In the competitive search for sports jobs, the chance of landing an offer after applying to one job is not very likely. But instead of sending out hundreds of applications, it’s better to hone in on the jobs and organizations that mean the most to you.

Once you have identified the most fitting opportunities, you’ll want to tweak your resume and write a unique cover letter for each application. However, your efforts shouldn’t end when you click “submit.” Just as a salesperson should “always be selling,” you should always be job searching – and that means going the extra mile in your search.

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Here’s how you can go the extra mile during your search for sports jobs:

Make Connections

If you haven’t already, join organizations for professionals in sports jobs so you can expand your network, but make sure you know how to make the most out of your networking opportunities. After all, your network won’t just grow on its own.

According to a September 2015 survey conducted by the University of Phoenix School of Business, 15 percent of working adults surveyed say they don’t have enough experience to make networking worthwhile. Don’t fall victim to missing out on a great opportunity. This is where preparation comes in.

Target a few people you really want to meet. Then before a networking event, create a consistent elevator pitch that sums up who you are and how you want to add value to the sports industry. Don’t recite a memorized script — be authentic while you engage.

Always follow up by connecting on Linkedin, then schedule a lunch meeting or arrange to grab coffee. Professional connections could not only offer some insights on the sports jobs you want, but also refer you to employers looking for talent.

Ask for References

Don’t shy away from asking for references. Look back at your work experience and reach out to managers and colleagues with whom you worked well. When you contact them, refresh their memory about a specific time you collaborated together and explain how you want to meet.

In the end, you can ask for a written professional reference. These come in handy when employers ask for them because it adds validity to your positive reputation.

Let’s say you’re nearing the end of your sports marketing internship. Before you leave, tell your supervisor how much you’re learning, how grateful you are, and ask for their feedback.

When you get a conversation going, you can learn about your strengths and where you need to improve. This may lead to a job offer, but at the very least, you could ask for permission to refer potential employers to contact them.

Contact a Hiring Manager

Once you hit the apply button, you may want to just get back to the job board and start searching for the next opportunity. While it’s good not to limit yourself, you need to get the most value out of every application you send, and that means following up.

CareerBuilder’s July 2016 survey found that 37 percent of job seekers don’t follow up with an employer after they have applied. That’s a lot of applications floating around, lost in the ATS black hole.

Your best bet is to contact a hiring manager directly. Research the company and find some contacts from their hiring team. It’s ideal to send an email with your resume and cover letter, then follow up with a phone call to their office. Leave a voicemail and explain how excited you are to speak with them in person about how you can add value to the company.

Don’t get lost in their ATS. This is also where your professional network can help. Try to find a connection to an insider in the company so you can get the hiring manager’s contact information. At the very least, if you can’t get their contact info, mail your resume and cover letter to the office.

Show Gratitude

No matter where you are in the recruiting process — whether you left a voicemail with the hiring manager or landed an interview — always express how much you appreciate their time and consideration. This is Etiquette 101.

Unfortunately, most candidates squander a big opportunity. The CareerBuilder survey from July 2016 found that 57 percent of job seekers don’t send thank-you notes after an interview.

The moment you leave the office after an interview, prepare how you want to show your gratitude. At the very least, mail a thank-you card to the interviewer and anybody else involved in getting you in the office, like your personal contact or the administrative assistant that set up the interview. This small gesture makes a big impact.

These tips are sure to land you an offer. But don’t forget the next step — take action!

How are you going the extra mile in your search for sports jobs?

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