They're generally the items you throw on at the end of your resume. Sometimes they're little more than an afterthought. But, especially when it comes to exploring opportunities for health care careers, affiliations with professional organizations or associations can prove invaluable in pushing a job application over the top in the eyes of prospective employers.
An interest in personal and professional growth
"Identifying your affiliation with a professional organization on your resume demonstrates to an employer that you are involved in your industry and reveals that you are genuinely interested in personal and professional growth," said Valerie Kindall, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde's campus in Kansas City, Mo. "Professional organizations are an excellent resource to utilize when you are job searching as they are typically filled with like-minded individuals in various levels of their careers."
Kindall added that putting yourself in general proximity with your peers who work in health care careers will likely lead to various networking opportunities, such as events, conferences, and meetings, where you can share insight into your industry as well as hiring trends, company news and other valuable information.
It also allows you to build your own personal brand, Kindall said.
"I personally have developed several professional relationships in both online groups and local groups and have been connected with positions and employment opportunities that I otherwise might not have known about," she said. "The old adage, 'it's who you know,' still proves to be true, and getting out there and involved with professional organizations can be very beneficial to both your personal and professional growth."
Showing you're serious about health care careers
Affiliations with professional organizations also can show a commitment to your profession that might not otherwise be evident during a job interview.
"Often, professional organizations offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that are typically required to maintain licensure or certification in various fields," said Stacie Williams, MS, LPC-S, LMFT, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde - San Antonio. "There is also the benefit of networking opportunities. Employers like to be represented in the field. Lastly, you can usually get legal counsel from a professional organization, which may be helpful."
Passing along more knowledge related to health care careers
With some professional organizations, you can gain hands-on experience such as volunteering, according to Danielle Van der Knaap, BA, Graduate Employment Specialist at Concorde - San Antonio.
"But I believe you take away from being more empowered with knowledge," Van der Knaap said. "They keep the member up to date on new technologies, research, etc. When attending meetings or receiving emails, new advances are always being discussed, or different ways to do things."
Zane Wilson, MBA, CPC, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde's campus in Portland, Ore., said, "Most professional organizations distribute regular publications regarding changes to legislation, practices or professional items of interest. Having a professional membership on your resume shows a potential employer that you are interested in staying up-to-date with changes in the industry."
It also shows a prospective employer that you're capable of more than just what the job itself calls for.
"When an employer reviews your resume in viewing your professional involvement, it shows that you're capable of multitasking work, life, and extra activities," Van der Knaap said.
Professional affiliations as keywords
Finally, having yourself affiliated with a professional organization can serve you well when it comes to database searches, which is a method many companies use today to sift through applications.
"Having professional affiliations can be used as keywords," said Liane Pardo-Mansfield, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde Career Institute - Orlando, Fla. "It also gives more credence to your background and character as most organizations have a code of ethics by which you have to abide to remain in good standing."
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