If you’re in association management, you may be beginning to notice that it’s a whole industry in and of itself. And you’re probably realizing how great it is! But transitioning between association jobs is different than moving through jobs in other career paths. Besides not being as simple as hunting down openings Monster.com, you almost always have to translate those popular job description buzz words from what they mean to most people to what they mean to association leaders. 

Allow me to demonstrate:

Time management

What it means in other jobs: Ability to complete tasks on deadline, get to work on time, not bill too much overtime, be cognizant of time constraints and the pressures of completing tasks within a specified time frame. 

What it means to an association leader: Ability to get things done yesterday. Okay not quite that urgently, but in a hasty but careful manner.

Leadership skills

What it means in other jobs: Taking charge of a task and “owning it” by leading task completion efforts among colleagues. 

What it means to an association leader: be everything from a task master to a Girl Scout leader and answer all kinds of problems ranging from actual association administrative challenges to a board member’s personal struggles with a work colleague.

Ability to work on a team or solo

What it means in other jobs: You are able to complete tasks without help of work on a team without conflict. 

What it means to an association leader: You are able to lead a group tasked with dividing and tackling the work, but must still be able to handle it 100% yourself. 


What it means in other jobs: Be able to juggle two or three projects at once without losing time or focus. 

What it means to an association leader: Simultaneously pacify the board, keep the national chapter in the loop, program events, communicate with members, lead a staff, recruit volunteers, plan events, answer emails, make phone calls, work with the technology available, write and give presentations, answer community needs, stay on top of industry trends, and still squeeze in time for networking. 

Technical skills

What it means in other jobs: Word processing and internet usage at the very basic level, mastering and utilizing a necessary program daily at the upper level. 

What it means to an association leader: Master, troubleshoot, and train others on a variety of programs with a variety of intended needs to be met. 

Association leaders are a very special, very cool type of person to be able to handle all of these skills with grace. Keep in mind the “real” definitions of these terms and think up some prime examples for your next interview or when you start to see your next batch of interviewees! 

Technology contributing to your headaches as an association leader? Perhaps an AMS is the right solution for you! But how? Click below to download our free guide.