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How to Add Your Best Professional Affiliations to Your 2024 Resume

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The must-have professional affiliations and memberships for your resume to leave a positive and memorable mark on your application.
Jun 13, 2024 9 min read

In a sea of professional affiliations - from niche organizational memberships and licenses to community involvement and volunteering experience - most job applicants have one big burning question.

Which affiliations should make it on their job-winning resume?

When selecting your professional affiliations, remember that they're the go-to section if you want to leave an excellent first impression on recruiters.

Think about the memberships that would help you stand out when applying for a role where candidates have very similar experience or technical know-how.

If you're interested in finding out how to use memberships to pinpoint your unique skill set and the bigger, outside-the-job, impact you've had on the industry, read on!

This Enhancv guide will focus on:

  • The difference between professional and civic affiliations.
  • Dos and don'ts of adding professional memberships to your resume.
  • How should you narrow down your professional affiliations and select the best ones for the job?
  • Which are the hidden resume sections, you could include your professional affiliations under?
  • Marketing, healthcare, and plenty more industry-specific resume affiliations examples you can use.

What are professional affiliations?

Professional affiliations denote all the organizations, groups, clubs, etc. you participate in. It doesn't matter if you're a part of a big, international chapter or a small, local community, both could be worth mentioning.

Classify your memberships based on whether they're:

  • Professional affiliations - you've met standards to participate in organizations, directly related to your aspirations. For example, if you're an aerospace engineer, talk about your active role in the  American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics or AIAA.
  • Civic affiliations - outside-of-work interests, linked to the job requirements. For example, you could volunteer at a telephone hotline, which shows you can stay calm under pressure.

Affiliations show who you are outside of work - the networks you've built, how you've grown, and if you're committed to the industry.

What makes a good professional affiliation?

Now that we've covered the basics of professional affiliations, you may wonder which ones should make it on your resume.

Here's one rule of thumb: if the organization you're a part of is irrelevant to the role, leave it out.

Take for example a candidate applying for a paramedic role, who is also a Fellow in the Royal Society of Arts. Even though his fellowship sounds prestigious, how would it contribute to his role application?

Selecting your affiliations is a matter of balancing the required skill set and your expertise. That's why the best memberships for your resume are the ones that:

Select professional affiliations that are essential to the role

Use these accreditations to validate your skill set and know-how, while demonstrating your industry engagement.

Professional affiliations that meet these requirements:

  • are in field-related organizations.
  • provide you with the necessary training.
  • award industry-leading certificates.
  • help you network with other professionals via conferences, webinars, publications, etc.

Chose professional organizations that show transferrable skills

Transferrable skills are all the abilities you've gained thanks to your whole work and life experience, which are relevant to the role.

Your professional or civic affiliations could hint at transferable skills like  dedication to continuous growth; drive and initiative; leadership or management skills.

Choose organizations, where you're either leading the chapter or are actively involved in meetings, committees, fundraising, etc.

Don't list any organizations within which you're just a member as this would waste the limited space on your resume.

Use your professional memberships to fill in the gaps in your resume

What if you're a student, who's just graduated from college with no work experience?

Use your professional affiliations to prove your practical expertise, on top of your academic knowledge.

Your organizations should expand on your skills and what you got out of the experience, like if you've:

  • grown network of industry professionals to attend conferences.
  • liaised with third parties to ensure your organization got high-quality work.
  • dealt with hidden bureaucracy in organizations, e.g. student unions.
  • managed successful projects and reached initial goals.

How to write a good professional affiliations resume section

You've so far selected the best professional affiliations that match the job requirements and feature you as an interview-worthy candidate.

Let's get down to describing associations on your resume.

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What sort of professional affiliations can you include?

On your resume, use any professional or civic affiliations that match the job requirements, like:

  • Memberships
  • Licenses
  • Certificates
  • Community or volunteering roles
  • Board meeting active participation

Where should you include your professional affiliations on your resume?

Instead of creating an endless list of all the relevant organizations you're a part of, sprinkle them strategically across different resume sections.

The more important or relevant the association is, the closer to the top it should be.

So, you can place your professional affiliations in your resume:

Summary or Objective 

the three to five sentences underneath your header that prove your key skills and experiences.

Feature up to two associations you're a part of, only if they're job-crucial or highly valued in your industry, and explain how they've helped grow your skill set or describe your achievements.

Here’s a candidate example of a pretty vague resume summary:

Summary
Chemical engineer with +6 years of experience. Worked on developing and optimizing chemical processes and simulations. Part of SCI and AIChE.
WRONG

This chemical engineer just lists their responsibilities, without any context. They’ve added abbreviations of their professional affiliations that are difficult to understand.

Now, let’s look at how this professional summary could be reworked, to provide more context as to the candidate strengths:

Summary
Chemical engineer with +6 years of experience developing and optimizing chemical processes. Integrated Aspen HYSYS and ChemCAD to improve process simulation and scale-up methodologies by 45%.  Adept at integrating cutting-edge technologies to enhance process efficiency and improve process safety by an AVG of +50 fewer incidents/ year. An active member of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), leading and managing bi-monthly meetings with +12K professionals across the country. Involved with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), having published over 30 papers, including collaborations with other industry professionals.
RIGHT

The candidate has:

  • added context to list key technologies to prove their achievements;
  • used numbers and percentages to further make their successes more tangible;
  • selected industry-leading societies, where they've contributed as a leader;
  • shown how they've collaborated with experts as part of their professional affiliations.

Now, let’s move on to the next part of your resume, where you could add your professional affiliations.

Headline

Add the certificate name, you've obtained a part of the organization, after your name in the header. Do this, only if it's essential for the role (e.g. if you're a Registered Nurse or a Chartered Financial Analyst, etc.), like the candidate below:

Next, we explore the most lengthy part of your resume, within which you could talk about your memberships.

Experience section

If you don't have real-world experience, list your memberships as individual experience items.

Include up to six bullet points per experience item that start with a strong action verb, followed up with a unique skill set, and your actual outcomes.

Discover an example how you shouldn’t write your professional affiliations in the experience section, below:

Experience
Affiliate
SHRM
Albuquerque, NM
  • Promoted SHRM memberships
  • Promoted HR practices
  • Organized events
  • Volunteered at events
WRONG

Within the experience section, the candidate noted that he is an affiliate and used the organization’s abbreviation. Raise your hand if you immediately know what “SHRM” stands for.

What is more, he has included a generic list of his responsibilities with no context.

Now, let’s move on to how the candidate should list his societies and achievements in the resume experience section.

Experience
Society for Human Resource Management Affiliate
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Albuquerque, NM
  • Reached out to +15K potential affiliates and converted 65% of them to sign up for the SHRM
  • Championed better retention practices at 20 international congresses
  • Organized 35 local chapter events that had +100K participants from across the region
  • Volunteered at event’s meet and greet, guest sign up, and liaise with all third-party vendors (caterers, technical managers) to ensure events were a success
RIGHT

Notice the difference - the candidate has:

  • presented quantifiable achievements for the tasks he was responsible for.
  • included relevant experience items, which also list the organization's full name.
  • showcased his technical proficiency with job-specific skills (e.g. in sales and via communication);
  • shown the impact of his actions in the long term.

We’ll follow up with how to list your university or college professional organizations, as part of the education section of your resume.

Education or certificates

Mention your memberships or certificates, as part of your academic or industry-specific organizations. But, don't go over the top with your academic affiliations, instead, use your educational background to note the name of the institution and the recognition you received.

Education
MD Pediatrics
University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, PA
  • As president of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), interviewed prospective members, organized +100 events, and oversaw the work of +150 local affiliates
RIGHT

Finally, we’ll explore how you can create a specific section to spotlight your key and plenty) organizations.

Custom section

Create a custom "Professional Affiliations" or "Industry Memberships" section, if you happen to have many relevant affiliations. List up to three memberships you have in reverse chronological order, starting with the latest role or initiative. Use bullets and metrics to quantify your impact.

AFFILIATIONS
Rotary Club Member
Held a fundraising and raised $400K to buy +25K new books for local schools and the community
RIGHT

Other resume sections under which you can feature your professional (or civic) affiliations include:

How do you include your professional affiliations on your resume?

Once you've selected under which sections you'd detail your professional affiliations, keep your writing or formatting clear and consistent.

When listing your organizations, include:

  • the official name(s) of the affiliation, followed by its acronym (in parentheses);
  • start and end dates (or your "current" status) of your affiliation ;
  • up to three bullet points with detailed (and specific) outcomes of your affiliation.

Don't make your descriptions too detailed, as professional associations should supplement your experience.

Experience
UX/UI Designer
GrowYourShop.eu
Orlando, FL
Company Description
  • Received the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) recognition
  • Organized 250 local workshops to share with +100K accounting professionals the newest and best industry practices
  • Mentored 15 high school students to pursue a career in accounting - currently 10 of them are members of the NAA Bethesda chapter
RIGHT
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Three final tips on writing about your professional affiliations

  1. Remove outdated, inactive, or irrelevant memberships, unless they're highly sought out for the role.
  2. Use professional affiliations to demonstrate your hard skills (or technologies you're apt at using), but also your soft skill set (e.g. your work ethic, communication style, etc.).
  3. Always highlight relevant organizations within which you've had a leadership role closer to the top.

Good professional affiliations examples

In the next part of this guide, we'll look at industry-specific professional affiliations and some of the most popular civic organizations you can list on your resume.

Professional Affiliations: real-life examples

IT professional affiliations

Most of these professional associations would have certified your skills. That's why it's a good idea to include all your organizational certificates under the relevant resume section.

Engineering professional affiliations

Whether you've been a part of the organization since your university days or have used it to network with other industry professionals, feature any engineering memberships and the skills you learned.

If you’ve just graduated from university, and don’t have enough relevant experience, add the associations as part of your experience section.

Creative professional affiliations

Whether part of a communications or design society, you surely have had the opportunity to stay up to date with the latest trends in marketing, graphic design, etc.

Apart from integrating the affiliations in your resume summary or achievements, make sure to add all of your relevant and recent organizational work to your portfolio.

Financial professional affiliations

Participating in financial affiliations provides you with job-crucial certificates in finance and helps you build a network of trustworthy professionals.

Most financial certifications are an excellent addition to the top one-third of your resume (header and summary), as they’d help you match the job keyword requirements.

Healthcare professional affiliations

The specific licenses healthcare organizations provide you with may be vital to landing the role – that's why it's a good idea to include them closer to the top of your resume (e.g. even in the header, after your name).

You can also add your volunteer work at specific associations under your experience section to show you have all the necessary hours of practice in the industry.

Law professional affiliations

To practice law, you know you need a degree and admission to the bar in the state you intend to work in. Even though law associations are most often state-specific, they provide you with opportunities to practice, and that’s why it’s a good idea to add them to your resume, as relevant experience.

Educational professional affiliations

Teaching requirements vary from state to state, but some form of membership in a professional association would be a must. You could add all the teaching organizations you’re a part of within your experience section or as part of your resume summary.

Civic Affiliations: real-life examples

While your civic affiliations sure shouldn't be the main focus of your resume, they are nice to have, as they show your character and dedication to the community and/or social causes. Create a separate "Volunteering" or “Interests” section – or add them to your resume summary.

Key takeaways

  • Professional affiliations provide you with an opportunity to feature your outside-of-work industry-specific expertise and volunteering experience. When selecting your memberships, make sure they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  • Use your professional affiliations to hint at the know-how, skills, certificates, and accomplishments you’ve attained through your career.
  • Feature the more relevant associations closer to the top of your resume (in the header or summary). The same goes for all associations you’ve had a leadership role in.
  • If you don’t have enough relevant experience, add all the professional affiliations in your experience section to show you have the relevant skill set for the role.
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Volen Vulkov
Volen Vulkov is a resume expert and the co-founder of Enhancv. He has written more than 500 resume guides and deep-dive articles on how to create your resume and cover letter, that inspire job applicants to make a resume to be proud of. His work has been featured in Forbes, Zendesk, HubSpot, and Business Insider, and cited by top universities and educational institutions, like Thunderbird School of Management, Rochester University, University of Miami, and Udemy. Volen applies his deep knowledge and practical experience to write about career changes, development, and how to stand out in the job application process.
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