Think of association membership as a form of personal marketing, establishing and gently marketing a personal “brand.” The longer a member belongs to an association and participates actively in supporting it, the stronger the brand and the wider the personal network. In a sense, also think of association membership as fire-proofing your career.
It 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.
Company, Military, and Government "Alumni" Associations
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 page of company, military, and government alumni groups for links (currently) to over 250 of them.
College Alumni Association Sites
Colleges and universities typically 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, as in: yale "alumni association".
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."
Professional/Industry Association Job Postings
Associations usually provide an excellent venue for expanding business and professional networks. If they have a jobs/careers section of their Web site, 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 and also check out Job-Hunt's many pages of associations for possible associations for you:
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© Copyright, 1998 - 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+
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