How to Craft the Ideal Resume for Your Sports Career - Work in Sports Podcast e48

By Brian Clapp | February 09, 2018

Creating the Ideal Resume for your Sports Career

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

Let’s get right into our Friday question shall we.

There are a few pillars of job seeking things like: networking, gaining experience, interviewing – but there are also the basics like your materials, your resume, cover letter, portfolio, demo reel – all those items designed to convince someone you are the right match for their job opening.Your Sports Career Questions Answered

This weeks question comes in from Sarah-Marie Doherty – and since I am answering Sarah’s question she’ll get a free month on our site – since 1999 the #1 job board for the sports industry – for real.

I’m in there everyday, since it’s my job, and I’m amazed by some of the cool jobs I see daily around the country.

Anyway onto Sarah's question:

In your opinion, what does the ideal resume look like? What characteristics does it have? Education, Skills, Experience? One page or two? Do you feel that it is better to have a clean and classic resume or a colorful one that may show the applicants personality a little more?

The ideal resume. Good question Sarah because I think this is something so many of us struggle with.

We all have a resume, but is it any good? How do you even know what “good” looks like? Aren’t opinions subjective on this, since what one person loves another may hate?

Basically I’ve just compounded Sarah’s question with even more questions – very Socratic of me. But it’s honest because there is no perfect resume, there are just best practices. Meaning, I can help guide you towards the right concepts for a resume, and tell you what works often… but that isn’t a guarantee by any means.

Even if you do all of these tricks and follow best practices, it doesn’t mean the Yankees will hire you…but they may be more likely to notice you exist…which is a start.

Let’s start first with an over-arching premise for what makes a good resume, then we’ll get into the weeds a bit.

The ideal resume is customized to the job, the employer and the job description you are applying for. Period. A one size fits all scenarios resume is not going to get you far. Think Steph Curry only has one way to score? Nope. Think Mike Trout only has one way to hit? Nope. Think Roger Federer oly has one way to hit a forehand? Nope. Think Gronk only has one way to spike…well, yeah, probably.

The point is, each job is unique, and has certain skills that are emphasized. Each company has a certain vibe and culture. And while some places will completely ignore you cover letter – everyone checks your resume. It’s the one thing we know they will see. So make it work for that job.

A job for an inside sales rep with the Milwaukee Bucks will have different wants and needs than a marketing coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles. You may be qualified for both – but you need to change the emphasis on your resume and top load the qualities each employer will want to see.

And if you don’t understand the term “top load”, I mean stuff the most important stuff near the top.

That’s a lot of stuff.

The other reason for this technique of customizing each resume is to “Beat the ATS” – sounds like a game show, but it’s more of a reality program. Applicant tracking systems review your resume before humans in most cases and they filter out about 75% of applicants for their lack of proper qualifications before reaching someone’s warm hands.

You need to read through the job description you are applying for, find the common words, phrases, requirements, skills etc and make sure they appear in your resume. That way, when the ATS scans, they’ll see you have a consistent match. Now don’t lie and say you have skills you don’t, this is just a manner to make sure you put the best part of you, for this job, forward.

Ok – now let’s talk format.

Let me quote my friend Carl Manteau Sr Director of Group Sales for the Milwaukee Bucks, who shared this in our private facebook group – which you can join by searching for “the work in sports podcast” on facebook.

Anyway – Carl answered a question about how long your resume should be:
“It depends on what you are applying for- for most sales positions and entry positions, it should be 1 page only. Multiple pages are usually reserved for managerial and higher executive positions. To be completely honest- it’s more about your first few lines than the overall length. If you don’t capture the reader's attention at the start, your resume will be tossed before they get to the bottom, let alone the second page.”

Ding Ding – Carl Wins!

He is so right. I’ve reviewed hundreds of resumes over my career and I had a very simple process. I’d look at the name, if they had an opening mission statement I’d skim it, then I’d look at the employers they had worked or interned for.

In 5-10 seconds I could determine if this person had the experience necessary to work in our office. If they met my baseline, i.e. they had worked at employers that made me feel even slightly confident they could work in our environment, I’d look for more details.

Let’s break that down a little further.

Let’s say I was interviewing for an Associate Producer job – I’d skim their experience, just looking at the previous employers names, and then determine if it was worth going into further detail. If they worked for their college station and did an internship at a small market station I’d pass because I knew they weren’t ready. If they worked at two different mid-market stations, maybe I’d take a deeper look because there is a chance they are ready.

So two part point here – experience matters, and you don’t have much time to make an impression so make the top of your resume count.

Alright so one page for entry level, 1+ for managerial/executive.

What else?

Let’s talk about that opening objective statement again near the top. I’m going to cite Carl again, because we are in lockstep about this:
“Make your resume relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a sales position, use that prime real estate to highlight the success you've had selling. If you don't have a lot of experience, then use that space to sell yourself. What skills or other experiences do you have that make you stand apart?

Some people use an Objective Statement...I usually despise these because most of them are fluff ("I'm seeking a position that combines my education with my passion...blah blah blah"). If you are going to use a statement, then have it speak directly to the job. In the sales example: "My objective is to become the top revenue generator for (team name)". A statement like this is direct, personalized, and it speaks to what you can bring to the team. Remember, in the eyes of the recruiter, it's not about you, it's about the team and how you can/can't help them achieve their goals.”

The last part is so important to realize – you are being considered because the employer believes you can help their business NOT because they want to see you reach your goals of combining your passion for marketing with a job that challenges you… or some other fluff.

Sell them on how you will help them.

Don’t give me “I’m an experienced marketer with a passion for the NBA looking for a role that will combine all of my multiple skill sets in print and brand marketing”

That is a statement about you.

Instead say, “My objective is to build the brand of the New York Knicks in ways that will develop new revenue channels, increase recognition and expand the international growth of the game of basketball”

Now that says what you will do for them, not what they can do for you!

Another formatting concept:

Take it easy on the bold, italics and caps. Bold your previous employers, maybe italicize your previous job titles, but make the format consistent and uniform, don’t overdo it. If you italicize one previous job, do them all.

Nothing bothered me more than inconsistent resume format. It showed a lack of attention to detail. I had one person who spelled their own name wrong on their different portfolio pieces (demo rell/resume/cover letter) I’ve had people bold their employers in one spot and then not in another. Maybe I’m OCD but this drives me nuts.

Couple of quick hitting concepts here:

  • I saw a quote today that made me laugh – it was regarding fonts to use on your resume it said “Stay away from Times New Roman, it is the sweatpants of fonts” I liked that. That said, don’t go crazy, stay clean and easily legible.

  • The top 1/3 of your resume is the most important real estate, use this wisely. Maybe instead of your big bold name and three lines for your address, you put your name and the url to your linkedin profile. Then make sure your linkedin profile is dialed in. It’s a digital world baby.

  • Emphasize your hard skills over your soft skills. Soft skills will come up in the interview, but the way you get the interview is to have the right hard skills. Talk about your public speaking and your marketing achievements, not your attentiveness in meeting and punctuality.

  • Use metrics whenever possible. Data to show how you changed things at any organization you worked for is more convincing than anything else. If you want to work in social media, make sure your resume states data on engagement, followers etc. That shows you can do the job and positively change the business. This is a great way to focus on your successes!

  • Oh and don’t go colorful – unless it’s a graphic design job. You aren’t being hired for your choice in paper color, you will be hired for your abilities. Focus on how you highlight your abilities, more than the personality, which the applicant tracking system will never pick up on anyway.

Your goal is to get through phase 1 – the ATS and the human review. The only way you do this is by showing you are a great match for their job. Not just any job, their job. Then in phase two, you’ll be in front of the hiring manager, or managers, and you can show off personality and all your wonderful traits.

I think that does it – that was a lot of info. You may need to listen to this one twice.

Sarah Marie thanks for th great question – she’s getting a free month at work which if I haven’t mentioned is the #1 job board in the sporys industry, we currently have over 6300 sports jobs and another 500 internships. We work with over 8,000 sports employers big and small. We make finding the job of your dreams a lot easier and more efficient. So check it out!

For, I’m Brian Clapp and I think I’m done.

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