I think if you ask most college students if they had a chance to work in the sports business they would jump on the opportunity. Here lies the problem, too many resumes chasing too few jobs. Actually very few sports jobs ever get posted because most people get in the door on a “who you know basis”.
But don’t give up hope just yet, the sports industry is littered with determined individuals who had no connections but found a way to get in the door.
Since I am an NFL agent, I will focus this article on the football business but it can definitely be applied to other sports.
1) The first thing job seekers have to do is think outside of the box, and realize the sports landscape is bigger and more diverse than it appears. There are career/job opportunities in the most obscure places of the sports spectrum.
In focusing on teams, NFL clubs have a growing roster of employees. There are positions on two sides of the fence. The football operations side and the non-football operations side.
For example, the football operations side usually includes: Scouting, scouting and coaching support, salary cap, accounting, video, tech support, nutrition, travel, strength and conditioning, player development, medical, and equipment.
The non-operational side usually includes: Stadium seat/luxury box sales, community/foundation, public relations, legal, game day operations, stadium management and marketing, sponsorship sales, accounting, facility management, secretarial, digital operations, partnership liaison, and team marketing.
On average each NFL team may employ hundreds of employees, not counting players. Turnover isn’t high, but as the NFL grows so does the amount of employees of each team, the league office, and the NFL partners. So when trying to break into working in sports/football keep an open mind of what types of jobs there are and try to match your skill set to a specific department within an organization and or NFL partner.
2) Another place to get a job in sports is to work for a team/league partner. Companies like Verizon, Coke, Pepsi, General Motors, Papa John’s pizza, DirecTV, Sony, General Motors, Visa, Gatorade, Bridgestone, Bose, FedEx, Mars, and even Microsoft. When applying for a job with one of these companies, specifically ask to be on the sports interactive side of their business.
3) Seek an internship while you are young: The best time to land an internship is actually while you are still in college. I helped a friend’s son land a pre-season camp internship with the Raiders sixteen years ago. After he graduated and four camps later, he was offered a job in their scouting department. He is now going on his 12th season (with another team) and just got promoted.
People in the business love helping young college kids more so than older job seekers. If you are older and have some work experience you may want to explore other fields that work with athletes such as: Agents, marketers, accountants, financial consultants, concierge client services, or real estate.
4) Be creative in making contact and getting in front of a person of hiring power. Send correspondences to department heads (ex: Scouting directors, facility managers that you want to work for). Also, send a personal letter to their assistants, who are usually very protective so it’s important to win them over. And that’s the key; win them over by getting their attention by standing apart. I once hired a guy who sent me a hand written letter every day for 26 days (don’t try this on me, it's not original to me but it may be to others). So how do you do that? Stand out. If you send a cover letter and a resume to a team, league or company, you will be like 95% of everyone looking for a sports job. However, if you do something different you will stand out.
5) Just about everyone loves sports and alot of people want to work in the industry. Because there is such a buyers market for sports employers, jobs are hard to land, hours are long and the work is not as glamorous as people think. When you see the end product on TV it looks like it's amazing and fun to be a part of. Truth be told, working in sports means you are probably sandwiched between the needs and agenda of demanding and powerful high profile individuals (coaches, players, owners). So before you dive in the shark-infested pool of landing a sports job, be realistic about what you are getting into.
Most people make the mistake of choosing a career without matching it against the lifestyle they want for themselves. Sports careers are demanding, stressful, and competitive, be sure it's the right career for you.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta