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How To Include Your Sports Experience On Your Resume

All your resume is, is your personal introduction to any employer. It is often times the first glimpse of you a company or hiring manager will get.

We’ve all heard the old saying “First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions,” so it’s very much worth your time to spend the effort and energy to make it stand out when applying for jobs. Throughout the internet, there are many resources that can help you build a powerful resume. You can find formats, verbiage, and samples to guide you. While it is important to take advantage of them, you might think it's hard to find one suited specifically for athletes. (Hint: All of that and more is right here - and just for athletes.)

A format that is commonly used with student-athletes who are just entering the workforce is what is called a behavioral resume. A behavioral resume focuses more on the character, traits, and accomplishments of the individual than the work history since most athletes don't have extensive work experience. This works great for transitioning students with lots of talent and potential, but little experience.

Remember, most companies looking for entry-level talent are generally more interested in what’s in your head and your heart than your experience. They love student-athletes because they believe that all the dedication, determination, focus and goal orientation and other traits developed through your sport will translate into a being a peak performing employee. Use this to your advantage.

Below is a good example of what well-written behavioral resume should include:

1. Name: Big, Bold, Centered
2. Personal Information: Phone, E-Mail Address
3. Career Objective: Customized to the job you want; focused on how you can help employer

Example: A sales opportunity with a world class organization that will allow me to use the knowledge and character I’ve developed through my academic and athletic career to help reach company goals.

4. Education: Dates & Degrees
5. Personal characteristics or behavioral qualifications
6. Awards or Achievements: (think Brag Book, Achievements, Awards) athletic, academic, service
7. Work History: Accurate Dates, Company Name, Phone, Reference, Accomplishments
8. References: Names, Phone Numbers, Testimonial Letters (from coaches, professors, advisors) These are very impressive and important.


The Transition & The Importance Of A Resume

Although many student-athletes grow up lacing their Air Jordans and dreaming of going pro, the reality is that very few go on to be professional athletes. If they do, in most sports it probably isn't going to be for that long. In fact, according to the NCAA, only 1 percent of college athletes go on to play professionally—the rest enter the corporate world, just a wide majority of the world. The reality is that you have to start preparing one way or another.

1% of college athletes go on to play professionally—the rest enter the corporate world

But just because you’ve traded the locker room for the boardroom doesn’t mean you should put your glory days behind you altogether. A lot of the thrills and experience you had as an athlete can be replicated in the business world in many ways.

Your resume is your way to take your game to that next level. It is just validation of your experience and skill-set similar to having a highlight film in your sport. Having a well thought out and put together resume can get you into the door of your dream job and get you off on the right foot when transitioning into your next career. 


Where Do Sports Belong On A Resume?

College athletes should always list relevant work experience and internships first on their resumes. The best place to list sports involvement is in a subsequent “activities” section. However, because of their full-time commitment to sports, most student-athletes may not have had the time to complete internships or take on a summer job. 

If this is the case, student-athletes should list their sports first in the “experience” section. Many times the schedule of a student-athlete is as time-consuming as a full-time job. It often adds up to more than a 40-hour work week commitment.

All in all, student-athletes should try their best to include their athletic experience in their resume that best exemplifies why it will help them perform the job at a high level to the employer. 


How Should Sports Be Played On A Resume?

When creating the bullet points that outline your sports involvement, it’s all about the keywords and phrases you use. When it is expressed correctly, your interviewer will be able to see how your on-the-field skills will translate in the workplace.

For example, instead of stating that you were “Punctual to all practices,” you could say, “Excellent time management skills. Balanced a 40+ hour practice, training, competition, and travel schedule, in addition to academics.” Other key phrases to consider using are “coachable,” “dedicated,” and “team player.

If you were a team captain, use your resume as an opportunity to expand on your leadership abilities. Focus on practical skills you used as a leader; for example, “effectively managed communications between 24 team members,” “served as a liaison between the team and coaching staff,” and “effectively resolved intra-team conflicts.”

Think of all the transferable skills that could go on your resume such as:

  • Confidence
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Commitment
  • Coachable
  • Knows how to compete successfully
  • Self-motivated
  • Works well under pressure
  • Disciplined

Use strong action words to describe your accomplishments and skills:

  • Achieved
  • Established
  • Oversaw
  • Collaborate
  • Reviewed
  • Led
  • Redesigned
  • Influenced
  • Reinforces


Constantly Improving & Updating Your Resume

You should always be looking for things to include in your resume. Whether it is volunteer activities or any type of career-related organizations that you are involved in. These are the little things that can help you stand out from others when applying for jobs.

Also, keep in mind that you have to constantly edit and update your resume whenever you can and participate in different activities to not only gain experience but build your skill set. Your resume is your calling card and if you can have an impressive one without much work experience can say a lot about you going into any interview. 

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