A professional association is an organization whose members have similar credentials or professional interests.
For example, the American Marketing Association is the leading national organization for marketing professionals, and the American Bar Association is the leading association for attorneys.
Joining a professional association will help you not only in your job search, but also throughout your career. Even if you already belong to an association, read on for tips on how to use your membership to enhance your job search.
Why Join a Professional Association?
You will gain access to a number of people in your industry with whom you can discuss the industry, and who may be able to give you career advice.
Associations also hold a number of meetings and conferences. Not only are these valuable places for networking, but they also offer seminars on career development and industry trends.
Members can gain more industry insight through an association’s publications, such as a trade journal or newspaper. Reading about industry trends will provide you with excellent industry information that might be useful during a job interview.
Many associations also have online job databases where members can post resumes and search job openings related specifically to their industry.
Tips for Selecting a Professional Association
Not all professional associations are created equal. Ask former colleagues or other associates in your industry which associations they would recommend (this is a great question to ask during an information interview).
If you find an association of interest, see if there is a regional chapter near you that you can join. Belonging to a local chapter will make it easier for you to attend events and meet people in your area.
You do not need to join every association related to your industry, nor should you. This would be spreading yourself too thin, and would likely cost more money and take up more time than it would be worth. Instead, find one association that fits your professional needs.
What to Do When You Join
When you become a member of an association, check the association’s website for upcoming events or conferences. Attend a local event, and strike up conversation with other members (be sure to bring your business cards!).
Begin with light conversation, and then bring up your job search. Remember, you are there to gain information about the industry and add contacts, so do not spend too much time dwelling on your need for a job.
If there is a job search database on the association’s website, post your resume and look for any interesting job openings. If you’ve networked with anyone who works for a company with a job opening, get in touch with them and see if they can recommend you for the job or give you any inside information.
Continue to utilize your association’s resources throughout the rest of your job search, and throughout your career.