Hold your horses there, tiger!
I know you are excited; I know you want to start applying to sports jobs right now and get your sports career cranking.
But, there are a few things you need to do first before you hit send on that first sports job application.
A little bit of pre-planning, a little clean-up job here and there, a little nip and tuck, and you'll be ready to get out there before you know it!
There are eight things you need to do first before you apply for a single sports job. Do these things, and you'll have a much better chance of career bliss. (Too much?)
You probably won't be surprised to realize that I like to use sports stories as a teaching device. We're a sports site; I've worked my entire career in sports, it fits.
Channel your favorite NFL team (Go Patriots!). Your favorite team has a base defense; they practice it all off-season, they are the masters of this system.
But every week, before every opponent, they make tweaks to the base defense. Different blitz packages, coverage schemes, upfront games to attack the weaknesses of that opponent.
Take this same philosophy to your sports career-focused resume.
Have a base version. It looks pretty, it highlights you in beautiful ways, your skills and experience are clear, it's perfect.
For every job you apply to, tweak it to match THAT opportunity. You aren't just making changes for change's sake; you highlight specific skills this particular sports job is saying they need and want. Maybe you bring a bullet point up higher or expand a little deeper on a skill this job clearly demands.
The goal is, make your resume match the specific sports job for which you are applying. No base defense here. Game plan.
Now, we also have to go a layer deeper. The version we just talked about, your base version, is the version you'll send to people via email as a .pdf or bring with you in printed fashion to a career fair.
But it is not the version you will use to apply to sports jobs online.
When you apply for a sports job online, and the sports employer requests you to upload or attach your resume, that is a red flag that they are using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). We won't get into the plusses and minuses of ATS here, but suffice it to say it requires a slightly different resume.
The first thing an ATS does is strip out your fancy formatting and turns your sports resume into text. If you have columns or images, this will not look good in the ATS.
How do you prevent this problem?
Have a version of your resume optimized for the ATS, meaning it is boring! Format your sports resume with just text left to right across the entire width of the page.
Bottom line, have a pretty version of your resume to hand out or email, a bland version of your resume to apply online, and customize them for the specific sports job for which you are applying.
Do this, and you are off to a good start, but we have seven more sports job search tips to come.
The first thing any hiring manager does after they've determined you have the skills they are looking for is to check your online accounts to learn more about who you are.
Update your LinkedIn with your professional data and make sure your Twitter timeline doesn't have many insensitive posts or pictures.
Hiring managers will get a feel for your cultural fit based on how you represent yourself on social. That is your personal brand; make sure it represents you.
Imagine this scenario for a second.
You apply for a sports job and are feeling fired up and excited about the opportunity. The sports employer of your dreams calls to set up a phone interview – things are looking good!
Then they say, please send us over your references before the interview.
Do you have their updated contact info? Have you spoken to them lately?
The last thing you want is to be in a panic situation trying to track down contact information when the clock is ticking on your ideal sports job opportunity.
Get this stuff worked out beforehand! Call your people, make sure you have their info, and they are ready to be a great reference.
DO NOT put out a blast on social media: "I'm looking for work, got any leads for an experienced (insert you) who loves working with people?"
This blast action wreaks of desperation, and that's bad.
Make a personal outreach to those people you think can help you — no blasts! Personal touch! Put some effort into it!
You will apply to many sports jobs before you find the one. You will be juggling processes, from follow-up emails, to research, to phone interviews and contact info.
Keep it all in one place. Organized, on point.
Lucky you, we have a Sports Job Application Tracking Worksheet built just for you.
Now all you have to do is USE IT!
Search your name; if there are any weird results out there, be prepared to handle any questions from someone wondering if that is you.
I speak of this from first-hand experience. There is a steroids dealer who was busted in Texas with my name.
On more than one occasion, I've been asked if I was from Texas originally, and I knew what the interviewer was getting at. I was prepared and ready to handle their objection and turn it into a funny conversation.
If I didn't know this existed, I wouldn't have handled it well.
Sports employers are your friend. Anyone interviewing you wants you to answer their problems; they want you to be the perfect fit. They are on your side.
But, they will also probe your weaknesses and see how you handle them when confronted.
Do you have a gap on your resume, be prepared to have an answer for it.
If you were laid off, be prepared to talk about that.
Look for those weaknesses in your portfolio and get a game plan together on how you want to explain it.
Don't get caught off guard!
Sports job interviewers LOVE behavioral interview questions.
Tell me about a time you…had a demanding customer and had to make them happy.
Tell me about a time you…faced a deadline you didn't think you could make.
Tell me about a time you…had to utilize data to make an important business decision
You can't prepare for everything, but if you go through your past experiences and try to recount your accomplishments, your brain will be activated in this manner and ready for more.
You are priming your thought patterns and getting them juiced up and ready to roll.
If you do these eight things before starting your sports job search, you will be in a fantastic position and ready to hit GO on your sports career!