I was reviewing resumes today and thinking about qualifications and memberships. Not undergraduate and graduate degrees, but the memberships such as the PMI, Chartered Institute, Society of... type memberships. People very often display these on their resume - often at the top, because they think they are very important. Unfortunately, recruiters have a different view.
To be clear, there are three types of these society memberships. There are some where you can pay to join, and there is no 'qualification' other than having available cash. There are some where you need to pass exams, or prove you have a certain amount of experience. Finally, there are some where you need to have the membership in order to practice your profession.
If you need the membership in order to practice, then this is absolutely a yes/no question for a recruiter. If you don't have the qualification, your application goes no further. The other types are more complicated. Take project management for example. In some countries you need to pass exams to join the Institute or Society. This only tells the recruiter that you can pass exams and keep up with your professional development. It isn't actually evidence that you can deliver a project on time, on budget and to quality. With two resumes in front of you, one which lists the PMI membership but no specific project delivery information and the other which lists 5 projects of approximately the right size and complexity delivered on time but no PMI, it's likely the one without the PMI will be invited to interview.
Paying to join a society may be evidence of your willingness to keep up with your industry, it isn't the deciding factor your might think. As a recruiter I know that companies sometimes pay blanket dues for people in certain positions. Larger companies tend to pay these more often than smaller companies. Another candidate might have all the right experience but work for a smaller company, where the dues are less likely to be paid. Should I discriminate on that basis? I wouldn't, because it doesn't tell me anything about her ability, only about the kind of company that she works for.
Those of you hiring, how important are society memberships in your decision making process?