By Susan P. Joyce
Corporate and college alumni groups are great networks, and professional associations often offer excellent "niche" job boards.
Networking works in business every day – Chambers of Commerce across the world provide businesses the opportunity to present their products and services to other members.
Associations provide individuals, as well as businesses, similar opportunities for positive visibility. Alumni groups connect people with a common background so they can help each other.
Think of associations as possibly the best sources of niche job boards, in addition to the networking opportunities they provide.
Associations usually provide an excellent venue for expanding business and professional networks.
If they have a jobs/careers section of their Web site, and most of them do, job seekers may need to be members of the association to gain access ("Members Only"). So an association membership dues payment may be the cost of entry.
The upside is that, if the association is appropriate for the job seeker, the jobs should be well targeted for that same job seeker, if they meet the membership qualifications (assuming that industry or professional knowledge is required, not just sufficient money to join).
Joining an association only for access to the job postings is probably not a sound idea, particularly if the job seeker isn't allowed to see the job postings before they pay for access, because the quantity and/or quality may be low.
See Job-Hunt’s Tapping the Hidden Job Market article for tips on leveraging your association membership.
Below is the top level list of Job-Hunt's Directory of Professional Associations for possible associations for you.
If an association's listing has a "JOBS" link in it, that link goes directly to the job board or career section on the association's website.
Associations that do not have a "JOBS" link may have added a jobs section recently, so don't ignore those listings if the association looks like a good one for you.
Members of the military, particularly those who served in combat, share a bond that is life-long, and many organizations support those networks, across the country. As well, the former employees of many companies, engaged in a different kind of "combat," continue to stay in touch with each other through newer company "alumni" organizations.
Both the military and the civilian groups can provide job search support and networking for members, including finding job leads, vetting employers or job candidates, and sharing inside information on new potential employers. See Job-Hunt’s Directory of Company, Military, and Government Alumni Groups for links to over 250 of them.
Colleges and universities may provide career support for alumni/ae (which is usually defined as anyone who attended the school, not just graduates of the school).
Go to your school's Website, and look for "Alumni Career Center" or something similar, to find job postings, resume pointers, and other useful information for alumni/ae who are job hunting.
Or Google your college name and add "alumni association" to the search. For example, type this into Google's search bar: yale "alumni association" if you attended Yale.
Colleges and universities usually publish alumni directories, on- or off-line, that can be excellent sources of networking contacts. If job seekers have targeted a few companies or an industry, they may be able to search the directory to find "fellow alums" who are working in a target company/industry.
Frequently, very active alumni associations even have lists of alumni who are willing to be contacted by job seekers. These can be great assistance to job seekers since there is already a common bond in the school, and that's a great starting point. So, these are "warm" calls, not "cold calls."
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.