Association of Association Members?
May 29, 2006 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Does membership in Professional (non-legislated) Associations make my resume look better? Or am I just paying money to add useless acronyms to it?

As opposed to legislated professional associations (doctors, lawyers, etc) I have the option of joining a number of professional organizations that are relevant to my line of (desired) work.

IAPP Membership
Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies

Some of these clearly provide useful networking opportunities, but the prices range from $30 to $350, depending on the association.

Should I join some of the associations that are only slightly connected with my research/work interests, or should I try to stick to the one or two that are closest to what I want to do?

Note, I'm just talking about membership, not certification in anything. Many of these groups do offer certification for professionals with a few years experience, but I'm not there yet. Stay tuned for a question about whether to get certifications in a few years time.
posted by tiamat to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: IAPP is "International Association of Privacy Professionals", for those who don't want to follow the link.
posted by tiamat at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2006

Well besides the networking opportunities, what else will you get out of these associations? If you think the knowledge or exposure you can get out of them will outweigh what you put out in cash, then I say go for it. Plus you will have a good story to tell about why you are a member of so and so when an employer asks you.
posted by mmascolino at 1:00 PM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster: "Plus you will have a good story to tell about why you are a member of so and so when an employer asks you."

Do you think that is enough of reason when the other aspects of the association are not worth the value of the membership fees? I.E. When the publications or networking is not likely to have value in and of itself.
posted by tiamat at 1:07 PM on May 29, 2006

Best answer: Each field is going to be different...but no, if it isn't worth it intellectually or networking wise, I wouldn't join. The only exception would be if there were only a few groups in your field or its something people in your profession were expected to do. I personally would ask around in your profession to see how they value the organizations in question and go from there.
posted by mmascolino at 1:11 PM on May 29, 2006

Best answer: When I review resumes I look at the professional association listed - and I will ask questions about these associations during the interview.

Joining an association may indicate a desire to meet other people, a desire to learn about new research in one's field, a desire to spend time outside of one's work to further one's contacts. If a candidate is an active member of an association (eg sits on one of the committees, or is involved on one of the boards) then so much the better. this shows community involvement, as well as a generous spirit.

My advice to you tiamat - join these associations only if you are prepared to attend the meetings, and to join committees after a few years. If you are only joining to 'pad' your resume, that's money lost, and could also mean an uncomfortable pause during interviews when asked questions about recent meetings or an upcoming conference.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2006

It is a bad idea to join an association purely for stoking up a resume.

When interviewing, membership in an organization isn't of any interest to a hiring manager unless 1) it is directly related to the job at hand and 2) you're more than just someone on the association's mailing list, i.e. you take an active role in the organization's affairs.
posted by storybored at 2:07 PM on May 29, 2006

It probably depends enormously on the specific field. When I used to interview software engineers, I generally ignored those kinds of things on resumes entirely. (And I tended to find that good engineers usually were too busy to waste time on things like the ACM or the IEEE.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:59 PM on May 29, 2006

Second seawallrunner - if I see an association membership, and you can tell me what you get out of it, you get a tick under the networking and/or learning/development criteria.

Having said that, it's not that hard to pad out your resume with memberships, then to browse through the most recent newletters / magazines / website updates just before an interview to get enough info to give the impression that you get a lot out of them.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:21 PM on May 29, 2006

I was an ACM member for a while, and joined a bunch of their more focused groups as well (human-computer interaction, computer learning, etc.). I did not participate actively in the ACM but tangible benefits I did receive included subscriptions to a number of academic journals sent to members of these various groups. I also had access to the online archives of a number of journals, which was definitely a worthwhile benefit. The journals varied in quality and rigor, but they were generally at least pretty interesting. I never kept up with reading them, however, and I let my subscription lapse after a while. If I had been doing more research-oriented work I most likely would have retained my membership (and I still might re-activate myself at some point).
posted by Songdog at 5:50 AM on May 30, 2006

One professional organization that I belong to (the Society for Technical Communication) I get almost nothing out of at this point; I remain a member out of habit and wishful thinking that they might improve.

Two - the Project Management Institute and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals - I have really benefitted from being associated with. Learned a lot, made good contacts, continue to learn from them.
posted by enrevanche at 6:33 AM on May 30, 2006

I'm an ASCE member and I've been told it made the difference in my current position. For engineering licensure, many states now require continuing education credits. ASCE offers many classes to fulfill those requirements. Classes, workshops, and conferences also offer good opportunities to stay abreast of current trends and developments in the civil engineering industry. For an engineer, to not belong to a professional organization is a handicap.
posted by JJ86 at 10:19 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone, in case anyone was curious, I am now or about to be a member of the following:

IAPP: International Association of Privacy Professionals
CAPS: Canadian Association of Political Scientists
CASIS: Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies
ORC: Online Rights Canada [EFF's Canadian version]
posted by tiamat at 5:19 PM on June 3, 2006

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