By Charlotte Weeks
Yes, sometimes it comes down to what’s in a job ad or what a recruiter is sourcing for. However, if you’re proactively looking while employed, you may have the luxury of targeting associations that interest you the most.
Let’s assume for just a moment that you are an experienced executive director, and you get to strategically plan your job search–you’ll contact recruiters in your areas of interest, network with people in your target area, and apply to associations with missions that really speak to you–but what IS that mission?
There are a few ways to go about finding out: Look to your past work experience. What jobs did you enjoy the most? What tasks did you prefer spending your time on? What companies did you most like working for? Go back even further. What did you major in? As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Think about which causes are closest to your heart. What organizations do you donate money to or volunteer with? How do you spend your free time (sports, arts, travel, etc.)?
While these questions may not give you an immediate answer, you should gain clarity on what areas you’re most passionate about. For example, if the arts are a strong theme, start exploring associations that focus on arts in the schools, professional theatre, or art museums.
Depending on your area of interest, there could be a variety of options out there. According to the ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, there were an estimated 86,054 trade and professional associations in 2004.
While you may have to repackage your career marketing materials for your area of interest (if you’re breaking into a new industry), rest assured there are plenty of exciting possibilities within association management.