Arming Our Industries to Compete in the War for Talent


Image credit: A detail from the north wall of Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry. Diego Rivera, 1932. Detroit Institute of Arts


"Associations stand at the industry crossroads of the workforce as well as global, social and technological change." 1

As champions of the industries we serve, associations are uniquely positioned to help our members attract and retain talent amidst the most significant labor shortage the US has experienced in fifty years. Inspired by conversations with dozens of members in recent weeks and the critical work you're doing, this week's blog features tactics members are using to arm your industries for the war for talent. Review the list to pick up an idea or two that could be adapted for your industry, and consider sharing what's working for your association in the comments. 

  1. Conduct the research and analysis necessary to understand the issue within your industry and communicate its significance to policymakers, potential partners, and funders. Get very clear on the factors influencing your industry's pipeline for talent.
  2. Define and communicate the shared values of your industry to inform outreach efforts, e.g., integrity, relationships, trust, preservation, etc. 
  3. Arm your members with up-to-the-minute recruiting, compensation, and benefits data so they can compete.
  4. Focus recruitment efforts on where industry prospects can be found: CTE centers, high school career days, colleges, universities, etc. 
  5. Form strategic partnerships to reduce barriers to entry into the industry, e.g., cost, duration, prerequisites, etc., related to apprenticeship, certification, and licensure.
  6. Invest in enhancements to career services and/or your industry job board to increase visibility and lead capture. 
  7. Explore partnerships with potential HR/search firms to build specialized recruiting expertise specific to your industry. Help members cultivate ongoing relationships with candidates. 
  8. Coordinate a public relations campaign that promotes the industry via print and digital media, curriculum resources, retargeting ads, etc.  
  9. Elevate personal stories/testimonials from the industry with key messages, e.g., quality of life, work-life balance, rewarding work, community impact, personal growth, etc. Promote via social media posts to reach target demographic.
  10. Work with licensing agencies, regulatory entities and/or policymakers to negotiate reciprocity agreements with other states. 
  11. Develop plug-and-play intern and mentorship programs that members can quickly implement.  
  12. Help your members help themselves with templates and step-by-step plans for recruitment, hiring, and onboarding. 

Associations are in the front lines of the war for talent. These tactics and many others will be crucial to helping to close the labor gap. We'd love to hear how your association is assisting members with the labor shortage. 

1 Radwan, S., editor. (2021). Professional practices in association management, 4th ed. ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership.