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The Professional Touch: Effective Networking Using Professional/Academic Affiliations

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , , , , , ,
POSTED: April 1, 2008 at 7:56 am

by Darlene Zambruski, CPRW, SME

Because resumes are sent electronically or by regular mail, it’s not often that you can use your networking savvy until – or unless – you’re called in for an interview. However, by listing memberships in professional and academic societies, your resume is a silent partner in networking your skills to hiring managers who are also members of these groups. Additionally, affiliations quickly and effortlessly indicate your professional industry or academic status.

When to Emphasize Professional Affiliations

Mention membership in Professional Affiliations within the Qualifications Summary when:

1. You’ve held a leadership position within the organization (eg: President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer)

2. The organization is recognized as the leader in your specific industry (eg: AMA – American Medical Association – for a physician; SPHR for human resource professionals; The Writers Guild for authors)

3. Membership is required in your career field.

A Word About Maximizing Your Professional Affiliation Data

If you are in possession of the hiring manager’s name and background (through research on company websites), it’s a good idea to research professional membership files (eg: college alumni associations) to see if that person is affiliated with the organization to which you belong. If so, make mention of your membership in your cover letter. Networking in this manner may give you an edge in being granted an interview.

When to Emphasize Academic Affiliations

1. If you are a recent college graduate

2. If you have little to no professional experience

In the above scenarios, showcasing academic affiliations, especially honor societies, will impress upon a hiring manager your dedication to the chosen field and your potential as an employee.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My only memberships are with the PTA and similar organizations since I’ve spent the last few years raising my children. Should I include this information on my resume?

If you held leadership positions within these organizations that would indicate to a hiring manager your potential for a management role. Even if you did not hold such a position, if you served on committees, that would indicate your teamwork capabilities and commitment to your community. This information should be included.

2. I’ve been out of college for nearly 20 years. Do I still include alumni membership information on my resume?

It never hurts to include this information as the HR professional viewing your resume may very well be an alumnus of the same school. That data, alone, may very well capture the hiring manager’s interest so that added attention is granted the information on your resume.

3. What is preferred by hiring managers – national associations or local chapters?

It would depend upon your role in each. If you are simply a member of a national association, but are president of a local chapter, the leadership position should be emphasized.

4. One of the professional associations to which I belong is fairly new and not widely recognized, should I include it on my resume?

If it enhances your candidacy, and if you provide the hiring manager with additional data regarding its importance. For example:

Member, Culinary Specialists Guild, founded in 2002 to promote the culinary profession and to provide beginning chefs with worthwhile information to master the craft.


  • Rebecca_Reitz

    I appreciate your advice. Sometimes it is difficult to know which professional affiliations to list, and those that do not need to be included. Your article helped to clarify this issue.