Navigating the job market as an athlete


My background is in competitive team sports. Every once in a while I reflect on how much I have gained from sports in other aspects of my life, including working life.

Many young athletes don´t have the opportunity to acquire work experience  in addition to their studies and a tough training and competition schedule. This is why it is important that current and former athletes know how to highlight the skills, qualities and strengths they have accumulated during their career as an athlete. There are many factors that can support an athlete´s success in job hunting and in working life in general.

Athletes have often committed to working long days to reach their goals from a young age. Every high level athlete has faced trying moments and tested their limits in the course of their career, but still remained committed to their sport and practicing in the long term. In working life committing to the company is also valued.

My experiences in team sports have developed my communication and co-operation skills. In team athletes these skills are often highly developed early on. It is possible that at some stage of their careers team athletes spend more time with their team than their families. Team athletes have worked as a team for years, doing team work on an almost daily basis. Sport teams, like all teams, consist of very different kinds of people. Each team member is aware of the shared goal the team is working toward together. This is why everyone has to get along well and the communication has to be constructive.

Co-operation and communication also play an important role in working life. Therefore when looking for a job it is good to remember that as a team athlete you have years of experience in team work and effective communication.

Effective time management is a definitive advantage in the job search and in working life. An employee who can independently and effectively manage their time is an important asset to the company.

Athletes are used to being very punctual and committing to tight schedules. You might have for example successfully combined studying with your active sports career.  Athletes are often naturally punctual even outside the context of sports. This means they manage their time effectively and can manage several projects simultaneously in working life as well.

Many athletes are also very good in handling stress. Some athletes don't fully recognize they are supposed to be under pressure or stress. Athletes can experience pressure as a positive motivator pushing them toward their goal. Both in sports and in working life there are moments when the pressures mount. In these moments it is a definitive advantage if the employee is able to use the pressure as positive motivation for themselves.

Naturally top athletes are also ambitious and goal-oriented.  They constantly strive to improve and hunger for success. Employers appreciate an employee who meets challenges head on and works diligently toward their goals, inspiring others to do the same. These qualities also mean they are used to receiving constructive feedback and criticism. This makes athletes easy to coach and enthusiastic to improve in working life as well. You should therefore highlight your athletic achievements to show you are an ambitious and goal-oriented employee.

Handling losses and disappointments is a part of the everyday life of an athlete. This is one of the most important strengths for an athlete in working life.  Every athlete has met adversity and still continued to work toward their goals.

Lastly I would like to highlight the qualities of self-motivation and being a self-starter that all athletes possess. Athletes can motivate themselves and actively direct themselves toward their goals. This means they can actively reflect on, and analyze, their actions and development.

It is a good idea to highlight your athletic background and achievements on your CV and in job interviews. However it is important to remember that other qualities also matter in the job search.

A successful athletic career will also support your success in working life.