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How Important Are Affiliations and Certifications on a Resume?

Updated: Dec 21, 2023

An affiliation on a resume refers to professional memberships, associations, or organizations with which you’re associated. Certifications are similar and are sometimes grouped with affiliations but often stand apart. When you include affiliations and certifications on a resume, it can show that you’re dedicated to ongoing professional development and staying involved in relevant communities. It’s a good way to demonstrate your connections within your industry as well.

With that being said, when is it appropriate to include one or both on a resume and how do they compare to one another?

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Examples of Affiliations

Some of the affiliations that might be included on a resume include:

  • Professional memberships in industry-specific organizations or associations. One example would be a membership in the American Marketing Association.

  • Certifications, which we’ll talk more about below, often come from affiliated organizations or certifying bodies. If you’re including them on your resume, they should be relevant in some way to your industry or field.

  • Volunteer work because you’re affiliated with the organization where you gave your time.

  • Conferences and events can be highlighted as affiliations because, again, participating in these shows means that you want to stay on the leading edge of your industry and you’re consistently engaged.

Including Affiliations on a Resume

The way you format affiliations on a resume can depend on what they are and how specifically relevant they are to the position you’re applying for. Typically, you’d create a separate section, and you could use a heading like “Professional Memberships” if not “Affiliations.”

Then, you can list your affiliations in a bullet point format. If it adds value, you might add some additional information about the affiliation, your role in the organization, the leadership positions you held, and the duration of your membership.

Relevance is the most important thing to keep in mind when adding affiliations. You want to tailor this section of your resume based on the requirements of the position. You also want to avoid having a list that’s too long—it’s about quality over quantity.

Your affiliation section is also something you should update regularly.

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Certifications vs. Affiliations on a Resume

Sometimes, certifications can be included under your affiliations area on your resume, but in other cases, they should be listed separately.


Certifications can showcase a specific skill set or competency you acquired in a particular area. They are a way to show you’ve completed training or passed an exam related to that skill set. The reason the two can overlap is that you might be part of a professional organization only because you passed an exam or received a certification for that membership.

Examples of certifications include Project Management Professional (PMP), AWS Certified Solutions Architect, or a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Whether you put a certification independently in its own section or as part of your affiliations, you want to include the name of the certification, the certifying body, and the date of attainment.

With certifications, you should use them when you want to highlight specific technical or professional skills that directly relate to the job you’re applying for. They’re especially valuable in fields where there are standard certifications employers recognize. Affiliations are more often used when you want to highlight your involvement in your industry, demonstrating your commitment to ongoing learning and networking.

A well-written resume will always prioritize the certifications and affiliations most relevant to the position you’re applying for. Finding resume help near you is what many people choose to do to get help with their resume. A career coach, who has many years of experience working with very accomplished job seekers, will know exqactly how to list your affiliations and certficiations to help you stand out.

Whether you try to write your own resume or hire the professionals, you want a balance between affiliations and certifications in your resume, and you should clearly label sections to make it easy for employers to understand your qualifications.

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Do Hiring Managers Care About Affiliations?

The importance a hiring manager places on affiliations can depend on the industry, the nature of the affiliations, and the specific job. They can be a way to provide additional context about your professional background. A hiring manager is much more likely to place importance on an affiliation that directly relates to the job you’re applying for.

In certain industries, some affiliations might be considered standard or highly respected.  

Ultimately, affiliations can add value to your resume, but a great resume is going to be written with discretion, prioritizing what aligns with the job you’re applying for. If you include too many affiliations or they’re not relevant, you can clutter your resume, distracting from your more important qualifications.

Do Hiring Managers Care About Certifications?

Certifications can be incredibly valuable on a resume, especially in fields where particular skills, knowledge, and competencies are critical. A certification can be a tangible piece of evidence that a candidate has expertise and meets established standards.

Certifications can do the following:

  • Validate skills by a third party. This demonstrates you’ve acquired a specific set of competencies through skills, experience, or education.

  • In some industries, certifications are industry standards.

  • They give a competitive advantage and differentiate candidates from one another.

  • Hiring managers tend to view certifications as a way to mitigate risk when hiring. They’re a standardized measure of qualifications, allowing employers to make more informed decisions.

There are circumstances where certifications can actually make up for a lack of experience or education, while this isn’t something that would typically be true of affiliations.

Certifications show that you have theoretical skills and knowledge, and they provide context for your skills.

Examples of situations where you should consider including certifications on your resume include:

  • They’re required or preferred.

  • You want to highlight specific skills that are needed for a position.

  • You’re early in your career with limited work experience.

  • You are transitioning to a new industry or career.

  • As a way to stand out in competitive fields.

  • For technical or specialized roles.

  • When you want to seek industry recognition.

Final Thoughts

Both affiliations and certifications can have a key role in your resume, but in some cases, they might not. It’s tough to find that balance and create a tailored resume, which is why many people work with resume writing experts in Denver.

They know what to highlight when given a certain situation or position. They can go through your entire history and pull out those key details that will be most relevant and appealing to hiring managers and then format them appropriately. Resume writers can strike that balance between giving a full picture of who you are professionally without cluttering your resume or including unnecessary information.

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