How to Get a Job When Unemployment Rates Are High - Work In Sports Podcast

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at and this is another special edition of the Work In Sports podcast…

For the last month and a half, we’ve gone to 3 episodes a week so that we could keep supplying you with the most up-to-date industry-relevant information and guidance. We’ve added a ton of new listeners so thanks to all of you for either tuning in for the first time, or continually listening.

If you are a new listener, I want you to know that all of our content is evergreen. Meaning, it is still just as relevant as the day we posted it. So if you go back through our archives, and see that I interviewed super agents like Nicole Lynn, Leigh Steinberg or Jack Mills…  or James Kimball from the UFC, or Kara Walker from the Boston Celtics...or any of our other incredible guests… know this...we don’t talk about last night’s game or specific plays or events tied to that moment in time. 

We talk about their career, how they got where they are and what guidance they have for you, in our audience. 

So go back, listen to any of our episodes, and you’ll get incredible sports career advice.

Alright, last note before I get into today’s episode… 

On Wednesday I interviewed Leah Clayton, who is the Director of Marketing for the athletic department at Lenoir Rhyne. Many, many, many of you have asked me to interview people in smaller athletic departments, or to get people earlier in their career -- well, Leah is both, she’s just a few ears into her sports career, and she’s really making a mark at Lenoir-Rhyne.

She is also wildly charismatic, and I had a really really good time interviewing her. Smart and funny….plus she called me out for mispronouncing her alma mater, which I loved. I absolutely love it when someone is confident enough to call me out.

OK, so what do we want to talk about today?

This question from Ben in Washington stood out to me…

“Hey Brian, love the podcast, I’m a pretty new listener but I’ve gone back and listened to 5 of your previous episodes and really enjoyed the content.  My favorite so far was Celia Bouza from ESPN Next - you and her had a really strong rapport, and I loved that chemistry.

I’m a college senior, so my world has been turned a bit upside down. For the last decade we’ve had pretty low unemployment numbers, people were getting jobs. Now, unemployment is going to go through the roof. You’ve lived through this more than most of us… what is it really like when unemployment is high?”

Ben -- welcome to the community, and thanks for listening. Celia is one of my favorites too -- glad you enjoyed that one and YES, I am old enough to remember when unemployment was high. 

I’m old enough to remember how scary it was with the financial crash of 2007-2008. And I’m old enough to remember 9/11 and the fears that came after that. I was working at CNN during 9/11 and that was a scary, scary time. 

But rather than focus on what it was like to live through those moments, let’s focus on the job market during high unemployment. 

1: Employers get really, really frustrated. 

They have roles to fill, but because unemployment is high, they get more and more unqualified people applying for their jobs, hoping that they’ll get lucky.

2: Finding the right match gets harder

Employers deal with lots of noise… and they look for ways to cut through it. 

Which means they rely on two things...sites like ours, and applicant tracking systems.

At we have tools for employers to filter through our database of resumes, find matches for their openings, invite them to apply, and more. This allows the employer to actively find the right matches for their jobs, rather than relying on blind submissions.

It is a huge benefit to you to post your resume on our site. 

Also, they rely on applicant tracking systems to manage their hiring process. They always use these anyway, but in these times they really rely on them to cut through the noise.

3: Which means you HAVE TO make your resume fantastic. It must highlight your skills. It must be market-ready - you have to know what is in demand for the marketplace!

Now, let’s get specific here -- when you are applying for a specific job make sure your resume is really catered to that job. Make sure you are highlighting your specific skills that are important for that role, and giving them the proper weight on your resume. I.e. don’t bury them, highlight them.

That is how employers will find you. Trust me, they are doing keyword searches on resumes trying to find the perfect match for their role. 

When you place your resume on a site like ours which isn’t for a specific role, it has to be the best base version of your resume, do some research -- if you want to work in marketing, look at 20 marketing jobs, find out what skills are in high demand and make sure you highlight as many as you can on your resume. 

The difference here is -- if you are applying for a job in email marketing, you’ll need to put more and more details regarding skills and experience you have in email marketing.

If you are putting a base resume on our site, you need to mention your email marketing skills, but you may not go into as much depth because you also need to mention you’ve done X, Y and you know photoshop, Final cut pro and the latest CMS.

You see the difference?!

4: The employers have leverage.

In a market when unemployment is low sometimes employers have to take someone with potential, or with just enough skills. 

When unemployment is high, they can choose the best of the best for their roles. 

How does this impact you? -- only apply for jobs you are a really good match for.  Not only will you save yourself the heartache of email auto responders saying they’ve decided to go in a different direction, but thanks.

But you’ll also prevent yourself from getting labeled as desperate. Employers track who applies for their jobs… if you are popping up all the time, they will label you in a desperate manner, and this can really hurt negotiations, in their interest in you, in how seriously they take you. 

Stay focused on jobs you are highly qualified for… and if you are finding you aren’t highly qualified for enough jobs… get back to work learning the skills you need.

5: Don’t think if you apply for jobs beneath you, that will work to your benefit. 

Employers don’t like to higher overqualified people. If you were a manager, and now you are applying for an entry level role… this is not a slam dunk. Employers see that as a red flag, they know you; ’ll be frustrated in the role because it is beneath you, you’ll be looking to leave the first chance you get, or be expecting a promotion within the first 60 days. They know you may not be coachable, or want to be an executor, or that you will undermine their authority by second-guessing them.

You look like a headache waiting to happen.

Stay in your lane, it doesn’t make sense to go low unless times get really tough...then we all need to make adjustments. 

6: The main thing to remember… even during times of high unemployment, the best people still get jobs. 

If you are listening to this podcast and putting the advice you are given into action, you have interned with a focus on experience and relationships, you have networked, you have researched the industry, you know you fit… you will find work. 

Alright everyone -- keep your head up and your hands washed. 

Talk to everyone on Monday!

By Brian Clapp | April 10, 2020
Sign In or Register to access all articles and insider tips for help in your job search.

Search for Sports Jobs