Former athletes have access to a wide range of exciting career opportunities. But in order to land a job, they must first learn how to sell themselves during an interview. The best way to do this is to figure out which of the qualities they honed as athletes translate to the business world. With a list of their positive attributes in mind, former athletes can then confidently walk into interviews armed with interesting and cogent stories that illustrate their applicable skills and strengths.
The following tips will help you prepare for job interviews after transitioning from an athletic career:
- Think about why you played the sport.
Your reasons for playing a sport contribute to your personal brand. Your brand is how you sell yourself to potential employers. This brand should necessarily pull from your background in sports and point toward a bright future in the business of your choice by connecting the two through similar driving points.
Only a tiny fraction of people who excel in a certain sport end up playing it professionally. What is it about you that makes you special? When describing your previous career, you should focus on the inherent qualities that enabled your achievements, but don’t just discuss your athletic talent. Talking about how many games your won or records you broke will bore a potential employer. After all, interviewers already know that you were very good at the sport—otherwise you would not have made it as a professional.
What motivated you to play the sport? Perhaps you enjoyed being part of a team, or you felt challenged when you had to execute a complicated play? In the former case, you can sell yourself as someone who works well with others and knows how to support teammates to get the job done. The latter case illustrates your skill as a leader. Maybe you loved the sport for a completely different reason. Consider what personally motivated you and then think about how this reflects upon your character and career path.
- Make a list of the best and most challenging points of your career.
When interviewers ask difficult questions, it is best to answer them by pointing to specific examples. How would you answer a question like, “What is your biggest weakness?” or, “What is your biggest strength?” Building a list of the most meaningful moments of your career gives you a handy stockpile of examples to pull from when answering these types of questions. Moreover, using these stories can make you more memorable to the interviewer and, more importantly, show him or her that you can learn from your experiences. This level of self-reflection points to someone with motivation to succeed.
As you create your list, don’t neglect to include your failures, whether they are personal or team-related. How you respond to and move on from failure demonstrates resilience and flexibility. Be sure to portray yourself honestly. If you only talk about your successes, you are only giving interviewers half of the picture. It is also likely that interviewers can uncover failures with a quick Google search. In fact, you should prepare yourself for direct questions about your failures, especially if they were particularly public ones. Your goal is to show the interviewer how your losses actually made you a stronger athlete and a better person.
- Understand how playing a sport develops you professionally.
Depending on the sport that you played, you probably gained a number of skills that are directly or indirectly applicable to the business world. Some of the qualities that you may want to highlight include:
- High levels of self-motivation and endurance, both physical and mental
- Excellent time management
- A strong sense of discipline and an impeccable work ethic
- The ability to play as part of a team in an essentially competitive setting
- Resilience and the ability to operate under high-stress situations
- A willingness to learn and an ability to follow coach’s orders
- An inherent love for challenge and the opportunity to prove oneself
These traits of any good athlete are directly translatable to the business world. Your job is to think which traits you embody, develop clear and compelling demonstrations of them from your athletic experience, and connect the traits to your desired career. Focus on two or three strong straits that you can talk about in depth and connect them directly to the role that you want. Ultimately, you need to use your history to convince the interviewer that you will bring real value to the company.