The sports industry is as competitive as ever in terms of career opportunities. Leshia Hawkins, Principal Consultant for Commercial Sport at Portfolio, a leading international search and selection consultancy, offers her advice.
Tip 1: Have realistic goals
Be aware that the marketplace for jobs in the sports industry is hugely competitive and adjust your ambitions accordingly.
"Employers in the sports industry, even in this economic climate, can generally afford to be selective," Hawkins says. "Push your limits, but do be aware of what they are and avoid applying for a far too senior role which could count against you and your 'brand' should you ever apply subsequently to that organisation."
Tip 2: Be relevant and consistent
It is far better to concentrate on putting together a single job application that will make a recruiter sit up and take notice, rather than sending out several that won't make an impact.
"Make one thoughtful, impactful application for a job you really want, rather than exercising a policy of quantity over quality," Hawkins says. "Common mistakes we see are candidates applying to an organisation for niche roles which require specific professional experience when they have none, or applying through a recruitment consultancy for a multitude of roles with irrelevant experience. This suggests a lack of focus, and at worst desperation."
Tip 3: Hone that CV
Ensure you avoid the classic mistakes of CV writing.
"A CV will stand out with well-written examples of your achievements and career progression," Hawkins says. "Separate your CV into sections of 'Responsibilities' and 'Achievements' for each position and make sure your achievements are tangible and measureable. Include a short but relevant personal profile and try and keep the whole CV to a maximum of two pages. Avoid fancy fonts and colours which are distracting and will only serve to suggest your CV has more style than substance. The last thing you want is to be getting noticed for the wrong reasons."
Tip 4: Sell yourself
Remember what sets you apart from the competition.
"Your CV could well be the first introduction to your profile that an interviewer or employer will have," Hawkins says. "Make sure you leave them in no doubt as to what you have done, what level you have been working at and how you have succeeded. In short, what sets you apart from a similar level candidate, performing a similar role, and therefore why you should be interviewed."
Tip 5: Exercise patience
If you aren't lucky enough for the right position to instantly fall into your lap remember there are plenty of others like you.
"With the shortage of jobs and a competitive market place of talented candidates in the sports industry, you need to be prepared that the right job for you might not come up overnight," Hawkins says. "Under and post-graduates often take up internships to build up experience and better position themselves for entry-level applications. And it is not unusual for more senior candidates to be 'on the market', however actively, for a year or two before landing the perfect move. The best things do often come to those who wait."
Top Tip: Consider a recruitment partner
Hawkins adds: "While some employers in sport will seek to hire some roles, especially more junior ones, directly, recruitment consultancies still have a significant part to play in the placement of middle to senior management level executives. Choose a credible and professional consultancy that ideally specialises in the level or types of role you are looking for. Speak to colleagues and contemporaries about who they may have received a helpful, courteous and professional service from and make sure you are comfortable with any 'action' plan suggested to you. You should, at the very least, feel that your candidature is valued, your experience is understood and your expectations are managed."