Strategies for
Career Success
Chapter 21
• What is your dream job in sport management?
– General Manager of the Miami Heat?
– Director of Stadium Operations at Yankee Stadium?
– Athletic Director at the University of Oregon?
– Marketing Director for the U.S. Olympic Committee?
– Director of Social Media for the NFL?
• How can you break into the sport industry?
– A love of sport is simply not enough to land a job in
• How do you begin to climb the sport industry ladder?
• How do you market your most valuable resource—you?
Myths of Sport Careers: Myth 1
• Sport management degree is a ticket to success.
– Increased number of sport management programs
offered, resulting in increased number of people
with similar background looking for similar jobs
– New Orleans Hornets community relations
position with an annual salary of $25,000
generated 1000 applications in 1 week.
• There are advantages to a sport management degree
program, however; internship opportunities, ability
to build a network, and gaining practical experience
applying sport-related theories and principles is
arguably more valuable.
Myths of Sports Careers: Myth 2
• It’s not who you know, it’s what you know.
– Actually, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows
– In the sport industry, people hire someone
because of a personal recommendation from
someone else.
• Sport managers must expand networks to include all
kinds of people.
• It is important to tap into as many useful networks
as possible so that you can broaden your contacts
and industry knowledge.
Myths of Sports Careers: Myth 3
• Most opportunities are in pro sports or NCAA
Division I athletic departments.
– Number of jobs in professional sport is limited,
and people who get jobs in professional sport tend
to stay in their jobs. Also, people already in the
industry tend to get “recycled” when positions
open up.
– Colleges and universities are currently dealing
with economic setbacks that affect the amount of
money spent on athletic programs, thus reducing
new hiring.
– Extend search into goods and apparel, recreational
sport, and the health and fitness area.
Myths of Sports Careers: Myth 4
• Sport management jobs are glamorous and exciting.
– Sport managers labor in the background so that
others can enjoy the spotlight.
– A sport manager very seldom, if ever, gets to see
any of the action of the game or event itself.
– Typical workweek for event coordinator is 60 to
70 hours per week, including frequent late nights
and weekends.
– Work of sport managers is similar to jobs in the
corporate world, but they are unique in that they
require industry-specific knowledge.
Myths of Sports Careers: Myth 5
• Sport management jobs pay well.
– In general, salaries, especially starting salaries,
tend to be low in the sport industry.
– There are so many applicants that employers can
set salaries low.
– Demand for the jobs far outweighs the supply.
– Be prepared for salaries around $35,000, although
some jobs will pay even less (Belson, 2012).
Finding a Job
• Know yourself
– Find a job utilizing your strengths, challenging
you where you want to be challenged, and
minimizing your frustrations.
• Career exploration
– Select aspects of the sport industry that are most
interesting to you and begin research. Once you
can speak intelligently regarding the field of
interest, begin informational interviewing.
Finding a Job (cont.)
• Gain experience
– Increased experience = Increased marketability.
Take advantage of internship opportunities
available and gain experience in the industry.
Create your own volunteer opportunities.
• Job search strategy
– Finding a job requires time, energy, and
thoughtful preparation. Decide to make a certain
number of phone calls, mail or email a certain
number of applications, and/or research particular
organizations each week. Keep a journal of your
activities. Attend career fairs.
Informational Interviewing
• Expands your understanding of an industry, an
organization, or a particular job or department by
speaking to someone who is already there.
• Serves as a foundation for your career while
building a strong network base.
• Have your questions prepared before you call in the
event the person you are trying to reach is available
• Ask for suggestions on who else to contact in the
industry of interest; consider alumni in the industry.
• Consult with Career Services center.
Informational Interviewing (cont.)
• Some question suggestions to consider:
– Please briefly describe what you do.
– What tasks take most of your time?
– How would you describe your working conditions,
including hours, pressure, pace, and so on?
– How does your position relate to the rest of the
– What particular character and personality traits would
you suggest one needs to be successful in your position
in this industry?
– What experiences, education, and other training would
prepare me to enter this field?
Informational Interviewing (cont.)
• Additional hints about the process:
– Conduct your interview at the interviewee’s place of
– Dress appropriately: Wear business attire.
– Be professional and articulate in your presentation.
– Observe the setting, the overall culture of the organization,
and the relationships among the employees.
– Bring copies of your resume and business cards.
– While there, ask yourself if you would be comfortable
working in this environment.
– Get business cards from each person you meet.
– Send a personally written thank-you note immediately
Other Sources of Information
• Professional journals, relevant books, publications,
Web sites
• Most industry segments have an association that
provides support for the profession. Association
Web sites provide valuable connections, current
relevant information, and sometimes job postings.
Marketing Yourself: Resumes
• Present yourself as a colleague, not “just” a student.
• Acknowledge your accomplishments in activities,
internships, and jobs.
• Use industry language.
• Present experience as lens toward career goal.
• Convey your learning as well as your duties.
• Be prepared with “talking points” demonstrating the
valuable personal attributes you bring to the workplace.
• Quantify whenever appropriate.
• Assemble a portfolio.
Marketing Yourself: Resumes (cont.)
• Heading
– Provide a phone number where you will get
messages if you are not home and a professional
email address you regularly check, and that your
social media presents an image you want
employers to see
• Objective
– Used to focus your resume
• Education
– Include all colleges attended, GPA if greater than
3.00, honors and awards, international/national
exchange experience
Marketing Yourself: Resumes (cont.)
• Experience
– Think of your accomplishments (what you brought to the
organization, and positive changes resulting from your
• Accomplishments
– Include major accomplishments demonstrating the
qualities an employer looks for in a potential employee
• Skills
– List all appropriate and/or relevant skills.
• Activities
– School, the local area, or region
– Athletics, student government, band member
Final Resume Tips
Organize information logically.
Use a simple, easy-to-read font.
Tailor the information to the job you are seeking.
Pay attention to spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Making even one spelling error means the employer
may not consider you any further.
• Have several people proofread your document.
• Consult the professionals in your campus career
• Keep resume to one page through effective
Marketing Yourself: Elevator Speech
• An impromptu, informal 30-second to 1-minute conversation
with an influential person in the field
• Sometimes referred to as “elevator pitch”:
1. Clarify your job target.
2. Put it on paper.
3. Format it.
4. Tailor the pitch to them, not you.
5. Eliminate industry jargon.
6. Read your pitch out loud.
7. Practice, practice, practice (then solicit feedback).
8. Prepare a few variations.
9. Nail it with confidence.
Marketing Yourself: Cover Letter
• Each resume must be accompanied by a cover letter.
• Use the cover letter to enhance the resume, not
restate it.
• Each letter should address the specific concerns of
the organization to which you are applying.
• Thoroughly research each organization and, after
careful analysis, write a letter that demonstrates your
value to the prospective employer.
• Adapt your letter for each situation and always be
able to offer specific examples to confirm the main
points of your experiences.
Marketing Yourself: Cover Letter (cont.)
• Structure your letters of application with three or four
– Why are you writing? How did you learn of the position?
Why is it of interest to you? Demonstrate your knowledge of
the organization. By including a reference to the company,
you form a positive connection from the start.
– Discuss your strongest qualifications that match the position
as you understand it. Provide concrete evidence of your
experience as it relates to the job posting.
– Reinforce qualifications presented in your resume, but do not
repeat them exactly. Show your strong writing skills.
– Request an interview. Mention that you will call within a
specific period of time to discuss an appointment, and follow
up accordingly.
Marketing Yourself: Interview
• Preparation
– The more time you spend in preparation, the more
comfortable you will be in the interview;
consequently, the greater your opportunity for a
successful interaction.
– Take time to assess yourself. Evaluate your
strengths and weaknesses. Evaluate the person
you are, not the person you would like to be.
– Know the organization. Conduct necessary
Marketing Yourself: Interview (cont.)
• The Interview
– Interviewers are looking not just for particular
skills, but also for personal attributes of a
successful professional.
– Interviews are limited in time; therefore, it is
important to begin appropriately.
– Become familiar with behavioral-type
interviewing questions.
– Best predictor of future performance is past
performance in a similar situation.
Marketing Yourself: Interview (cont.)
– Dress appropriately. Appropriate attire for an
interview is a suit. The sport industry may seem
like a casual industry, but it is a business.
– Be early—it is better to be 10 minutes early than
1 minute late!
– Shake hands firmly and smile, making eye contact
with the person.
– Engage in conversation, but do not talk
incessantly (which sometimes happens if you are
– Be friendly, warm, and interested.
Marketing Yourself: Interview (cont.)
• Follow-up
– Assess the interview.
– Write a thank-you note.
– Call the interviewer if
you have something to
– Call the organization if it
hasn’t gotten back to you
in the designated time.
What Makes a Successful Candidate?
• A successful candidate exhibits certain traits and skills. Some of
these include the following:
– Preparation: Knowledge-interest in the employer and the
– Personal or soft skills: Confidence, adaptability, flexibility,
maturity, energy, drive, enthusiasm, initiative, and empathy
– Goal orientation: Ability to set short- and long-term goals
– Communication skills: Written and oral, including listening
and nonverbal communication skills
– Organizational skills: Teamwork, leadership, problem
identification and solving, and time management
What Makes a Successful Candidate? (cont.)
– Experience: Ability to articulate the relevance of previous
experience to the position for which you are interviewing
– Professional appearance: Business suits for men and women
alike. Remember, some people have allergic reactions to
perfumes and colognes, so it is best not to use them prior to
your interview. Tattoos? Have them visible at your own risk.
They may not matter to some people, but they will to others.
– Cross-cultural awareness: Multiple languages, international or
intercultural experience
– Computer skills: Web site development, statistical packages,
word processing, spreadsheets, and desktop publishing
• Finding a job in the sport industry is challenging,
but the results can be rewarding.
• Incorporating the information and techniques
included in this chapter, such as networking,
informational interviewing, resume and cover letter
writing, and interviewing skills, will help increase a
student’s understanding and marketability in the
sport industry.

Principles & Practice of Sport Management