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How to Fulfill Your Members’ Needs – Millennials, Gen Xers, or Baby Boomers

Professional membership organizations and associations are leaders within their industries. Members of every generation join to connect with like-minded individuals, drive career growth and continue learning. Most organizations provide a wealth of educational resources. But is that enough? Are organizations meeting the needs of current members and the market? 

In this blog, we’ll focus on the intersection of professional development and career advancement from the perspective of Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer association members. 

The following insights reflect a 2018 research report by Community Brands, in which more than 1,000 members of professional membership organizations throughout the United States participated. 

First, let’s look at the unique habits and needs of each generation. 


  • Millennials place more weight on learning new skills and gaining access to career advancement.  
  • Besides their employers and association(s) they belong to, millennials receive professional education and training the most from a college or university. 
  • Millennials prefer to have recommendations on their learning paths. 
  • Millennials like the idea of being able to connect their continuing education directly to available jobs or employers.  
  • They embrace social sharing, digital badges and posting tactics that allow them to highlight their continuing education on places like job boards, LinkedIn and other professional and social profiles. 
  • 56 percent of Millennials surveyed use their association’s career center/job board. 
learning paths

When it comes to the professional development and training your organization offers, which of the following do members prefer?

Gen Xers

  • Gen Xers prioritize continuing education and skill building opportunities.  
  • Besides their employers and association(s) they belong to, Gen Xers receive professional education and training the most from a training institute.  
  • Gen Xers are equally interested in building their own learning paths and having their association provide recommendations. 
  • 54 percent of Millennials surveyed use their association’s career center/job board. 

Baby Boomers

  • Baby Boomers would like their associations to provide continuing education, networking, certification, and credentialing opportunities. 
  • Besides their employers and association(s) they belong to, Baby Boomers receive professional education and training the most from professional organizations they do NOT belong to. 
  • Baby Boomers prefer to build their own learning paths. 
  • Only 24 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed use their association’s career center/job board. 

Now, let’s look at how these generations are alike. 

Learning new skills, career advancement, and mentoring programs/professional advice rank as “very important” to all three generations. And across the board, there are three top motivators that play a large role in members’ reasons to participate in professional training. These are: keeping up to date with new best practices and new innovative approaches, becoming more competent in members’ jobs, and earning or keeping up with certifications. 

professional education and training

For members, what role does each of these drivers play in their decision to take professional education and training?

All generations prioritize continuing education opportunities and learning new skills as benefits they seek and need. Members prefer personalized learning paths that are self-constructed or recommended and use various modes of learning to best fit with their lifestyle. When asked about their interest in recommended learning paths, members report a desire for recommendations based largely on required job skills, certification opportunities, career stage and past interest in particular topics.  

When it comes to discovering new job postings from their professional membership organization and within their professional network, members across all generations expect their associations to keep up with technology. Overall, most members prefer dedicated emails, monthly newsletters, and email recommendations specific to them based on past activity. Member behaviors are showing a desire for targeted, focused and relevant messaging around what they are most interested in. 

communication preferences

How do members prefer to hear about new job opportunities from their organizations?

Are you fulfilling members’ needs – of every generation? 

Seeking support in career advancement will only continue to increase in importance, especially with the growing workforce of Millennials. Associations can connect members to career growth in a variety of ways. Consider how your organization’s services and offerings support member career advancement today and how they may be easily enhanced or improved upon.  

Request a personalized demo with YM Careers to learn more about how your association can fulfill members' needs at every career stage.

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