Enhance Your Resume with Affiliations & Memberships

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Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

11 min read

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Do you know how to add affiliations and memberships to your resume?

If you’re a job seeker whose resume focuses exclusively on core skills, relevant experiences, and measurable achievements, that may not always be enough to help you stand out from the crowd. That’s especially true if you work in an industry where professional affiliations may be considered career enhancers. 

To highlight those connections, it’s vital to know how to include affiliations and memberships on a resume.

In this guide, we’ll explore the important role professional affiliations and memberships can play in your career and examine different types of professional associations that can enhance your resume. We’ll also provide some key tips to help you add affiliations and memberships to your resume.

What are professional affiliations and memberships?

Depending on your occupation, you may have the opportunity to join any number of professional associations. Your membership in those organizations may help separate your resume from other job seekers since they are evidence of your deep commitment to your industry. Just as important, these types of associations can be expected in certain industries like the legal profession or education.

Related reading: How To Make Your Resume Stand Out in 2024

When should you include affiliations and memberships on a resume?

It’s a good idea to include affiliations and memberships on a resume if you believe that doing so reinforces your commitment to your role and industry. When employers see recognizable affiliations, certifications, and memberships listed in your resume, it can enhance your credibility as a skilled, experienced professional. If your professional associations relate to your industry, then there’s usually no reason not to include those details in your resume.

Some specific associations and credentials must be included on your resume if you work in specific fields. Those credentials can include things like 

  • Licensing details for anyone involved in the medical industry 

  • Membership in a certifying body that grants qualification designations – for instance, Lawyers will typically include their membership in their state’s bar association.

Different types of affiliations and memberships for a resume

Generally, there are three main types of affiliations and memberships for a resume. They include:

Member-benefit organizations

These associations exist to provide value to the organization’s members, including resources, training opportunities, and other benefits. These types of affiliations may offer networking opportunities, member advocacy, or various services and products.

Designation-granting organizations or associations

These member-only associations offer specific industry and job designations that serve to reinforce members’ skills and expertise. Typically, only active members are permitted to use those designations.

Certifying bodies

Certifying bodies exist to provide certification designations for qualified members of the organization. In most instances, the body’s main priority is on providing that designation, with few or no other services offered. To maintain membership in the body, professionals need to maintain active certification.

Other affiliations of note

There are also a variety of other affiliations that you may want to consider for inclusion in your resume – including volunteer, community, or non-profit groups. You may even want to include your membership on various boards. However, you should only include these types of affiliations if they highlight relevant skills or experiences that you need to bolster your qualifications for a given job.

How to add affiliations and memberships on a resume

It’s important to list these affiliations and memberships the right way. Below, we’ll provide some step-by-step instructions that can help you learn how to include affiliations and memberships in your resume.

Organize your affiliations and membership information

Start by creating a list of all your affiliations and memberships. You can then refine that list to include only those that have a direct relation to your current career path and job qualifications. You can exclude any information that might be a distraction from your overall fitness for the role.

Review the job description requirements

Once you have your list, review the job posting and identify any desired affiliations, certifications, or other professional credentials. You should always include those required or desired associations and credentials in your resume and then add any additional information relevant to the position.

Decide where you want to include affiliation information

Next, you’ll need to decide where to add these details to your resume. You have three main options, including a professional affiliations section, your resume summary, and your resume headline. For the purposes of these instructions, we’ll focus on the creation of a separate affiliations section.

Create a heading for the section

When you create a separate section for your affiliations, it’s common to add it right after your work experience section. Make sure you include a heading label to help employers locate these details. Don’t make it too complicated, though. In most instances, a simple heading like “Professional Affiliations” will be all you need.

Type the name and details for each relevant affiliation and membership

Beneath the heading, you can create a list of your most relevant affiliations. You should include the name of the affiliation and the organization, as well as the date you joined the group or acquired its credentials. 

If it’s a certification, list its name, the organization that granted the certificate, and the date. 

For board memberships, you should list your position, the name of the organization, and your membership dates.

Note also that you can include licensing and certification even if the process is not yet complete. Simply add the words “in progress” to the citation and include the date that you expect to receive those credentials.

Add details about skills and achievements

Beneath each affiliation, you can add bullet points to detail your role with the organization – if you have one – any skills that you’ve learned or used through that affiliation, and notable achievements. Sometimes, these additional details can help to highlight how the affiliation has furthered your professional development and increased your potential value as an employee.

Affiliations and memberships on a resume: example

American Marketing Association (AMA)

Member and active attendee in networking and marketing events (2018 to Present)

Digital Marketing Expert certification (2024)

Content Marketing certification (2023)

How to add affiliations and memberships to your summary paragraph

If you only have a single affiliation that is relevant to your desired position, you may want to consider including it in your resume summary. While that might sound more difficult, it’s quite simple. 

All you need to do is create your resume summary paragraph – three to five sentences that summarize your experience, skills, and measurable achievement – and include a mention of your affiliation. 

For example:

American Marketing Association member with 8 years of experience as a Marketing Manager and a proven track record of developing, implementing, and overseeing more than 100 successful marketing campaigns. Expert in brand development, targeted customer acquisition, and digital marketing concepts. Designed more than a dozen multi-platform campaigns for Fortune 500 firms, with a total campaign value of $60 million.

If you examine that summary, you’ll see that this candidate mentioned their association in the first sentence of the paragraph. This immediately delivers a message of professional involvement in the industry while using little resume space. Mission accomplished!

Related reading: Understanding and Creating a Resume Profile

When to include affiliations and memberships in your resume headline

There may also be times when a membership or association affiliation is required by the employer. If that’s the case, you want to include that detail within your resume headline. For example, if the job description required candidates to be members in good standing of the American Marketing Association, your job headline could be used to reflect that membership. 

For example:

Dynamic Marketing Manager and AMA Member Specializing in Brand and Campaign Development

That job headline includes your job title, required affiliation, and special skills. Any hiring manager who reads it will immediately notice that you meet that affiliation qualification, which will likely inspire them to spend more time reading your resume to check out your other qualifications.

Related reading: What Is a Good Resume Title in 2024? (+30 Examples)

Another option: Use your education section to list these credentials

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention yet another way you can include certain credentials. For example, if you have a required certification or affiliation that is unique to your industry, you may want to include it in your education section. 

This option can be used if you don’t have enough affiliations to justify a separate section or if the details are closely related to your education.

For example

  • Medical practitioners like nurses and doctors can add licensing and certification information to their education section

  • Lawyers can add information about their licensing and bar association membership

  • Teachers can also include their educational certifications and other credentials

Affiliations and professional memberships in your resume: Tips to sort it all out

Now that you’ve learned how to include affiliations and membership in your resume, it might be helpful to consider some basic tips that can simplify this process. The goal is to keep everything as simple as possible so that you don’t get overwhelmed with it all.

  • Try to limit affiliations and memberships to no more than three associations. You can keep a longer list of all your relevant credentials and bring it with you to your interview, of course, but the goal here is to include only the most impressive associations in your resume.

  • When you create that full list, include the names and contact details of any representatives of the organizations who might be able to provide you with references. That way, if the employer asks any questions about your affiliation, you can direct them to the appropriate contact.

  • Note, though, that you should always ask that person if you can use them as a reference before you provide their name to any employer. For more information, check out our article, How to Ask Someone to Be a Job Reference.

  • Keep the affiliation details in your resume as simple as possible. You should just provide the basic information we’ve outlined here, including any bullet points that add needed context. You can save a more detailed explanation for the interview if you’re fortunate enough to land one.

  • As you add this information to your resume, don’t forget your goal: to demonstrate the type of value that you can provide for the employer. Most employers only care about your associations if they help them understand the type of value that your candidacy represents to them. Don’t get distracted by how impressive you think your affiliations might be. Instead, try to put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask one simple question: does this convey the right message to this company?

  • Avoid any potentially controversial associations. Employers are not going to want to know your political associations, religious affiliations, or other personal details – unless those issues are related to the job you’re seeking.

  • Make sure you use the same formatting for all your affiliations and memberships. If you’re using different formats for each listing, that could cause confusion for your reader.

  • As a professional, it’s likely that your affiliations, memberships, and credentials may change over time. Some will expire as you add new memberships that better reflect where you are in your career journey. Get in the habit of regularly updating your resume to ensure that any outdated information is removed and replaced by more impressive new details.

  • Always do your homework before you add affiliations and memberships to your resume. Research the company, its missions, values, and expectations. While you’re at it, stay abreast of industry best practices too. What type of associations do similarly situated professionals pursue as they advance in their careers? Try to make sure that you have a good understanding of industry expectations so that you can tailor your resume to align with the employer’s needs and culture.

Including affiliations and memberships in your resume can boost your candidacy

In today’s competitive labor market, job seekers need to do everything they can to differentiate themselves from their competition. For professionals, including relevant affiliations and memberships in a resume can be a great way to highlight qualifications and demonstrate dedication to their industry and job role. This can enhance your resume and help ensure that you make the best possible impression on prospective employers.

Need help including your affiliations and memberships in a resume? Our resume experts have the knowledge and experience you need to craft a truly compelling resume. Why not get your free resume review today?

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Written by

Ken Chase, Freelance Writer

During Ken's two decades as a freelance writer, he has covered everything from banking and fintech to business management and the entertainment industry. His true passion, however, has always been focused on helping others achieve their career goals with timely job search and interview advice or the occasional resume consultation. When he's not working, Ken can usually be found adventuring with family and friends or playing fetch with his demanding German Shepherd. Read more resume advice from Ken on ZipJob’s blog.

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