Tips On Applying To Your First Job After Sports

As a professional or high-level competitive athlete, you have likely devoted most of your waking hours to fine-tuning your craft. In the offseason, you trained for the upcoming season so you were as prepared as possible both mentally and physically. During the grind of the season, when you weren’t practicing in between games, maintaining your conditioning or receiving treatment for any injuries, you were most likely participating in community events and spending the limited downtime with your family. Because of all this, the chances that you have any professional experience outside of your playing career are low.

With limited to no experience, how are you supposed to transition to a second career?

Luckily, the players associations for the various professional leagues have some sort of career transition or preparation opportunities. For example, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has a variety of programs including its externship program, and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has Sportscaster U. for players interested in a broadcasting career.

Additionally, Jon Carpenter of The Muse released an article titled “How to Apply for a Job in a New Field When You Have No Traditional Experience,” and I thought his steps were applicable to the VIKTRE Career Network audience and job seekers as a whole. As an athlete, you may not think you meet the expectations outlined in the job description due to a lack of experience. However, the skills you have learned throughout your career are likely transferable to the workplace. As Carpenter can attest, “there’s a difference between not being qualified and having strong transferable skills that you’re not even aware of.”

There are four steps to determine if you truly are not qualified or if you are just unaware of your transferable skills.

Inventory Your Career “Raw Materials”

List as many of your experience, skills, accolades and past “wins” as possible. Ways to do this, according to Carpenter are to ask yourself the following:

  • What good things would past supervisors and co-workers say about me? What about friends, mentors, or professors?
  • How have I contributed measurable results in the past?
  • How have I contributed beyond what’s easy to measure? Am I a natural leader? Have I served on a company culture committee? Have I won awards?

For more questions to ask yourself, read the full article here.

In this first step, Carpenter recommends writing down your skills. This serves as a starting point.

Understand What the Very Best People In Your Desired Role Actually Do

Have you ever been perusing LinkedIn and stumbled upon someone with a job title that immediately stuck out in your mind?Have you wondered what this person actually does? One way to do this is through informational interviews. By speaking with people in roles of interest, you are gaining knowledge that can be applied to an interview and even your career down the line.

Highlight the Traits Most Relevant for the Role

When searching for and applying to jobs, it is key to tailor both your resume and cover letter to each individual job description. By using key words and phrases, your application will stand out to a company’s applicant tracking system and hopefully move you along in the process. While you might not have leadership skills in the sense that the description is looking for, you can highlight your leadership both on and off the field during your playing days. Drawing parallels between your playing career and future corporate career is key.

If you know that you don’t have certain skills required of the person in this position, figuring out how to earn them or taking a deeper look at whether or not you have experienced them is recommended BEFORE applying.

Check In With Someone Knowledgeable Who Will Tell You The Truth

As an athlete you are used to coaches giving you feedback during practices and games so you can continue to get better. Being used to feedback will come in handy because the last step that Carpenter recommends is to reach out to one of your contacts and ask them for their honest feedback on your application.

Sometimes a second set (or multiple) of eyes will catch different things on a resume or cover letter that you missed. Having a teammate or a coach take a look at your application materials is also a good idea, as they are someone who can advocate on your behalf and back up your claims.

Although former athletes might not have work experience in the traditional sense, the skills and discipline learned throughout an athletic career makes them sought after candidates. If you’re feeling stuck when it comes to your career transition or even looking for a job, check out our friends over at NexGoal.

Where Should You Go Next on VIKTRE?

Take the Next Step in Your Career, View Our Job Board!

Follow Your Favorite Athletes on

Create Your Athlete Profile on VIKTRE Today