How to Showcase Your Professional Affiliations on Your Resume

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

Are you thinking about applying for a new job? Do you plan to build a new resume for yourself? Apart from the education and experience fields, what else have you added? If your resume is not showcasing any professional affiliations then you are missing out on a big part.

Having professional memberships and associations mentioned in your resume can help you demonstrate how you are developing yourself and the network around you and how you are staying up to date with your profession. It shows the intent of seriousness that you have around your profession and how you want to help contribute to its overall development. Hiring managers these days look for resumes that have such affiliations and memberships listed. In many cases, just having a good education and experience is not enough – there is a lot of competition out there and to stand out, you will need to provide proof of personal development. Getting professional affiliations and certificates in a different field can also help you announce your intention of changing your career.

Using Professional Affiliations

One thing that you need to be sure of is the kind of impact you want from showcasing your professional affiliations. It might be that you belong to a professional organization or association but all that you really do is pay the annual dues to stay active. It be that you are an active member of the organization, who participates in its events, seminars and workshops. If you are active, you should try to list down all of the offices that you have held there. I expect a vice president of a professional body to brag about his/her journey. On the contrary, if you are an inactive member and mentioning the affiliation is just making your resume’s structure look bad then you might want to drop it. Each case is different – adding professional affiliations to your resume might make them more interesting but might not really add any value more than that. What you need to be sure of, however, is that you should always list down professional affiliations only if you believe it adds value and credibility to your resume. In fact, that should be your rule of thumb for adding anything in your resume – the “fluff” needs to go out. There is also no point in mentioning an organization that you are no longer a part of or are no longer active in, unless there has been an office held by you.

Being Careful with the Affiliations

I personally do not advice anyone to mention any associations or affiliations that are on religious, political, ethnic or racial grounds. There is bias and prejudice in all parts of the world – listing such associations might give your interviewing manager the reason to not call you for an interview. It is much easier to break stereotypes when you meet people in person; so try not to do anything that will stop you from getting that opportunity. Including your ethnic, racial, religious or political affiliation in the resume might help you in one way – if you are dead sure that by mentioning them, you are increasing your likelihood of getting hired. You should never include such associations if you intend to not work for someone with differing views. Keep in mind that we all are biased to some level, and most of the times just subconsciously. I recommend that you should aim to land the interview, get them to give you a job offer and only then decide if you would like to do the gig.

Focus on the Accomplishments

Another way in which you can demonstrate the importance of an affiliation to your resume is by highlighting any accomplishments that you have achieved with it. You might have been given the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership, project management and/or program management skills. You might have been appointed as the chair or co-chair of the committee where you achieved some great results for the association in your capacity. For example, as the program chair, you were able to engage with renowned speakers, resulting in increased attendance at meetings and seminars. You might have helped involve the minorities in your country to be part of the membership and take on leadership roles, making the association more diverse and inclusive. You might have coordinated a conference that was successful and positively received by the community. You need to ask yourself what your accomplishments have been in the professional affiliations and try to highlight those in your resume. Focus on how the particular organization was able to benefit from your efforts. Now you do not have to add complete essays on your accomplishments in the resume. Just mention the highlights in points and list down the details that you can then use in the interviews. While this part works well for people who have been in a powerful position in an organization, there still can be some accomplishments for you, irrespective of your seniority.

Types of Professional Affiliations

There is a variety of things you can include for your resume stand out. You do not have to look at just your formal education and experience. Understand that there is more to life than just your work and school and the hiring managers these days look for a well-rounded individual to be a part of their team. Below are all the things that you can include as professional affiliations:

  • Volunteer Work. This can include you being part of a sports league, helping at your church or dedicating your time at a local non-profit organization or hospital. Volunteer work helps you in demonstrating your leadership and project management skills. Some longer volunteer works can also be included in the “Experience” section of the resume. Again, list down your major accomplishments in bullets. It might be that you got the chance to learn specific technologies and/or acquired hard skills – all of this is good for your resume.
  • Professional Hobbies. You can include things like being part of professional societies for writers, photographers and/or computer programmers, etc. If you have a knack for writing and might have been featured in a local magazine, newspaper or website, then you can use this as a professional affiliation. Prepare a portfolio, listing down your most accomplished work and send it along with the resume. Sharing such information about yourself with the hiring managers will allow them to see your added skills that can be useful at the workplace. For example, if you have taken professional classes in photography or have been part of the local photographer societies, you might be approached to help them with a company-wide photoshoot of all employees. Or maybe your professional hobby is working other people to develop their leadership skills, such as being a business leadership coach? If so, use this experience to describe the difference you have made to the careers of other people and the way you achieved it.
  • Non-Professional Experiences. Do not be confused by the “Non-Professional” element here. If you have studied abroad as part of a student exchange program or have done side jobs or even managed your own blog that has had great results, you can include this in professional affiliations. Such affiliations will showcase your desire to take initiatives and how you effectively do time management. Do not forget to mention any languages that you might have learnt in the process (especially if you studied abroad). Knowing multiple languages is a HUGE plus at a workplace.
  • Nationwide/International Projects. Just like studying abroad, you can include other projects that you might have done at a national or international level. These can be a non-profit cause, open-source projects or athletic activities that helped you represent your country. Such professional affiliations will indicate your personality and culture fit. Employers these days are on a constant lookout for not another employee who can punch the clock, rather someone who can fit perfectly with the organizational culture and can help the company get recognition. Now I do not suggest that you go full ballistic with the projects that you have done or are a part of and just focus on the few top projects. Again, you list down all the things that you have done separately and mention them in detail when giving the interview.
  • Professional Certifications. You can also include any professional certifications that you might have under your belt, such as the marketing diplomas offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) or the Inbound Marketing certifications offered by Hubspot. All of these bodies have a dedicated community that holds regular meetings, conferences and seminars. Showcasing your professional certifications will help the hiring manager understand how you are serious about your Continued Professional Development. Employees these days look for individuals who are constantly equipping themselves with strong skills that can help them develop as professionals. Do check this Wikipedia page on the List of International Professional Associations.

There you have it – my tips on how you can showcase your professional affiliations. Do you have any tips of your own? Do share with all the readers in the comments section below. Do also check our other blog posts on 9 Highly Effective Habits of Great Technical Resume Writers and How To Create a ‘Machine-Readable’ Resume in 12 Steps – and Why You Should Do This.


About the author /

Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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