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    job application for sport

    Getting a job in sport business is hard enough but many people don’t help themselves with terrible applications. That’s good news. It is, really! Why? Because if you craft a great application you can put yourself straight into the top 20%, leaping ahead of all the generic white noise the other 80% generate.

    The key word here is ‘generic’. Generic is the fast track to the waste paper bin and another rejection. The antidote to generic is ‘bespoke’. Bespoke is the superhighway to being in the mix and getting an interview.

    So what needs to be bespoke and how do you approach the sport business industry for a role? Here is a guide.

    What do you want to do?

    The first thing to note is that you are a genius. You are.

    “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”

    Albert Einstein

    The take-out here of course is finding your genius. What is it that you are good at and what is it you enjoy doing? We are assuming that sport rocks your world as that’s why you are reading this but what bit of it are you aiming for? There are a wide range of disciplines and therefore understanding what they are where you skill-set lies is the first step. Have a think about what you believe are the main disciplines within sport business, then check the list below.

    • Sponsorship (sales and/or activation)
    • Marketing
    • Broadcast
    • Communications
    • Licensing & Merchandising
    • Ticketing & Hospitality
    • Athlete Management
    • Event Management
    • Legal contracting
    • Finance
    • Creative Design
    • Research

    Lots to think about, right? Did you even get half of these before you read the list?

    Some of these are clearly generic to many industries e.g. Marketing, but they have a significant part to play in the business of sport. They are transferable too. If you have marketing experience in another sector then that has real value and you should use it to your advantage.

    Who do you want to work for?

    You would be amazed at how many people can’t answer this question, which is bizarre. Once you have an idea of the discipline that suits your skills and interest then make this your next question to answer. Companies and organisations in sport business can be split into 4 main categories;

    • Rights holders (governing bodies / teams)
    • Brands (sport brands / sponsor brands)
    • Agencies (hundreds of them! e.g. IMG, Fuse, Infront Sports & Media)
    • Media (TV, print, online)

    Each of the categories will have roles across many of the disciplines. This is how people are able to change jobs between a rights holder and brand, for example. Agencies work on behalf of their clients (brands and rights holders generally) so here there are the most available disciplines.

    So the action to take next is to produce a list of all the organisations that have roles in your chosen discipline and then rank them in order of who you would like to work for. You can then start to craft your application and look to see if they have any advertised roles. It’s important however to be proactive as well as reactive, don’t just rely on the jobs advertised. We’ll come back to this point.

    What experience do I have?

    Don’t be afraid to use any experience you have to your advantage and think about how it’s relevant to the role you really want.

    Any experience is transferable; it’s all about how you present it. Someone that has been successfully selling insurance can talk about their sales skills e.g. seeking out potential clients, listening to their needs, creating a proposal, presenting the proposal, negotiating a deal, closing the deal, renewing the deal.

    Don’t be afraid to use any experience you have to your advantage and think about how it’s relevant to the role you really want. If you don’t feel you have any or enough experience then go and get some. Volunteer somewhere that can add this to your CV (it doesn’t have to be sport, as identified) and show some initiative, employer’s love that.

    Where to look for roles?

    Once you have your list of desirable employers you should be a regular visitor to their website and, when ready with your application, be comfortable contacting them directly and engaging in conversation about opportunities. Chances are this won’t be the HR person, if they have one. It will be the senior staff employed in the area you want to work in. Find out who they are and make a connection. Being proactive in this way elevates you further and, if presented correctly, gets you noticed.

    Being reactive is obviously important too and therefore familiarity and regular checking of sport business jobs live in the market is essential. Global Sports is a very good place for this obviously and setting up a Job Alert will make sure you are notified when relevant new opportunities go live! 

    The letter

    The letter is by far the most important piece of material you will use to advertise yourself. It’s your shop window and can get you straight into the interview pile. As employers we always use the letter as the first proof point of someone’s desire and capability. 7 out of 10 won’t make it past this point so make it count! The secret is to always make it bespoke to the role and never, ever, generic. Be upbeat and positive and demonstrate your genius – without sounding like you should be President - be credible too. Answer why you want the role and why you are right for it.

    Think about your letter’s tone of voice, it needs to confident but not arrogant, smart but not clever and friendly but not overly familiar.

    Remember you are applying for a role in sport and the people who work there now love it like you do so make sure you know your stuff, and show it. This can be something up to date and relevant about the organization you are writing to so mention it in the letter. You could, if you are confident enough, include a top line idea you’ve had (this can sometimes be an extra page but only if it’s visual and interesting).

    It goes without saying there must be no grammatical or spelling mistakes and it should be around 250 words in length. The most common mistake here is to write way too much, don’t fall into the trap.

    The CV

    CVs can be incredibly boring to read, especially if the person reviewing has 100 to go through. Standing out, in the right way, is therefore key. Here are some thoughts;

    • Two pages maximum, you never need more than this
    • Short intro piece at the top about your character, strengths and interests. Don’t go over the top but be positive
    • Make your experience sound interesting and relevant to the role and most importantly focus on what you have achieved - don’t just re-write your job description
    • Listing every exam you’ve ever passed or every task you undertook at your last employer is boring and wastes space so be efficient and just include the headlines only
    • Presentation should be clear and easy to read. Use a font that looks up to date and professional. Ensure consistency e.g. margins aligned, headings all bold and in same size
    • And finally…no spelling mistakes!

    The main thing the person reviewing your CV is looking for is experience but ultimately how that is represented is more important. Put the most effort into this section and present a range of skills and achievements that are easy for an employer to skim read, not buried in waffle. As amazing as it sounds you have around 10 seconds to make an impression per first read. Yes you read it right, that’s TEN SECONDS. More tips on crafting the perfect CV can be found here.

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