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Your career is always moving forward, but it’s up to you where you go and how fast you get there. The truth is, professional growth doesn’t just fall into your lap; you need to earn it.

Step up your game and create opportunities for yourself. The sports jobs that are your dream choices now may change and leave you behind. Or your current dream job might get old and you’ll find yourself stuck, without any advancement opportunities.

To make the most out of your sports career and to stand out in this highly competitive market, you need to use these five awesome tools:

Professional Organizations

No matter where you are in your career, whether you’re actively looking for sports jobs or thriving in your current position, you can always benefit from joining a professional organization. These groups give you an opportunity to expand your network and build your professional connections.

You can also learn a lot as a member. Typically, professional organizations provide exclusive educational content, like quarterly publications and discounted rates for conferences.

Also, employers favor professionals who are members of these organizations. In fact, our survey found that 21 percent of employers who responded say that joining these organizations helps candidates stand out.

Find groups that are relevant to your field or career path. Let’s say you work in sales and you want to keep up-to-date on the best practices. Join the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP) to read content from sales thought leaders, earn online certifications, assess your selling style, connect with sales coaches, and directly connect with other members.

Also, look into sports-specific organizations, such as:

  • The North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)
  • The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA)
  • Sport Marketing Association (SMA)
  • College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)
  • Women Leaders in College Sports

Social Media

Another excellent way to expand your network is through making connections online. The two best social media platforms are Twitter and Linkedin. Here are some quick tips for each:

Twitter

  • Start following the best influencers in sports
  • Write an awesome bio highlighting your interests
  • Add a professional profile picture and header
  • Include a URL to your personal website or blog
  • Pin your best tweet to the top of your profile
  • Engage in Twitter chats with industry thought leaders or cool sports companies
  • Search for relevant hashtags to find new relevant people to connect with

Linkedin

  • Customize your public profile URL so people can find you with a Google search
  • Add a professional profile picture and background photo
  • Follow companies, groups, and influencers within the sports industry
  • Write an engaging profile summary that highlights your strengths and interests
  • Start conversations within your groups
  • Seek endorsements for your skills and recommendations from connections (and return the favor)
  • Add media to your profile if you created content that your connections would be interested in

Sports Apps

“Doing your homework” is watching sports and keeping up with news and updates in the sports world. How cool is that?

To make keeping up-to-date even easier, download some of these cool sports apps:

  • ESPN – the top sports app in the market delivers live video and updates
  • Bleacher Report – perfect for honing in on your favorite teams
  • StubHub – the best online service for buying and selling tickets to live sports
  • MLS – for the biggest soccer fans to follow the most popular sport in the world
  • NBA – a slam dunk for those who never want to miss a shot
  • NFL – keep up with all the football buzz so you feel like you’re right in the gridiron
  • MLB – never miss a pitch of America’s greatest pastime

MOOC Subscription

To find better sports jobs, you want to stay competitive. That doesn’t mean you have to sink yourself in more student loan debt and go back to college for a couple of years.

Instead, at a fraction of the cost, subscribe to massive open online course (MOOC) providers. You can select topics you want to learn about and expand your knowledge in less time and for a lot less money. Consider the following providers:

Mentors

As you’re networking, look for thought leaders and experts who are in the sports jobs you want in the future. Define your ideal career path, find those following it, and build a rapport with them. As you get to know one another, you can eventually determine if they’re the mentor you want.

There are several types of mentors you want to look for:

  • The coach – They help you solve difficult problems and suggest new perspectives on a problem you otherwise wouldn’t consider.
  • The star – These mentors have a lot of advice. Listen, but more importantly, watch how they build a career you want.
  • The connector – This kind of mentor knows a lot of people and can make introductions for you.
  • The teammate – They lend a sympathetic ear and validate you when you feel beaten down. They help talk you out of negative energy.
  • The librarian – Professional growth calls for resources, and this is the mentor who can point you in the right direction. They know your community better than anyone else.

How are you staying competitive to find sports jobs and advance your career? Share in the comments!

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