Sports Jobs Q&A - Transitioning from Military to Sports Career

By Brian Clapp | November 28, 2016
sports jobs military to sports career
The experience gained by being a part of our nations military can help ease the transition into sports jobs
Recently, we've encountered many questions from military members looking to transition out of the forces and into the sports world.

I don't know that sports jobs can mimic the adrenaline of the front lines, but what would, right?

This is an important subject. The men and women that support our country through their service, deserve our support and guidance as they transition in their life and career. I'm honored to take a moment to share some advice in this weeks Sports Jobs Q&A column.

If you have questions about sports jobs that you'd like us to answer in an upcoming column, please include it in the comment section below, add it to our LinkedIn group, or tweet at us - we are always listening.

The Q:


I am finishing my Sports Management degree and transitioning out of the Army. I was wondering what sports professionals look for on a resume. I am limited on experience as far as the business aspect goes but, have unlimited leadership experience.

If its business experience that is needed, I will look at spending as much free time that I may have interning in sports. Is there a specific side of sports I should lean on that would allow for growth in the business while being a leader? For sports jobs is it more about experience in systems or bringing leadership to the team?

  My goal is to get into sports and eventually becoming a high level executive.  Thanks for your time.

Charles Smith Field Artillery Officer at U.S. Army; Transitioning AUG '14

The A:


Charles - you bring up a very interesting question.

I'm an advocate of obtaining specific skills necessary to accomplish jobs or tasks when you are trying to break into the sports world. For example, non-linear editing skills for sports networks, running a board for sports radio, financial/accounting skills for working in team operations. It's my belief that is how you get a resume to stand out for sports jobs and have a chance at getting your foot in the door.

That said, you have something unique in your background as a leader that is incredibly valuable and we need to figure out how to best leverage that.

The tricky part is when you break into any industry, you don't necessarily have the opportunity to show leadership - think of a rookie in the NFL, expected to keep quiet and carry shoulder pads. Leadership really comes into play when you get a job, can motivate a staff, keep people in line, set a good example. Leaders usually climb the career ladder quickly.

But it doesn't necessarily get you that initial job opportunity.

My personal belief is you need to acquire specific skills to get that first chance, and then show off your leadership skills. You don't have to be an expert in something, but you have to show enough aptitude that a hiring manager would be willing to see the potential in you. I interviewed a radio station manager recently, and they told me more often than not they hire the person with good skills and great attitude, rather that great skills and a lackluster mindset.

I couldn't agree more.

As someone who has hired many people over my career, early on I made the mistake of always hiring the most skilled person, as I gained more experience I realized every candidate needs skills, but also needs the right team attitude.

OK, so now lets get down to it.

My suggestion - you are getting a sports management degree (nice work) do as many internships as you can and while you are on your internships, talk with everyone in the building. Find out what they do, why they love or hate it, what skills they think are most important for success and then start crafting your plan to acquire the knowledge necessary.

If you want to be an executive with a pro team, get an internship or job shadow someone in the minor leagues - that is the best place to learn the ins and outs of the business. If you intern with a big team like the New England Patriots, you may only be allowed to engage in a small slice of the business. If you intern with the Maine Red Claws of the NBADL you'll get a chance to do just about everything.

Now your resume will have specific skills on it, and you'll have a chance to leverage your leadership skills. The sky is the limit.

Hope this helps Charles - please lean on us if you have more questions, we'd love to stay in touch with you as you make career progress!

If you have other ideas or suggestion for Charles, or want to include your own question for next weeks Sports Jobs column - just add it to the comments below.

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