Professional Membership Associations

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 24 July 2018   |   By Isang Lekhutlile

THE WORK PLACE

Recruitment process is getting very complicated and certain elements to this process are currently regarded as “an added advantage(s)”. Depending on the recruiting company strategy, some key elements in the recruitment process are treated as preconditions to the selection criteria. One of such prerequisites is being a member in good standing of a professional body in your line of trade. Although many job seekers treat this critical requirement with disdain, most of the times if not all the time, this is a game changer to make your name make to the interview shortlist. Your association with a professional body directly or indirectly shows your commitment and interest in the profession you are pursuing. That commitment hardly goes unnoticed by your prospective employers. In my view, potential employers use this criterion as yardstick to eliminate the fly-by-night professionals from the genuine ones.

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Let me pose a simple question to you, “Are you a member of any professional body in Botswana?” If your answer is a resounding no, you need to take immediate action and be one. To be a member of a professional body is simple. Firstly, you need to be conscious of the career path you are pursuing. The next step is to do a though research of professional bodies that relate to your career. One example that comes to my mind is the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA). In Botswana, this is one of the prominent professional bodies because most youth are aspiring to pursue careers as accountants. This is not the only professional body found here in Botswana but there is a myriad of professional bodies in virtually all professions that encompass: Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), Institute of internal Auditors, Institute of Engineers, Law Society of Botswana, Botswana Nurses Council,  just to mention a few. These bodies or associations have international, regional and national chapters that are easily accessible for you to join and be part a big professional family.

So, how exactly can you become part of this synergistic group to help further your career goals and grow professionally? Me, as  a human  resource practitioner,  I am a member of two HR professional associations, one in Botswana and another in South Africa. Although these two associations serve similar interests, the levels of operation are on different stages.  In Botswana, there is a Human Resources Practitioner body called Institute of Human Resources Management. I have been a member since kick starting my career, as a human resource practitioner and l personally believe the body has been an invaluable source of career guidance and my professional development.

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One scholar defines a professional association (also called a professional body, professional organisation, or professional society) as usually a non-profit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest. In some professions for instance Botswana Nurses Council, it is compulsory to be a member of the professional body to the extent that you cannot practice or purse that career until you are given green-light; yet in others it is not. This usually depends on whether or not the profession requires the professional to have a ‘licence to practice’, or to be on a professional register, in order to do their job. Not all professional bodies have regulatory functions. In some professions, it is necessary to be registered with the regulator but not the professional body, who may provide a set of services to their professional members without regulating them.

Most professional bodies offer a way to climb up the membership ladder towards being a ‘Fellow’ or in some cases a ‘Chartered’ professional. Mind you, the associations will differ from country to country.

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For me, creating professional relationships is important, and joining a group allows you to have a sense of security and trust. From this, you are able to support and help one another in reaching your professional goals. I am one person who believes so much in networking. We all know that networking is key for the movers and shakers of the community!

Therefore, making connections is critical and joining associations gives unlimited opportunities to connect on a local and sometimes even global level. The professional associations or bodies enhance your relationship and network with career movers and shakers. At times, memberships deepen existing business relationships and allow one to make new contacts on a regular basis. Members of professional associations can often take advantage of formal coaching or mentoring relationships with more experienced business people who provide guidance and useful insights. Even on an informal basis, such relationships can be a source of answers and solutions when you are facing a challenging situation in your business.

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My advice to my fellow compatriots, particularly students and young professionals is that it is important to join a professional body and associations in your line trade and there are huge benefits to be enjoyed. Yes, they might be some fees to pay up but the advantages are worth more than the P300 or so in membership fees and in most cases, employers normally proffer to pay for these memberships.

For students most associations provide an enormous amount of access to resource information such as case studies, articles, white papers and books written by experts in your field or area of interest. You will also have access to major journal, magazine and newsletter access is provided as a part of your membership privileges. For example, Academic360.com includes a list of associations and articles that provide valuable information such as; resource guides for diversity, affirmative action and advocacy, as well as information on new and proposed regulations related to diversity. Additionally, associations provide a source for scholarship information, links to publications, and awards for persons achieving excellence in their field. No matter what your field is, staying on top of all of these issues is important. 



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