Benefits of Joining a Professional Body
Most specialisations and industries have a professional body, normally an association or institute, which people with the appropriate background, experience or qualifications can join. What can you gain by joining such a body? Is it worth the money? Will it help you’re your job search? Here are some of the potential benefits that membership can offer.
Most institutions have an assessment process that applicants must pass before they are granted membership. This means that, once you have demonstrated that you have the requisite experience, qualifications and skills, you may join the institution and add the appropriate letters to your CV and business card. Membership shows that you have reached a certain level of expertise in your profession, and adds to your credibility. It also shows that you are serious about your career and professional development. But remember just being a card carrying member of an organization doesn’t mean that this will automatically produce results for you – and you need to analyse the different types of professional bodies or institutes and chose carefully – simply collecting post nominal accreditation when taken to extremes can work counter-productively too!!
Information and Advice
Many institutions have web sites offering members password protected access to industry news, surveys, reports, updates, career information, jobs, and details of events. Some, like the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), offer a comprehensive on-line research facility, with downloadable documents and publications, and a facility for answering questions you may have.
Institutions may have regional networking and professional development events that you can attend, which can be useful for making new contacts and learning more about what’s happening in the sector. National expos and conferences also offer excellent networking and research opportunities. If you wish to raise your profile you can volunteer to join committees and help organise events.
There are some excellent monthly or quarterly magazines produced by institutions, which are normally included in the cost of your annual subscription. As well as industry news and articles, the magazines often have a vacancies section – ideal for finding jobs relating to your particular industry sector.
Continuous professional development (CPD) is essential if you want to forge a successful second career after leaving the military. Professional Institutions may offer career development programmes, training courses and assessments. There may also be the opportunity to upgrade your membership to Chartered or Fellow level, via further assessment, which gives added professional credibility.
Professional bodies will charge for assessment and accreditation, and there will be an annual subscription fee, which could be up to £150. However you may be able to claim professional membership costs against tax in certain circumstances, and the military has links with some organisations which may reduce the time and cost of applying for initial membership – speak to your education officer about this
As with other aspects of your resettlement programme, research is key to ensuring that you gain value from joining a professional body – find out what they offer that would benefit you, and what they charge. Their main web site will have open access so you can conduct initial research there.