set your tone to talent acquisition success.

As this interesting year progresses there have been a lot of interesting changes in the Talent Acquisition/Recruiting World.  Which leaves many of us scratching our heads to wonder: What Happens Next?

With so many changes and tools consolidating, oh what is one to do in their strategy, their approach to their Recruiting/Talent Acquisition targeting?  I'll get to that in a moment.  But so much of recruiting remains as a contact sport, engaging the talent before the need arises, staying current on the networking scene and staying at the forefront and hitting the target.  This summer as an example I have witnessed on several occasions the power of what is in my mind a "silver bullet" in our modern recruiting environment. 

Let me take a few moments and highlight the uncertainty of how hitting the Talent Acquisition target as a recruiter and sourcer may become more difficult in the months ahead by highlighting some of the news recently.  If you have been paying attention this is the year of acquisitions.  And by this, taking control of your staffing desk by being even more creative to areas your competitors may neglect may be your way of differentiation, and taking a strategic approach that can change the whole of the staffing scene.  And without further ado, the news:

  • Connectifier was acquired by LinkedIn in February 2016.
  • In June - LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft in a 26 Billion Dollar Deal.
  • In August Monster was acquired by Randstad in a 400 Million Dollar Deal
  • Simply Hired was acquired by Indeed.com in July - owned by Recruit Holdings.
  • Finally there are rumblings that Careerbuilder will be possibly acquired as well.

Now - as matters change in our world, and as companies strive to find the best and most strategically important talent, purple squirrels as we affectionately refer to them, it is an important time to consider alternatives to the tools that the crowd may be using (LinkedIn, Indeed, GitHub, CareerBuilder, Monster et al).  Where can you differentiate, where can you find the talent that others simply aren't going for?  Where can you engage talent better than anywhere else?  Professional Associations are the key.

Let me highlight the basic mechanics of a Professional Association for a moment:

1. A Professional Association is a body of like minded professionals whom set criteria for their profession, and discipline in industry, they may also go by Trade Group.

2. A Professional Association sponsors events, cutting edge conferences, and local networking in a personalized manner.

3.  A Professional Association is typically supported by interested Companies whom can sponsor, and build trust with those organizations.  The leaders of the organization typically represent a wide variety of industry players.

4.  A Professional Association has a built in support mechanism, has conference lists, membership databases, supported job boards, and other tools for professionals of like mindedness.

5.  A Professional Association typically has a board of directors, local chapters, and other built in networking components.

6. A Professional Association often has the "leading candidates" in your industry that are most sought after and cutting edge in their space.

Now - take a look at the above, and let me ask you.  Do the 6 components above seem compelling?  Do they appear powerful as a strategic investment your company may wish to make?  Absolutely.

What follows are the topics I will address further in this series starting with the first topic below (tonight) with some tips and tricks for engaging Professional Associations and being top of mind for your candidate pools of choice:

Topic 1 (see below): Insights on Strategies to Engage and Build Trust with Professional Associations.

Topic 2: The Trends and Future of Professional Associations

Topic 3: How to Source using Professional Associations

Topic 4: How to Approach/Engage Candidates From Professional Associations

Topic 5: How to Find Contact Information for Members of Professional Associations

Topic 6: How Job Seekers Can Utilize Professional Associations to Advance Their Careers

TOPIC 1: Insights On Strategies to Engage and Build Trust with Professional Associations

You no doubt want to be the top of the food chain in your industry.  As companies innovate, it is vital the top Leadership of your company engages professional associations immediately.  Wikipedia has done a wonderful job of summarizing many of the Professional Associations in the United States today:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Professional_associations

Search through the listing and find some of the top Professional Associations for your Industry Category.  Note the Professional Association's Website.  You will see the following:

1. A local chapter listing with local subgroups often with their own leaders, job boards, and networking options.  This is a vital thing to understand.  Professional Associations like to have hubs of like minded professionals.  It is here where many for those skill sets will often congregate in once a month networking meetings.  Your goal is to attend those meetings, get to know the leaders, and build a strategic relationship.

2. Once you have the leadership contact info (often on the website), reach out as an organization to the leadership of the professional association.  Offer to take the leader or President of the Association to lunch or coffee, and Build a Relationship of Trust.  Have your CEO and Company Leadership become regular attendees of the group at both local and national events.  This will enable you to build trust and become a sponsor of the events.  Have your thought leaders blog, and show value added content to the Professional Association's mission, vision and values.  Doing this will set your company apart.  As a Recruiting/Talent Acquisition organization offer to have resume review, and career growth/interviewing workshops or some presentation with the organization's blessing.  Do attend career fairs, post your jobs to the professional associations website, and provide value add to the organization's needs.  This is vital for differentiation success, and must be built over the long haul.  By taking these steps above, the Professional Association becomes a partner to your company's Talent Acquisition mission.

3.  Seek out attendee lists, use the Professional Association as a means of ice-breaking, and building a connection to the candidates. 

4.  The Professional Association will often have a membership database as part of membership in the organization.  Join the organization for a ready solution to resume database needs, and sourcing.  The Professional Association may have a LinkedIn OR Facebook group, and possibly a Twitter handle.  Use these social tools to build trust with their communities.

5. As you attend Trade Shows, OR Conferences of the Professional Association, you will begin to notice patterns.  By attending the Association's events often you will have competitive knowledge at crucial times.

6. Perhaps you can invite the Professional Association to have some of their meetings on your corporate campus, building, or work space. Giving them a venue will connect them with your company's unique needs and culture.

As your trust with the Professional Association/Trade Organization grows, so too will the method of working with the team there.  Setting your company apart from the competition by serving the Association's interests is a way to get recognized as an industry leader.  By supporting the Association's Professional Certifications and consistently showing support in hiring a candidate by recognizing networking resources, Recruiting Departments will have more success in staffing.  By taking these steps the Professional Association's CEO will generally show an interest.

Professional Associations whom sponsor different organization events and certifications relevant to the organization are an important investment.  College Interns could be available to help you find your staffing success as you hone in on Professional Association's committed to developing young professionals.  Talent before the need arises. Remember as well that Professional Associations/Trade Groups help build diverse talent pools.

It is without hesitation that I say that Professional Associations matter, to their regions, their infrastructure et al, these are the tools to be successful with as well as the networking infrastructure that helps build the strength of the whole idea.

Professional Associations are wonderful pools of talent, so keep an eye out for the next Association Meeting, and keep connection to successful entrepreneurs.

Finally like minded individuals make a major difference in staffing.

I look forward to sharing Part II very soon!  Join me in hitting the target.

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