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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, you might want to leave it off your resume.
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 be left 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There is also no point in mentioning an organization that you are no longer a part of or are no longer active in, unless there has been an office held by you. If you’re asked about your active affiliation in an interview, and you’re not, it could be rather awkward.
Being Careful with the Affiliations
A word of warning: I personally do not advise mentioning 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, or resume sifter, the reason to put you at the bottom of the list. Unfair as that may be.
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. For example:
- 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. As the program chair, you were able to engage with renowned speakers, resulting in increased attendance at meetings and seminars.
- You might have arranged for school kids to take part in something educational.
- You might have helped involve a diverse group to be part of the membership and take on leadership roles, making the association more demonstrably inclusive.
- You might have coordinated a conference that was successful and positively received by the community.
Ask yourself what your accomplishments have been whilst involved with those professional bodies, and try to highlight those in your resume. Focus on how the particular organization was able to benefit from your efforts. 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.
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.