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Sports Careers - Career Advice



Resume, Interview and Networking Advice



Can Internships Lead to Full Time Positions?

Question: As an intern with a minor league hockey team I worked part time for the game operations and events department. Do you have any advice on how I can land a full time gig?

Answer: Four elements will be vital to your upcoming search: experience, geographic flexibility, networking and research.

You have already taken one of the most beneficial steps to land a full time position by working an internship. With your experience at a minor league level (where front office staffs are inherently small), you should have been exposed to many different career paths available in professional sports. You may have realized that game operations and events is exactly what you want to pursue in the future. If not, is there another department that suits your long term goals more appropriately? Deciding where you want to be in 5 years will help direct and focus your immediate search.

Do not be afraid to look at different geographic regions to take the next step in your career. If you browse through our featured articles, you will find that nearly every profiled executive has had to relocate to advance their career. Geographic flexibility will greatly aid you in your search for a full time position.

Now that you have an internship under your belt, you have made contacts in the industry that have become the beginning of your network. Building and maintaining a network of former colleagues, bosses, vendors, sponsors and friends in the industry is essential. Keep in contact with your old boss, provide him/her with an updated cover letter and resume and let them know you are actively searching.

Lastly, do your research. Jobs in this industry are rarely posted publicly. You need to put yourself in a position to hear about openings or they will pass you by. Take advantage of our job board; WorkInSports.com is a business that is dedicated to gathering these word-of-mouth positions and delivering them to you at the click of a mouse. Attend career fairs, read industry publications, visit/join industry associations and set up 'informational' interviews. Dedicate yourself to your job search.

Equipped with a sense of direction, the correct resources, patience and determination your efforts should reap opportunity.

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Common Questions Asked During an Interview

Preparation for an interview can mean the difference between making a good impression on the hiring authority and ruining your chances of continuing further through the hiring process.

Below are some common questions that are asked during a typical interview and some helpful hints that will allow you to answer them with confidence.

Tell me about yourself?
This is a basic question to learn a little about the candidate as well as break the ice. Keep your answers short and focused. Use your resume to guide you towards answers that are relevant to your professional experiences.

What do you know about our company?
Do your research before you get to the interview. The quickest way to find out information is by visiting the company website. If they do not have one, use a search engine to try and locate articles about the business. Pointing out something the company does that is unique or sets them apart from their competition will often score points with the interviewer.

What aspect of the job offered do you find the most and least appealing?
It is a good idea to list three to five qualities of the job that you find attractive. If there are less appealing qualities to the job, feel free to include one attribute with a reason why you feel this way.

What makes you a better hire than the other candidates we are interviewing?
Again, use your past professional experience and r elate to them what you can bring to the table. Show how you have solved problems or implemented new strategies in the past. This is also where you can draw upon your research of the company to give a response that is relevant to their business.

We hope that you will be able to look at the questions and answers above and take some time to review them BEFORE an interview. These are just a few of the questions frequently asked in an interview. Remember, preparing for an interview is just as crucial as the interview itself.

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Experience and Transition to the Sports Industry

Question: I have a lot of experience in sales and marketing but have never worked in sports. Is it possible to make a transition into the sports industry?

Answer: Sports teams and organizations are always looking for individuals with a talent to sell. These sales and marketing positions are responsible for what is commonly referred to as the blood line of a sports organization. A majority of the revenue generated in these departments go directly to paying the talent you see on game day.

In general, sales positions are the most commonly available jobs within any sports front office. Turnover rate is higher, due in part to the pressure and performance requirements that are associated with sales. Although sports experience is often preferred, a proven track record of meeting and exceeding sales goals in other industries is experience that front office sales departments covet.

Keep in mind that you may need to take a step back on the salary scale to break into this highly competitive industry. People looking to transition into the sports industry are more often looking to increase their job satisfaction and not their financial goals. It is important to add that there are some subtle differences to consider when working in this industry. These positions will normally require more than the standard 9-5 work day. The sports industry operates on weekends, holidays and nights. Most people in the industry will agree that 40 hour work weeks are few and far between. To work in sports is more than a career it's a demanding yet rewarding lifestyle that will allow you to face new and exciting challenges everyday.

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Functional vs. Chronological Resumes

Every week we receive questions about resumes and how to prepare them. A major consideration is whether to prepare a resume using a functional or chronological order when presenting past and current work experience. Although there is no right answer to this question, here are some things to consider:

If you are on a straightforward career path and your most recent job is the most relevant to the new position you are applying for, you should use a standard chronological resume. In this format, you will list your employment beginning with the most recent. Each employer should have a section and the job description should be summed up in a few precise sentences that envelop your experience. Your most recent job should be placed first as employers are most likely to read this experience before others.

If you are going back to something you used to do, changing careers, or have a scattered history, a functional resume will serve your experiences better. This resume will list your achievements first while dividing them into two to five categories. The next section will list past employment with relatively little discussion. In this style of resume you will commonly run two pages. Just remember to list the most relevant categories first as employers are likely to read them before others. In closing, we would like to mention the most common format that is used is the chronological resume because job seekers are most likely to be continuing there career path in the same field and the last job performed is usually the best showcase of their talents and abilities. p

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How Can College Students Build a Sports Network?

Question: Everyone is always talking about building a network to find a job. I am going to graduate in May and I want to know how I can start building my network within the sports industry. Any guidelines?

Answer: Networking is a very important part of the job search process and considerable time should be allocated to this course of action. Time and energy must be spent not just in applying for jobs but in meeting and greeting as many industry people as possible. Networking can include any of the following: personal meetings; keeping in touch with old colleagues, bosses and professors; volunteering on game-nights or large sporting events; attending functions and career events; and setting up informational interviews. Once an initial contact has been made, the key to building a lasting impression will rely on follow-up and maintenance.

There are many career events that WorkInSports.com is associated with that provide excellent networking opportunities. If you have a chance to attend ANY business related event within the sports industry you need to take advantage of the opportunity. You can find such events on our website under the Events Calendar as well as through our newsletter.

The art of networking is getting yourself in front of as many people as you can and letting them know you are looking for a job. Although the sports industry is spread out from coast to coast, it is relatively small and tight in terms of people. Tap into other peoples networks; don't be afraid to talk about your career goals to ALL your friends, family and acquaintances. You never know who might be able to provide you with a lead or a name to assist you in your job search.

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How Can I Break Into the Front Office?

The obvious and frequently stated fact is that internships (often unpaid) are a necessary bridge to full-time, entry-level employment with a team. This is an ideal avenue for students and recent graduates, but often eliminates job seekers that need to generate an income. A new trend in professional sports is emerging that is providing a solution for these people.

Enter the Part-Time Telesales Representative.

More and more teams have been implementing an in-house phone room, stocked with P/T ticket sellers, to bolster ticket sales and improve customer service in increasingly competitive markets. These are opportunities to gain a solid base of knowledge and experience in all aspects of ticketing, from learning ticketing systems and operations to suggestive selling and customer service techniques. Many teams find the phone room investment more than pays for itself by the increased control they have over delivering their message to customers rather than out-sourcing to a non-local call center.

While the job may not seem glamorous, it has become a key talent pool for Ticket Directors and Managers to hire from. Over the last year, everyone that has posted a P/T Sales position with us, including the Sonics, Nets, Mets, Coyotes, Diamondbacks, Devil Rays, Yankees and Wizards, have expressed that they often hire full-time Account Executives directly out of their phone room ranks. The old adage 'the cream always rises to the top' can be used here. Every year, a team will retain its top sellers by promoting them into a full-time capacity and expanding the employee's role. While this position is not for everyone, this is one other way to break into the highly competitive sports industry.

Over the last few years, WorkInSports.com has become a primary source for Ticketing Departments to introduce and staff their phone rooms. We have posted P/T ticket sales positions for over 20 teams in the four major leagues. Look for more and more teams to foll ow this trend in the future.

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I Have an Interview, Now What?

Your recent hard work and persistence has finally paid off. You have landed some interviews from the opportunities you have come across at WorkInSports.com. Now it is time for the next step, to ace the interview.

There are a few things that can come from an interview. It can be highly uplifting and promising or it can be a nervous and dreaded experience. Just remember, if you approach it with a positive attitude your next interview could be the first day of your next job.

With the job market being so competitive, every interview counts. Organizations are looking for individuals who show experience, understand the industry, work hard and have the passion necessary to work in the sports industry.

Whether it's an informational interview or a third interview with a hiring authority, every interaction is as important as the next. The more information and contacts you can gather the larger your personal network will grow. With continued persistence and a positive attitude when planning for your next interview, the chances for success will increase and set you apart from other candidates.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to show you are the best person for the job. Once you land your next interview it is up to you to show them their choice is obvious.

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Is My Resume Too Lengthy?

Question: This question came form a job seeker who attended the L.A. Kings Sports and Entertainment Career Fair and asked a WorkInSports.com representative the following, "My resume is amazing. Why am I having such a hard time getting an interview?"

Answer: Upon initial inspection there were definitely some great accomplishments and work experience that would deem her a qualified candidate. However, her resume was four pages long and much of the information was lost due to the length.

It is im portant to remember that a job seeker must use the resume to catch the eye of the hiring authority in hopes to first obtain an interview. One should attempt to construct a resume to be clear and concise. This can be done by using bullet points and short sentences as opposed to long paragraphs. Resumes are read quickly and using a concise format will allow for someone to quickly scan it and highlight important information without getting lost. Use industry buzzwords to illustrate your knowledge and experience within the industry.

The overall point of your resume is to highlight your accomplishments and generate enough interest to warrant an interview, not itemize everything you have ever done. Once you have an interview you will be able to go into further detail about yourself. Use your resume as a marketing and advertising piece that will create the desire for an employer to find out more about the product, you.

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Questions to Ask the Interviewer

We have all been in the same situation. We sit through thirty minutes answering what seems to be the hardest questions with answers that we can’t remember five minutes after the interview is complete. After the interviewer is through grilling you, they inevitably ask if you have any questions about the position or organization. At that point you are just happy to have answered all the questions and have no capacity to ask any questions yourself. When you get home, your friend asks you about the job and what the company does and you realize you don’t know because you didn’t ask any questions.

Here are some questions that you could ask when you have the opportunity.

- What are the main duties, goals and objectives for the position you are interviewing for?
- What common roadblocks have been encountered with this position in the past?
- How many people perform the same position or similar positions and what is the main line of support or chain of command?
- As this position’s objectives are achieved will there be any room for advancement?
- Does your organization commonly promote from within?

The questions will help you decide whether or not the position and organization is what you are looking for. It may also give you a competitive advantage because you were able to compose yourself and do what many job seekers are not by asking a few simple questions.

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Targeting Your Job Search

One of the most important aspects of searching for a job is to pinpoint a specific field of search. It is fairly obvious that WorkInSports.com is a site that caters to those who have chosen to explore options within the sports industry. However, the sports industry in and of its self offers a wide range of career opportunities. The statement “I love sports and will do anything to work for a sports team” is a statement that is highly ineffective and sorely overused in our industry. Does that mean you will take a job as a controller for a sports team if you have no idea what a debit or credit is? It is important to be more specific and identify what types of positions you are qualified for and would enjoy.

Know your skills, education, and experience and be cognitive of what you are good at. What types of positions could you see yourself in and what positions do not match your skills and abilities? Keeping an open mind to different types of organizations in the industry is good, but narrowing down what you are looking for will add a great deal of proficiency to your search.

If you are a member of Works In Sports or have visited the site you will have noticed that we have six specific job categories based on job types, descriptions and duties. We list jobs according to these categories as opposed to listing them based on what type of organization you will be working for. This facilitates our jobs seekers by providing a quick and easy way to search for positions that are specific to their qualifications and needs. Abandon the thought process of ‘doing anything in the sports industry’ and instead structure your search by setting realistic, targeted parameters.

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Using a Cover Letter to Your Advantage

On a weekly basis we have many questions about how and when to use a cover letter. Here are some important points to remember when creating and using a cover letter.

As a rule of thumb, it is always a good idea to include a cover letter with all responses as it will help an employer identify key points about you. Your cover letter should be used to get the attention of the hiring authority in efforts to create further correspondence. It is important to remember that the cover letter is a tool used by employers to see how well you fit the role of an available position.

At the top of the cover letter include your name, address, phone, fax and e-mail address. This is important just in case your cover letter and resume become separated. Make sure to double check the spelling on this information several times. It would be unfortunate to be overlooked just because you provided improper means for correspondence. Believe it or not, the most misspelled word on a resume is the applicant’s name. Having a friend look at the finished product is another great way to be sure that your cover letter is mistake free.

The first few sentences of a cover letter are the most important, so make them count. The reader will look for facts and information their eyes will grab with ease. Be precise and to the point, as letters longer than one page may not be read through their entirety.

Within the first paragraph remember to include the specific job title you are referencing and how you learned about the job opening, whether it was through a classified ad, a friend, a current employee or online posting. It is also important to include how you can be an asset to the company and why you are interested in the position. A specific statement and reason why you are the right person for the position is a way to grab the readers attention and further clarify your enthusiasm.

In closing, let the hiring authority know that you will follow up with them soon to confirm receipt of your correspondence. This will give you another opportunity to show your initiative and increase your chances of continuing further steps towards gaining a position.

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Waiting to Hear Back

You just stepped out of the interview and you believe things went pretty well. How long can you expect to wait to hear back from the employer? In most cases a lapse of anywhere from one to three weeks is common. It is important to remember to get an idea from the hiring authority of when you will hear back from them before you leave the interview. After the interview, if that time passes, a polite follow up is advisable to ask whether a decision has been made or not.

A common problem for job seekers is waiting to hear back for the more attractive position or having several offers to choose from at the same time. It is acceptable to ask for time to consider an offer that is given. Of course the time frame must be within reason. Most hiring authorities would agree that they would rather give the candidate more time to make the right decision than have them quit in their first week because they acted in haste.

There is always pressure for a job seeker to accept the first job offer they are presented with. Review all your options and evaluate whether or not you can continue your search at the given pace or if you must accept the first offer. Only you can decide whether or not a position is the one for you, but it would be beneficial to talk to friends, family and peers to see what helpful advice they might have. Remember, accepting a job offer is an important decision which should be carefully considered.

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What About My References?

A common question that we deal with rather frequently concerns references and how to use them with the resume. There are a few things to remember when dealing with references.

The first thing to remember is that there are two types of references, the business reference and the character/personal reference. Both types of references can be used in conjunction to provide a hiring authority a valuable tool.

The Business reference is the one that a hiring authority is most likely to contact. Some suggestions for this type of reference include: former employers such as supervisors or direct reports, peers, those who worked under you, vendors that you may have worked with outside the office and other business contacts.

A Character or Personal reference is thought to be secondary but can give you an advantage if called upon. When deciding on this type of reference consider those who have had recent dealings with you and understand both your work and personal life, past accomplishments, current involvement, and future goals.

It is important to do some logical brainstorming when deciding on individuals you will use as references. When compiling your list of references select those who are knowledgeable of your performance, accomplishments and what you want to do in the future. You should always make sure you have approval to use a reference. I have heard many stories concerning a reference called upon to vouch for a job seeker and in their honesty delivered a bad account of the job seeker.

Last but not least, "should I put my references on the actual resume?" The simple suggestion that we give is NOT to supply your list of references on the resume. You should have a reference list available on a separate sheet of paper just in case you are asked for them or are required to submit them.

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What is an Informational Interview?

An informational interview is exactly what it sounds like, an interview with a professional from a desired industry in efforts to gather information. In most cases the best source for current information is an executive that already works in the field. This process is a great networking approach which allows the job seeker to gather career information, get advice on search techniques, learn about a specific organization, meet key professionals and gain possible referrals.

Part of the informational interview is a tool to find job opportunities or to determine whether a field is right for the job seeker. The key is to be genuinely interested in the interview while learning what opportunities may exist at that given company or through the referral process. The job seeker must remember never to overstep the bounds of the interview by asking for a job. If the interview is conducted in a professional manner there is a good chance that a lead may come from the interview.

In order to set up an informational interview the job seeker will need to be resourceful. Do some research on organizations that fit your needs and interests. Narrow down the departments that you would like to learn more about. From there it will require some correspondence via mail, e-mail and even some cold calling to locate someone who would be interested in offering 15 to 20 minutes of their day. Remember to clearly indicate the purpose of the interview is to gather information and that there is NO job expectation.

During the interview make sure to use the time wisely by taking notes and having some quality questions that will promote informative answers. Some good questions may include: “describe a typical work day” or “what would you recommend for a job seeker trying to get into your industry” or “how would you rate your job satisfaction in this industry?”

The last thing to remember is to send a thank you letter to everyone that spent some time talking with you. If they requested a resume, this can be sent at this time as well.

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What is the Best Way to Send a Resume Via e-mail?

As the trend from Employers begins to lean more and more towards accepting resumes via e-mail there are a few things to consider if you want your resume to be noted for further consideration. Positions requiring responses via e-mail will sometimes attract a higher number of applicants, so it is important to make sure your e-mail is noticeable.

1) We have said this many times before, but it never seems to amaze us the e-mails we receive from e-mail addresses that are unprofessional. Do not use an e-mail address that has negative connotation associated with it such as slacker@lazy.com. If you need to create a new e-mail address that you can use for your job search do it now! Try hotmail.com or yahoo.com to set up a free e-mail account.

2) Make sure you set your e-mail account “from” name to include your name as clear as possible. Many times employers will receive an e-mail from a name such as “refresh155xl”. We can assure you that these e-mails will sometimes be deemed as junk mail and discarded. Your name in the from section will allow employers to easily reference your e-mail.

3) Remember to always make reference to the job position or job # if available in the subject section.

4) When creating a resume, save the files to reflect your name. For example, john_smith.doc is a good name for a resume. It is very hard to handle hundreds of resumes that all have the same name such as resume.doc. Again, you want the employer to be able to reference and identify your correspondence quickly and easily.

5) Write a short cover letter and include a text version of your resume in the actual body of the e-mail. This makes it very easy for the employer to take a look at your resume as soon as it comes in as new mail. In addition, attach a properly named word document (see #4 above) so the exact format of your resume can be forwarded throughout the organization without loosing its structure and layout.

6) If you are sending links within your correspondence remember to make sure they are active. Sending a dead link does not increase your chances of being considered for a position.

It is important to remember, no matter how you are submitting your resume, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Make it count!

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What Should I Research Before an Interview?

Question: When a hiring authority asks me to tell them what I know about their company, how should I respond?

Answer: The first rule in answering this question is NEVER go into an interview without researching and finding out what the company provides to its industry. Take sufficient time to identify and understand how customers, partners, employees, suppliers, and distributors contribute to the overall delivery of the products and services of the company.

Research the company via websites, business journals, and periodicals. Inquire within your personal network to see what they might know about the specific company. If you find information on a recent initiative the company is working on, don't be afraid to display your knowledge on the subject during your interview. Try to comment on something that the company does well or innovative. This will show you have been doing your homework. Most hiring managers will not expect you to know all the intricacies of the company, but the more you know about that organization the more distance you can put between yourself and other candidates.

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Why Should I Network?

The art of networking is the process of getting out and meeting people both in a formal and informal manner. Use every opportunity you have to meet people face-to-face. This will allow you to create contacts that may be hiring in the future or allow them to refer you to other potential employers.

You should account for a considerable amount of time to allow for this process. Spending 30-40 percent of an actual job search on the process of networking is a good guideline. This will include personal meetings, attending functions, phone calls, e-mails and follow ups. Networking will help you find more job positions that you may not hear about through normal channels. The larger the network you create the greater the chances of you finding available positions.

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