Sport’s a competitive industry to get into – but if anyone says building a career is down to who you know over what you know, they’re wrong. The key is being able to showcase your skills to the max.
Regardless of your age, sex or qualifications – if you have talent and are prepared to work hard, any skill you have IS transferable to a job in sport and will open doors when building your dream career.
Talk to many people about working in sport and you’ll often hear the classic phrase “to succeed in sport, you have to be in sport”, usually followed by “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
Sure, networking is important – and some relevant experience in sport can help – but both pieces of ‘wisdom’ are complete myths, and have unfortunately been repeated so often that many people with grand aspirations of working in sport nip it in the bud at an early stage.
At Sport Calling we bust those myths, and believe there are three areas that will help showcase your skills when building a career in sport: personality, experience, and achievements.
Sports organisations employ people, not machines. But demonstrating your positive character and nature is often the hardest thing to get right, particularly when interviews are really all about first impressions.
Showcasing your personality starts long before an interview – it needs to come across in letters, e-mails, CVs, phonecalls or chance meetings… in fact any method of approach you might make to a potential employer. Be bright, enthusiastic and likeable. I would never recommend trying too hard to re-invent yourself or be someone you’re not – you don’t need to be a performer putting on an act – just be the very best version of yourself. You on a great day!
Equally important is listening and being able to respond with well thought-out answers, your own questions and, importantly, your own thoughts. Thoughts and opinions are important because as long as they’re relevant and interesting they’ll help bring out your amazing personality. And if a potential employer likes you as a person, you’re already half way there.
This doesn’t mean direct experience in sport, though of course that can help; employers in sport are looking for real life skills and experiences. If you’ve worked in sales - and done well – what you’ve sold doesn’t really matter, as most sales skills are universal. As mentioned at the very beginning, skills are transferable into sport, and though it may sound strange to say, selling something like the title sponsorship for the FA Cup isn’t vastly different from selling a corporate insurance policy.
For a great example of this, look what happened at Manchester United. For over a decade United’s off-field commercial activities have been streaks ahead of those of its global competitors. One of the major factors in this success came from its people strategy.
When United’s Vodafone shirt sponsorship deal came to an end in 2006, the club took the decision that because mobile was such a fast-growing business category, it didn’t want to grant global rights to a single brand any longer. Instead, it sought regional mobile partners across multiple territories which, of course, brought in far greater revenues.
To secure all these deals United needed a bigger sales, research and creative team – but it didn’t recruit from other clubs, or even other sports. The policy was to recruit staff with experience working in mobile technology and/or experience of working in the countries being targeted. It still uses this policy today across all business categories.
But experience isn’t just about work, it’s about life too. What volunteer work have you done? What coaching courses have you taken? What sports do you, or have you played? If you want to work in sport, show your love for it by demonstrating how big a part it already plays in your life.
Having mapped out your work and life experiences, it’s vital you’re able to demonstrate tangible outcomes for each. Why did you do it? How did you influence the outcome? What were the results? What did you learn from it? By exhibiting these achievements, you’re giving potential employers complete personal stories with great results – and you’re at the heart of them.
Each narrative should follow the pattern below, delivered in a natural and flowing manner. Remember, it’s mainly about what YOU did, not your employer or the large team you worked in;
Think about how these success stories link to the role you are going for, and plant a seed in the employer’s head; let them make a connection without spelling it out.
Build a CV that has personality, experience and achievements down to its core. It’s a great starting point for building your dream career in sport and in doing so, you’ll create both a strong personal profile and a positive frame of mind for all those upcoming interviews!
Sport Calling is focused on supporting you through this process and help you to move forward in this unique period of time during the COVID-19 lockdown. For everyone that signs up for our Sport Calling ‘Break into Sport’ online course will also offer personal one-to-one support and guidance. We will be there to answer your questions, review your CV and give you all our insights on how to build a career in sport. We have also reduced the price by 50% to just £120.
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