Professional Association Memberships while Unemployed

For decades, professional associations have enhanced the careers of not only individual members but the overall professions they serve as well. Services they provide include opportunities for professional development as well as up to date information on field trends. The networking opportunities of an association fill countless jobs and many members also discover additional employment opportunities on association job boards.

 Unfortunately, since the start of the current recession, many of the unemployed individuals I see are not utilizing the services of their professional associations. Some had never been members before and can’t afford to start paying dues. Similarly, members often rate dues as a ‘nonessential’ expense and discontinue association while unemployed.

When I encourage unemployed individuals to attend networking events, I point out that most groups sponsoring such events are supportive of the plight of unemployed individuals. For example, the local Chamber of Commerce in my area will not charge an unemployed person admission to an event. I have had many job seekers attend paid events by volunteering to help. Many of these events were sponsored by professional association.

I mentioned these factors at a recent employment seminar I was conducting, and one attendee provided valuable information on this topic. She’s a career association member and serves on a regional joint association membership group. All the associations in this group have adopted supportive positions on dealing with former or potential members currently unemployed. These involve waving or delaying membership dues and any fees associated with events. The long range theory is that someone receiving extra assistance from their professional association in a time of need such as unemployment will likely show their gratitude by committing to long term membership.

So, before you cross off an association as a resource for your job search due to cost concerns, talk to a board member about your situation.


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