Dispelling the Myths of Working in the Association Industry

Imagine what you could do if you had access to a “secret sector” of jobs suited for graduates, career changers, and executives. The idea may seem far-fetched or too good to be true, but the association industry is one such area that is commonly misunderstood or unknown by job seekers. In a recent “Meet the Experts” interview with Jason Alba, CEO and Creator of JibberJobber.com, I shared some insight into the association industry and together we explored some of the common myths about the industry. I want to highlight some of my responses for you.

Myth #1: Associations pay far less than corporations.
While the average pay is nearly the same, many associations surpass the market in benefits by offering tuition reimbursement, flex time, and continuing education in addition to the health insurance and vacation time offered by corporations. The benefits of working for an association typically rival or even exceed those in the corporate world.

Myth #2: Associations have little to offer in terms of adding meaning to my work.
For those who desire to combine their life’s mission with a successful, well-paying career, the association industry presents that opportunity. The American Lung Association has piloted successful non-smoking campaigns, and the American School Counselor Association leads efforts in helping children during a crisis. Most associations seek to use their profession to work for the greater good.

Myth #3: An association requires experience directly related to the profession it serves.
Sheri Jacobs, who wrote the forward to my book, I Want to Work in an Association—Now What?, said that 100% of the people she polled “fell into” the association industry, which is why it is such a great option for career changers! When I speak with hiring managers, they tell me they are most interested in:

  • Job-specific qualifications—The applicant should meet the requirements of an accountant if that is the position being targeted.
  • Customer service skills—The number one goal of an association is to keep its members happy; customer service is key.
  • Volunteer experience—It shows that someone is altruistic and interested in helping others.

If you have not yet considered the association industry in your job search, I encourage you to listen to the full interview and take advantage of this often overlooked source of well-paying and mission-driven career opportunities!

About Charlotte Weeks - Executive Career Coach / Executive Resume Writer / Outplacement Consultant

Prior to founding Weeks Career Services, Inc. Charlotte Weeks worked in human resources at a national association, where she experienced the hiring process from the other side. She's also the past president of The National Resume Writers' Association (The NRWA). Charlotte specializes in providing C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.), association executives, executive directors and senior-level professionals (director, VP, SVP, etc.) with comprehensive career coaching services and high-ROI resumes. She is author of "I Want a Job in an Association -- Now What?? A Guide to Getting a Job in a Professional Association, Membership Organization, or Society" and featured author of "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career." Additional book contributions include "The Twitter Job Search Guide," "Resumes That Pop!," and "Step-by-Step Cover Letters." As an internationally-recognized expert, Charlotte provides programs and documents tailored to each individual’s needs. To ensure that each person is given the highest quality of attention and service, Charlotte works with a limited number of new clients each month.
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