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Four Hiring Tweaks to Attract All-Star Association Staff

Four Hiring Tweaks to Attract All-Star Association Staff

Associations face unique challenges when it comes to staffing. In a tight labour market like Canada is experiencing right now, the competition for great candidates is fierce. For-profit businesses with bigger budgets can make hiring for your association feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. 

The good news is that it’s not always all about the money. Associations who get strategic with their hiring efforts can not only compete with the businesses for in-demand talent — they can even win. Here are four ways:

  1. Use Jobseeker Keywords

To compete for candidates, associations need to leverage low-cost ways to get job openings in front of more target candidates.

Getting strategic with keywords for the advertised position is one of the best ways to improve your reach and it costs nothing. Ensuring that the job title and the job ad contain the words your ideal candidate would type into a job site search bar will maximize the number of views your job gets. You’d be surprised at how many companies don’t know this trick.

Keep in mind, if the job you’re advertising for blends multiple functions you’ll need to research keywords for each function. As the world’s most popular job site, Indeed can be an excellent resource for getting insights into the most searched job titles. Simply search for keywords and see how many jobs you’re competing with.

Another thing to consider as you create your job title is whether your ideal candidates come from the for-profit or not-for-profit world. Ensure your job title uses keywords that are similar to those used in your target industry. If your ideal candidate could come from either for-profit or not-for-profit, then use both job titles. Pepper the job ad with those keywords as well to increase the chances it shows up in search results.

Remember, when it comes to job titles, nothing is written in stone. A keyword-intensive and search-friendly job title is the bait.  You can include the “official” job title in the body of the ad or, as you work your way through the candidate selection process, communicate the fact that the official title is slightly different. This is very common.

Offering the successful candidate a chance to craft a job title that works for them can also be an added perk that could set you apart from the competition.

  1. Shift to Words That Woo

If your association’s job postings focus on describing your organization and what the job is, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to stand out. The best way to attract quality candidates is with a job ad that compels candidates to want to apply with strong what’s-in-it-for-me messaging.

Cindy Gonsalves, Director of Finance and Operations for the Consulting Engineers of Ontario, says, “We were completely guilty of the mistake that a lot of associations make, which is posting a job description instead of a job ad. When we partnered with Fitzii, our hiring advisor helped shift our focus to what would make the role most attractive to candidates. Selling the position from the candidate’s perspective has made a huge impact on the quality of candidates that are applying.”

Just how big of a difference can transitioning from job descriptions to job ads have? Our experience helping organizations make this shift has shown that compelling ad copy that sells your organization from a candidate’s perspective can generate three times more qualified candidates. Get some of our best tips for writing successful job ads in this article.

As an association, don’t overlook the unique things that job seekers may not be able to find in a position with a for-profit business. Here are some thought starters:

  • What people would be passionate about serving your members and purpose?
  • Will working with your association allow them to make a meaningful impact?
  • Does your organization’s size allow for a higher level of impact and involvement?
  • Will working on a small but mighty team offer many diverse tasks and opportunities?
  1. Cast a Wide Net

Once you’ve settled on your strategic job title and crafted a job ad that will win hearts, it’s time to share the news about your open position in a big, broad way. Relying on a “one-and-done” approach to job boards is a huge mistake. Associations that want to reach the largest possible number of qualified candidates need to cast a wide net by posting their job ads on multiple job sites.

According to Brian O'Riordan, Registrar for the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario, the CSAE job board AssociationJobs.ca is a great channel to an engaged audience:

“We think posting on AssociationJobs.ca makes an awful lot of sense because many of the associations and regulatory agencies are already members. It’s a direct route to a group of really strong potential candidates.”

In addition to job boards, be sure to share news about your open position through channels that will encourage word-of-mouth referrals. Your association’s social media channels are an obvious choice but don’t stop there. Get the word out in your member newsletter. Current association employees can also serve as great sources for referrals. Craft an email to send to employees that they can easily forward to their peers.

  1. Know Your Numbers

Benchmarking salaries for similar positions is an important step to help ensure all those candidates you’ve attracted through your strategic job title, compelling job ad and smart distribution plan don’t run for the hills when they discover the proposed salary.

CSAE’s annual compensation report is a great tool that offers up-to-date salary information that specifically reflects what’s happening within the Canadian association landscape.

“The CSAE compensation report has become a very popular tool.  The association sector is broad. We’re not just not-for-profits, we’re not just public interest groups, some have memberships that are legally required, others are voluntary. The report reflects that diversity. It offers organizations a true lens of real-world compensation for Canadian associations to help leaders who are building or making shifts to their team, not just recruit the best talent, but also help retain their current staff,” says Tracy Folkes Hanson, President and CEO of the Canadian Society of Association Executives.

About the author


Katherine Taylor has spent the last 20 years in the recruitment industry helping clients hire better, primarily with small to mid-sized businesses. She has worked in traditional recruitment firms but now finds her home at Fitzii, an alternative to traditional agencies.  Working with Fitzii for the last 5 years Katherine has loved partnering with associations and regulators saving them time and money with Fitzii’s hiring services. To learn more about Fitzii’s unique offering for CSAE members, which includes a complimentary $400 posting on AssociationJobs.ca, please visit https://www.fitzii.com/go/csae/ 



hiring, recruitment, compensation





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