work in sports

On October 21, 2017, the Houston Astros held the New York Yankees to just three hits in a 4-0 victory in a pivotal seventh game of the American League Championship Series. Just five days later, Joe Girardi’s 10-year tenure as the Yankees’ manager ended as his contract expired.

Now, without an obvious replacement in their current coaching staff, the Yankees are looking for their next skipper. This is a common situation for many who work in sports at this level — nobody within the organization set themselves up to lead.

No matter where you are in your career, you can set yourself up for succeeding when leadership makes changes. In fact, you can even start during your job search.

Here’s how to prove yourself as the next leader before you even get the job offer:

Write a Resume and Cover Letter Like a Boss

Your resume and cover letter make up your first impression with potential employers. When you can convey your leadership capabilities and skills like a boss, you’re sure to wow hiring professionals.

First of all, you need to be seen, but if you’re not optimizing your resume with keywords, you’re going to be lost in the black hole of the applicant tracking system. Hiring professionals use keywords and phrases to search for applications in their software. Make it easy for them to find you.

Let’s say you’re looking for sports sales jobs. This is one of the best areas to work in sports, but it’s also highly competitive. To make sure you’re found, use relevant phrases they use in the job posting.

Aside from your resume, you have one of the most underrated aspects of your application to consider — the cover letter. While many people debate the relevance of them, our survey found that a whopping 84 percent of employers say a cover letter is crucial for candidates to demonstrate their value.

Reflect on your past work experiences. At this point, you know you have unique skills and possess the X factors employers in sports are looking for. Now, you just need to communicate them effectively.

To show them your commitment to eventually becoming the next leader, share stories that illustrate your strong leadership skills. Perhaps you lead a team during a charity event while you volunteered or hosted a training session for new hires with a previous employer.

Share these stories in your cover letter. It’s one thing to tell them you have leadership skills. But it’s much more effective if you show them you can lead well.

Develop and Exude Confidence

Employers are looking for confident employees, and that confidence will help you climb the ranks. That does not mean you are impervious to mistakes or need to brag about your accomplishments.

Confidence also requires a level of humility. The most confident leaders are the ones who can admit to mistakes and learn from them. If you brag and refuse to take ownership of results of your actions, you aren’t confident — you’re insecure.

Develop confidence throughout your job search. Let’s say your resume and cover letter gained attention. You get an email from the employer. They want to schedule a phone interview.

Instead of panicking, first prepare. One of the best ways to feel confident is to actually feel prepared. If you go in blind, of course, you won’t feel secure in yourself. You will feel on guard and over your head.

The best job search strategy involves lots of research on potential employers. When you fully understand their mission, values, and culture, you can brainstorm and identify talking points about how you align with their culture and how you aim to grow into a leadership role with them.

Before the phone rings, take a moment to think about how you would prepare for an in-person interview. Would you arrive in your pajamas? Or would you dress up in that suit that makes you feel great?

The same goes for phone interviews. When you dress nicely, you feel good. When you feel good, you feel confident.

You can expect to face questions about your work ethic and how you approach your professional life. The best way to confidently answer these kinds of questions comes from, once again, preparation.

Before you start contacting employers and looking for work in sports, define your personal values. What drives you? How do you make decisions?

When you have a clear understanding of this, you can better articulate how you lead your personal and professional life. Also, you can find companies that align with your values, where you will thrive and grow.

Prove Your Awesome Communication Skills

Following Girardi’s dismissal, the Yankees organization said one of his biggest weaknesses was connecting with his team. If you want to work in sports as a leader, prove that you connect with others.

Building strong professional relationships comes from great communication skills. You already proved your great writing skills with your resume and cover letter.

When it comes to the interview, show off your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. During the interview, share stories of how you used active listening skills to help problem solve and lead teams. Showcase how you’re able to empower others and motivate your colleagues.

It’s especially helpful when you provide quantifiable results. For example, if you managed a call center that handled customer service, explain how you boosted productivity by 30 percent by encouraging employees to take regular breaks.

Highlight how customer satisfaction increased by 13 percent after you started a conflict resolution task force and delegated to employees to develop new training materials. Describe how using this new training in onboarding led to turnover reduction and improved employee satisfaction by 22 percent.

When you can show your leadership success in numbers, you will find work in sports in no time. Demonstrate your drive and enthusiasm to join a company and grow into leadership. This way, when your team is looking for a new manager, they won’t look to outside hires — they’ll look for you.

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