There are countless associations available for professionals to join. Some are industry specific, some target particular demographics, and they range in size, cost and exclusivity. The key is to not only pick the right association(s) for your goals and but also utilize the membership(s) effectively.
Four Reasons to Augment Your Job Search Efforts with Memberships to Professional Associations
1. Job Search Tools
Job seekers can often turn to professional associations for assistance when seeking out new career opportunities. For example, they provide insight into topics of importance to members. Many offer general job search tips and services; e.g. updating resumes, crafting cover letters and negotiation tactics. They often have job boards, membership directories and platforms which allow members to create member profiles and/or post their resumes in their systems.
2. Education and Certifications
Members can often fill knowledge gaps through an association’s educational offerings. Take advantage publications, webinars and courses that provide industry-specific insights and learning opportunities. Some associations even provide discounts on certifications and other educational opportunities to its members!
3. Networking Events
Many professional associations host events that job seekers can attend. These events can range in scope from national trade shows to local education sessions. Some even have recreational networking opportunities – such as golf tournaments – or industry related volunteer opportunities that could allow you to gain and/or grow job related skills!
4. Ongoing Career Development
Professional associations often provide a variety of career resources to members. Many of the same tools and resources that help job seekers in their efforts to find new opportunities, help the happily employed develop professionally. Continue to take advantage of your memberships’ benefits throughout your career.
Three Tips to Picking the Best Professional Associations for Your Career Goals
1. Limit Yourself
Joining a plethora of organizations might seem like the fastest way to see positive results, but it can easily backfire. Memberships can be costly, both monetarily and from a time commitment standpoint as well. A job search is already taxing, be careful not to spread yourself too thin. Plus, an excessive number of memberships could be perceived as fluff for your resume.
2. Consider Your Options
Even if your immediate objective is to join professional associations to expedite your job search, you should look further into the future. Ideally you will join groups that will enable you to develop along your career path long after your job search has concluded. When looking at your options, consider questions such as:
- What type of professional organization is this?
- What is its reputation?
- Who are its other members?
- How big is its membership base and where are they located?
- Does it have local chapters?
- How active is the association and its members?
- How could it aid in your job search?
- Does it offer networking opportunities?
- Does it offer continuing education?
- Does it offer certifications?
- How much does it cost?
Follow and interact with professional associations of interest and its members on social media. As you will learn a great deal about each organization’s interests, values and resources, it should help in your decision making process. Consider continuing your efforts even if you decided to forego a membership. Over time it will show potential recruiters and hiring managers that you are knowledgeable in job-related topics and interested in advancing your career in the industry.