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Associations provide Networking and Career Connections

by Nancy J. Peterson

Just about every profession or trade has an association of practicing members, or so it seems. That could be a slight exaggeration but there are thousands of associations, each exists to advocate for a specific profession or trade. So, no matter what career path you have followed, odds are good that there is an association that would be of interest.

Associations are typically non-profit organizations that are supported by its membership and also serve its membership in many ways. Most associations, depending on size, provide continuing education, current news on what's happening in the profession, certification programs, publications and resources serving the profession, advocacy and outreach programs, and career information. While most associations are national or even international organizations, it is typical to have local or regional chapters that serve the membership more actively at that level.

During a job search, your professional or trade association is a very good resource, provided that you are searching for the next opportunity within your current profession. These are a few things that you can do through your association that may lead to that next job:

Check out the current job listings. Most associations have a Web site today and most have current job listings focused on their own niche industry. In the absence of online job listings, contact the association to find out if there is a distribution list for job openings and then get on the list.

Attend local events. These are terrific ways to get in touch, or keep in touch, with people actively working in the profession. Networking should be an important part of your job search and association events are perfect venues for making connections.

Get involved in local chapter activities. Take networking to another level and join a committee. Get to know more people at the local level. This is a great way to demonstrate leadership, teamwork and other skills in a volunteer environment. Not only can you make important connections but you are also enhancing your resume.

Update your skills and knowledge through educational programs. Maybe this is a good time to get current on certain skills or knowledge. Investigate what types of programs are offered through the association and take advantage of them.

Pursue a certification. This is great way to build upon your skills and proficiency levels even beyond taking a seminar or two. You've been working in the same field for many years and, as with any occupation, change can occur in governing regulations, processes, materials, equipment, practices and procedures. Perhaps this could be the perfect time to obtain a new credential.

These are some of the ways that your professional or trade association can assist you in your job search. So don't let your membership lapse at this critical time. Stay involved and visible to those who can help you to achieve your goal.