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Professional Associations: Why you should join one and how to get the most out of it

Dear Coach Joan,

I have been working as a technical recruiter for high tech companies for the last two years. I had been doing well, and actually enjoyed the work very much, but unfortunately the small  recruiting consultancy I’ve been working for has closed.  I need to find new employment and was recommended to find a professional organization where I can network, and hopefully find a new job. In researching online, I found a fairly local high tech recruiting professional association. There is a cost for joining, and I’m wondering how to make the  most out of investing in a membership. Thank you in advance for your suggestions.



Dear Terry,

I’m glad you found a field that you enjoy; one that has good compensation potential. It sounds like you were working for a contract recruiting firm, and you now may want to consider looking into opportunities to work in-house as a recruiter at a high tech company. The advantage of being an in-house recruiter is that you will be on a steady salary, instead of having a variable income on a pay-for-placement basis.

And I applaud you in looking to join a professional association where you will have opportunities to meet face to face with people in your industry. Yes, there are many online employment listing opportunities, but there is nothing like the face to face meeting where you can connect, make a good impression, and  perhaps unearth a new position, perhaps a job not yet listed. Companies are often looking for talented people and often to find them in places like professional associations which attract motivated, hardworking people who are looking to advance.

That said, how do you make the most of a professional association membership?

It starts with phone calls. I always suggest to clients that we look at the leadership of the organization. Typically, the people who play leadership roles in these groups are volunteers. They are looking to network and further their profession and careers.  They often enjoy helping others in their field! I  would first study the organization’s  web site and if they have any interesting meetings coming up. Then, I would call (or email if phone number is not listed) a couple of the leaders and introduce yourself with my background and my desire to join the group. Offer to send my  resume and Linkedin information. The most important part is to ask them how you can best volunteer and offer your services at the next event! Professional associations are always looking for volunteers. And the groups often offer you a complimentary visit to a first meeting or presentation to see if you feel the group is a good fit. If possible, put off paying the membership until after the first meeting to see if it really is a good fit for you.

When you connect with leaders of the group, ask if they will be going to the event you found. See if you can look to meet up with them there or even at a coffee or lunch before the meeting.  It feels much better to go to a first meeting when you already know one or two people. You won’t feel like an outsider, especially if they ask you to volunteer for things like helping with registration or handing out speakers’ materials, or another kind of easy and visible task. These tasks, coupled with a name tag that says your name and that you are a volunteer, make you a useful part of the group and a person who has earned the right to introduce yourself around.

The other kind of preparation that I suggest you consider is reading up in your industry. Look for blogs and the thought leaders in your field of technical recruiting. See what issues and popular topics are trending. Come with things to talk about. Come prepared with questions and points of view

I always tell my clients that ‘Readiness + Opportunity = Success’

In the case of going to professional association meetings that means: dressing professionally, communicating with enthusiasm, preparing questions and opinions and being ready to share your employment situation, capabilities,  and your readiness for new opportunities.

Yes, Terry, professional associations can be a great way to meet people and find new opportunities in your field. They also can be an excellent place for career  training and development as well as new employment.

Onward to your career  success. Let’s bring the best of you to work!


Coach Joan

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