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There are essentially two primary types of affiliations on a resume - professional and civic. It is beneficial to highlight both either together or separately, depending on the number of your affiliations and your occupation. For example, if your job requires active membership in industry trade groups you should highlight that in a separate section.

Another benefit of participating in affiliations is the possibility of gaining references from other group members. Learn about writing your references section and how references should not always be written on your resume.

Taking part in associations also helps develop skills that employers actually find worthwhile. A lot can be learned from other people in-group settings that can benefit your career progression.

Professional affiliations

This includes organizations or trade groups dedicated to a profession, industry or specialty. If you are not a member of any professional organizations you should consider doing so as it signifies active participation and continued education in your area of expertise.

If you are in school, ask your teacher or student union of the different types of activities that you may partake in. They are usually free to join. Don’t forget to write them down on your resume too! See how you should write a student resume and the main sections of a student resume.

If you currently have a job your workplace may fund you be part of a professional affiliation that teaches you further skills of your trade. Or, if you are part of a trade union the union may organize privately funded events and training to help progress your career in your current workplace. We recommend you ask around to find a group that suits your interests and career plans.

We recommend those that are unemployed to join an affiliation, as it will show that you are pro-active while job searching. Ask your local job center for a list of local affiliations that help people learn skills to re-enter the workforce. Also see this guide on writing a resume if you’re unemployed.

Civic affiliations

This includes community, nonprofit and for fun groups. Write in an achievement oriented manner when describing your participation in civic groups. For example, playing basketball on the weekends is probably not something an employer is interested in knowing. But organizing your coworkers for Habitat for Humanity would be.

Think about volunteering, organizing events, fundraising and any positive contributions you have made to your community. If you did really well in a civic affiliation you may have won an award or honor so be sure to read about writing your awards on your resume. The more information you can add about your extra-curricular and outside employment activities, the better.

Alternative terms

While "credentials" or "licenses" are the most commonly used term for this section, there are a variety of alternative terms that you may want to utilize. These include (in alphabetical order):

  • Certificates
  • Activities
  • Affiliations
  • Associations
  • Charitable Commitments
  • Civic Involvement
  • Community Activities
  • Community Involvement
  • Community Service
  • Industry Affiliations
  • Memberships
  • Mentorship
  • Professional Affiliations
  • Public Service
  • Trade Organizations
  • Volunteerism

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