How Do You Pivot in Your Sports Career? Work in Sports Podcast e034

By Brian Clapp | January 05, 2018

Looking to Change the Focus of Your Sports Career? How Do You Pivot into a New Sports Job?

Hi everybody, I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work In Sports podcast.

Our first QA session of the year! I love getting your questions so if you have something gnawing on your conscience, let’s talk about it…because chances are if you have the question so do other people in this community. Email me –

Quick shout out to fan of the show James P from Northwestern who has asked some great questions in the past – he’s a little disappointed he was a finalist for a job with the Milwaukee Brewers but didn’t get a job, but as I told him and I’ll tell all of you, every chance you have to interview is a chance to improve and get better. Your Sports Career Questions Answered

Don't take it as a defeat, take it as a learning experience. You got more experience interviewing, so now is the time to do a self-analysis and think about areas you didn’t handle well, or need to expand your horizons -- after this experience you are more prepared for your next opportunity, so buck up and get out there.

Time for today's question from, Lauren in Wisconsin

As you touched on in one of your previous podcasts, there are many different areas of specializations in both professional and collegiate sports (i.e Sports Reporting, Community Relations, marketing, business operations, analysts, etc). What do you think about people who are working in an area but want to pursue a position in new one? How do you recommend going about it?

I followed up with Lauren to get a little more detail – she is currently working in Community Relations at a major college athletic program, but has learned she really enjoys the video production part of her job and wants to pivot towards the video/photography/storytelling aspect of the job.

But my answer will apply for anyone who wants to make a change in their career within the sports industry. So if you are working in sales and want to get into operations, this advice works for you too.

Lauren, the first thing you need to realize is that everyone pivots.

We all shift and move in our career and try different paths. In fact, according to multiple studies people change careers, full careers, 5-7 times over their lifetime. One report from CNN Money said in the first decade out of college millennials change employers on average 4 times…which is a huge change over previous generations.

The reason I bring this up is because the first thing you have to do is remove fear or a feeling of, I can’t do this, out of your mind. It’s not as uncommon as you think, people change and shift and adjust all the time.

We all tend to shackle ourselves with emotional chains that aren’t based in fact. Often the first thing you need to do in any career shake up moment, is to convince yourself it’s not only possible it’s probable.

Simply put, don’t let you hold you back.

But now that we got the emotional chains part out of the way…   let’s talk action, because I’m not that great at all the smooshy stuff.

I’ll break this down into three categories: Your Skills, Your Portfolio and Your Network

1: If you are going to change your career, even if it’s a relatively subtle shift - you need to overachieve with the tangible skills of the new position. We’ll use Lauren as the example.

Anyone who went to school for video production or journalism has a natural advantage over you. How do you make up that gap? By learning as many of the tangible skills you can. So if you want to get into video production – take an online class on Final Cut Pro editing, Audio, Camera work – things of that nature. You need sticky parts of your resume that show you have the right skills profile. The things that say, I can do this job, I am qualified and competent.

2: Your portfolio

You have to approach your resume/portfolio differently – every single skill you’ve learned needs to be highlighted near the top of your resume, even before you get into jobs and experience.

I’ve seen this before and it works – right under your name and contact info include a section of “skills” and include all of the learned skills you have in video production…or for any of the other people listening, it could be marketing or analytics, or sales etc.

I’ll include a screen shot of what I mean in the show notes on the work in sports blog for this episode:

sports industry resume
This may or may not be part of my old resume
By doing this, the first thing an employer or an applicant tracking system will read is your actual skills. Not just your prior job titles.

The next thing you need to do is tell a great story in your cover letter -  explain how your current job helped you to realize where your true passion and excitement exists and you have spent the last 6 months taking classes in whatever skills you have taken on.

You also need to show some grit and determination. If you want a job doing video production for a minor league baseball team, go to the local high school, rent some equipment or use your iphone, get a friend to help with camera work, and do a full bore story production and include that with your application.

Video resumes and demonstrations of capabilities work.

You need to go above and beyond, show off your skills, get it right in their face so you can’t be ignored. Everyone else with a degree in the discipline is going to get by on just their schooling – so you need to go the extra step and be special.

3: Finally Your Network.

I find most people self-censor afraid to talk about their changing career objectives for fear they’ll upset or let people down. Don’t be afraid to respectfully talk to the people in your network about what you are passionate about. Respectfully is an important part of this. Don’t yard bark it, just have conversations with people you respect or have learned from.

I’ll tell you this, as a person who has hired many young people starting out – I love it when I can help someone find their true path, even if it is different from the role I have hired them for.

Talk to former professors, internship leaders, contacts you’ve made in your job and let them know you’ve found it… you’ve found your niche, and you respect them enough to talk about itand would love their help or insight. You’ll be amazed by the amount of people who say something like – you know I know someone at company X, want me to connect you with them?

Then you are off and running.

I hope that helps give you a plan Lauren – and anyone out there considering a career pivot.

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