sports career advice

How to Start Your New Job on the Right Track

By Brian Clapp | June 21, 2021

Hey everybody I’m Brian Clapp, VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the WorkInSports podcast. 

Let’s get right into today’s sports career question from Gerald in Oregon! 

The Q 

“Hey Brian, whether you know it or not, you have been advising me for years. I know this is the first time I’ve reached out, but I’ve been a huge fan and you’ve profoundly changed my perspective and approach on so many career-focused initiatives. I started listening when I was a junior in college, I graduated last year, and just landed my first full-time gig in the sports industry.  

One thing I haven’t heard you talk about is starting a new gig. What should I expect in my first month and what can I do to really stand out for the right reasons?” 

This is a great question and I love it when audience members identify gaps in our content coverage and express your needs and wants – keep emailing in your questions, I want our sports career advice to be as useful as possible!  

Ok, so let’s dig in. Great topic, many people in our industry are finding work, the uptick in sports employment and activity is real. As I mentioned I just talked to Kali Franklin from Overtime elite and she’s hiring around 70 roles. John Ferguson from Monumental Sports (Wizards, Caps, Mystic) said he’s got about 60 open spots.  

Hiring is surging which means a lot of people starting new roles. 

Let’s approach this topic as dos and don’ts versus your typical listicle.

DO: Smile, Make Eye Contact and get to Know People

It’s harder getting to know people when you are working remote, but a lot of roles are coming back to the office and sports roles tend to be in person anyhow. Either way, whether you are remote or in person, you want to be known around your new office as open and approachable, kind and welcoming. A simple smile and introduction with eye contact go a long way to setting up who you are.  

DON’T: Be Afraid to ask Questions 

Starting out, I was so afraid to ask questions for fear people would think I was inferior or incapable. That’s stupid. You must ask questions – it shows curiosity, a desire to know the right way to perform your job, and an overall level of care.  

Not asking questions leads to mistakes...and that looks a lot worse.  

DO:Try and Figure Things out Yourself too 

I want to temper the last point, if you are always asking people questions about things you should be able to start figuring out, that’s not a good sign either. You don’t want to be the person always needing their hand held and never really reaching to figure things out. Stretch to figure things out, if you still can’t, then ask questions.  

DON’T: Over Commit  

Often when people start a new gig, they want desperately to be known as saying yes to everything. Good in theory, but it doesn’t always pencil. If you go to every meeting, say yes to every project, take on every bit of extra work – you are going to get sloppy and/or stressed. Be aggressive, say yes as often as you can, but don’t overdo it. Have an open dialogue with your boss to understand what’s needed/expected vs. what is extra.  

Don’t try to do it all in the first month, like I said, it sounds good but rarely works out that way.  

DO: Learn the Available Tools and Processes 

Every organization has processes that guide their teams. Focus here early on. Learn how things run so you can start to seamlessly fit in. For example, if your last company did everything in excel, and now the new company uses different tools to manage projects, don’t be the person living in excel and sending out project briefs in a spreadsheet. 

The most important thing you can do is start adapting and learning the new processes to get things done.  

One the same front, every organization has productivity tools. Focus here. If you learn the tools and the processes, you will start making a positive impact and impression. 

DON’T: Compare Everything to your Last Job 

This is somewhere I still mess up even to this day. If you find yourself saying, “well, at my old company we used to do things this way” or in college “we were taught to do it like this” more than a few times, know you are probably starting to annoy people.  

You are here now, and you’ll have the opportunity to inject your vision and thoughts, but don’t keep citing where you used to be. What your co-workers start to hear is, “when we did things better at my last job” and it’s a big turn off. 

You can still make suggestions but don’t preface everything with any added qualifiers, just have a viewpoint you want to share.  

DO: Find a Buddy in the Building  

When WorkInSports was bought by iHire our team had to fit into their systems and processes, so this is something I speak of with some recent experience. It was like starting a new job for the first time in many years for me.  

IHire has a great policy, every new employee has a buddy on the team. Shout out to Erin Schwartz, my buddy on the marketing team. My buddy wasn’t my boss, it was an equal on the team with more experience in the processes and procedures I could go to with questions. It centralized the process and gave me someone to lean on with my questions. Plus, she’s cool, which made it even better, helping me feel connected to the new team at once.  

She may have a different view, complaining about having to be my buddy, but I’m going to run with this idea of it being awesome all around.  

Point is, if your organization doesn’t do it for you, find someone on equal or near equal footing who has been with the company longer than you, and lean into them with questions, fears and concerns. Have them double check your understanding of process, if you have a project to deliver ask nicely if they can look and make sure it is in the right format before you deliver.  

And then, remember to do something nice for them. If they are helping you, let them know they are appreciated – after the first month, give them a gift card or something, doesn’t have to be crazy, but just to let them know how important it has been to you to have them on your side.  

Be kind. It always works.  

DO: Keep Connected with your Boss in a Very Efficient Manner.  

There is a balance between over and under communicating with your boss. You don’t need to tell them every step you make, but you do need to make sure you are hitting the mark on your work.  

Schedule one on one time with them and make it a pointed time to reflect on what you have learned and where your challenges are. 

A big mistake people make is trying to give off an aura of perfection with a new boss. When you get one-on-one time, don’t waste it by saying, “everything is great!” be honest, reflect, ask good questions, and take the opportunity to learn their style, wants and needs.  

You are likely going to be working with this person for a long time, be a good listener to best understand what is important to them and how they work. At the same time, ask provoking questions: Can you give me feedback on this project? Are there added tasks I should be picking up? Are there specific thigs I could learn that will make your job easier?” 

Make sure every moment you have with your boss is an extremely effective use of both of your times! 

Do these things, and you’ll be on track for a great first week and month! 


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