Work in sports

April 2017 marked an ugly time in ESPN’s history, as the worldwide leader in sports laid off around 100 employees. This is a cruel reminder that no matter where you work in sports, the industry is incredibly competitive and is undergoing a lot of change.

So the question is — How do you stay relevant when you work in sports?

LinkedIn released research in October 2016 that explores the top 10 skills global employers value the most. Every skill listed is technological in some way. In other words, you need to brush up on your technology skills and keep informed on the latest changes if you want to stay competitive.

Let’s take a look at what technology skills you need to know as you grow and evolve while you work in sports:

The Basics

When you work in sports, there are several skills that are essential to your success. Among them are basic computer skills.

Chances are, you’re going to be using computers and mobile devices to engage in communication. It goes without saying that word processing should be a second nature to professionals.

You may also have to build tables and manage databases at some point, which is why spreadsheet knowledge is important. Learn Excel and other Microsoft Office skills through free online courses if you need to brush up on these basic skills.

The Rest

When you have the basics down, seek out how to learn more advanced technology skills. Just like anything you don’t have experience with, you should approach learning it with enthusiasm and curiosity.

Here’s some of the most valuable skills you can learn:

User Experience Design and User Interface Design

What They Are: User experience (UX) design is the process of designing products (both digital and physical) that are easy to use, simple, and pleasurable for consumers.

User interface (UI) design is the design of interfaces for machines and software to focus on maximizing usability and the user experience.

Why You Should Learn Them: These skills are great for adding a few more digits to your paycheck. In fact, Payscale’s 2016 report found that for those who work in sports, learning user experience design and user interface design can boost salary by just over six percent.

Jobs: Companies are building apps left and right. Your knowledge can land you designer positions for awesome employers, like Hudl. These skills will also be beneficial if you want to work in IT and other web designer and developer roles.

Data Visualization and Analytics

What They Are: Data visualization is the creation and study of visual representation of data, often in the form of graphics, plots, and tables.

Analytics is the ability to conceptualize and solve problems by making decisions based on data. With data presentation, you can organize it and easily communicate what it means for people.

Why You Should Learn Them: LinkedIn’s 2016 research found data presentation as the eighth top skill. Employers want people who can look at complex data reports, analyze and present the data in simple terms for decision makers, and make informed suggestions.

Jobs: Marketing teams use analytics to develop campaigns and strategize around what content resonates the most with their audiences. You can track conversions and identify what marketing strategies deliver the most ROI.

Big companies are also hiring more data scientists and specialists lately. For those who want to be the next Billy Beane, look into the field of sports analytics, which is growing rapidly. You can help make in-game decisions and manage professional sports teams.


What It Is: With cybersecurity skills, you can analyze and prevent attacks on networks, encryption, firewalls, and databases. Essentially, you play goalie for your organization’s most valuable asset — their data.

Why You Should Learn It: As LinkedIn’s 2016 research found, network and information security is the sixth top skill.

This is not surprising. The cost of data breaches is staggering. Employers pay large amounts of money to investigate the situation, fix the existing problem, and then they even have to recover from damage to their reputation.

For example, in September 2016, UK’s largest sports goods retailer, SportsDirect, was hit by one of the biggest breaches in recent history. The organization withheld this information from their staff for several months because the hacker accessed personal information from its 30,000 workers.

Jobs: Anything in IT. The more you know about protecting against data theft and debilitating hacks, the more valuable you are to employers.

Cloud Computing

What It Is: These skills usually center on a specific cloud provider, like Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon Web Services. They involve the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data.

Why You Should Learn It: Cloud and distributed computing is the most valuable skill to global employers, according to LinkedIn’s 2016 research.

Jobs: You can pursue IT and other more advanced jobs like cloud architecture, where you form these clouds to fit business needs.

If you want to consistently find work in sports, look ahead to how technology is changing the workforce. Identify what technology skills interest you most and add value to the career path you want.

What technology skills are you learning to find work in sports and to stay relevant?