In 1993, after becoming the first player in NBA history to win three straight Finals MVP awards, Michael Jordan announced his retirement from basketball. In February 1994, he signed a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. After playing in the minor league system for a while, in March 1995, Jordan released a short press release: ‘I’m back.’
The rest is history.
No matter where you start your work in sports, you might make career changes. Eventually, you may even find yourself in Jordan’s shoes — bringing yourself back to where you started.
Let’s say you first started work in sports as a writer. At the time, you struggled to find stable, full-time employment and felt stuck without many growth opportunities. Then, you shifted your career path to sports management. After a few years pass, you decide you want to go back to your passion — sports writing.
Bringing your sports career full circle and starting over on your first path can be intimidating. Expectations change. Competition intensifies. Professions evolve. However, this doesn’t mean you should just stay put.
Here’s what you need to know to bring your sports career full circle:
Look At Your Qualifications
First, look at what you’re qualified for when you plan your return to your first sports career path. Your professional life is constantly evolving and you’re always growing.
Review your past experiences and look at the skills and qualifications you have developed. This doesn’t have to be strictly your previous work in sports. You gain skills in numerous areas of your life, like when you volunteer or start hobbies, such as managing a softball team.
As you reflect back on your experiences in the same line of work, find projects and assignments you’re proud of. For example, before applying to sports writing jobs again, locate your best writing samples from the beginning of your career and build your portfolio. Create some new content you can share on social media and add to your portfolio as well, though, to show you still have what it takes.
Also, connect with former colleagues and employers. Reflect on good memories and build a positive rapport with them. They could play a big role in your return.
Research What You Need
This is one of the most daunting (and rewarding) aspects of planning your career return — conducting research. However, it’s vital to make your transition simple and quick.
If you stepped away from sports writing for a considerable amount of time, start researching the field again. Identify what employers are looking for in copywriting and content creation roles. For example, many prefer to see experience in WordPress, design, and HTML experience.
Don’t just read a few postings. You need a structured approach to this. Here’s a simple process to follow:
- Write a list of potential roles you want to purse
- Sign into a sports job board and use your keywords to search
- Read job descriptions and compile a list of required and preferred skills and qualifications
At the end of your research project, you should have a better idea of what your original sports career looks like today.
Fill In the Gaps
By now, you have a couple of lists — your current set of skills, qualifications, and experience and a list of potential roles with requirements and preferences. Look for the gaps between what you offer and what these roles need. Consider specific skills, levels of education, years of experience, and certifications.
Then, create an action plan. You have a clear goal: fill the gaps. Explore ways to build your skill set and earn whatever requirements are needed in your career.
For example, as you return to sports writing, you realize that you need to cut your teeth on SEO and WordPress. Determine a course of action that allows you to gain experience with this, like taking online courses on web content creation or starting a sports blog.
Finding work in sports can be tough because the industry is highly competitive. And if you’re starting your career over in a field you used to work in; you’re going up against fresh new graduates, who employers might give preference to.
However, there are several ways you can stand out from the crowd. According to our 2017 survey, many employers prefer candidates who are actively engaged in the industry. For example, those who join professional organizations and share industry content on social media are more likely to catch an employer’s interest than those who don’t.
Additionally, a referral goes a long way — 60 percent of employers say they give referred candidates more attention and consideration than other candidates.
Remember those former colleagues you reached out to? Continually engage with them and try to earn a referral. Focus on building your network, attending sports industry events, and engaging with sports conversations through social media, like sports industry groups on Linkedin.
You’re like Jordan, lacing up his shoes and getting back onto the court after years of retirement. The butterflies will be there. You’re going to feel doubts and fear. But if you follow these steps to bringing your sports career full circle, you’re going to be ready to take the shot.
What work in sports are you interested in returning to? Share in the comments below!