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Breaking into the sports industry: Tips for landing your dream job

January 22
Man speaking on the phone in his office holding baseball

The sports industry is more than just a game. With a global market value that's expected to surpass $623 billion by 2027, the sports industry is a thriving sector that’s rapidly growing.1

The sports sector is extremely broad, including opportunities that range from working with high-profile professional leagues to managing local community recreation programs and everything in between. To find your dream job and stand out in a competitive field, you’ll need to do some strategic planning and preparation.

This post will provide tips for discovering and landing your desired job in the sports industry.

Self-reflection and goal-setting

Because the sports industry is so expansive, you need to narrow down your choices before you start looking for a position. Start by considering your strengths and interests to determine what job role will best mesh with your skill set.2

Research roles within the sports industry to gain an understanding of the necessary education, skills, and requirements. A few of the many possibilities include:3

  • Athletic director
  • Athletic trainer
  • Contract negotiator
  • Event coordinator
  • Facility operations manager
  • Marketing manager
  • Sports broadcaster
  • Sports editor

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, set some specific goals for your job search. Goal-setting can increase your productivity between 60% and 80%.4 One of the reasons setting goals is so effective for job seekers is because it helps you focus your efforts in the right direction instead of blindly following a rabbit hole. The best goals are specific and measurable, such as making three new industry contacts this week or customizing your cover letter and sending a resume for five positions this month.

Build a strong professional network

The overwhelming majority of jobs are obtained through networking. Fortunately, few industries are as conducive to networking as sports, which offer a natural opportunity to engage in fun activities and connect with others.

You can start building a network by volunteering at a local sports club. This is an excellent way to meet people in your community who share your passion. Volunteering may lead to a paid opportunity, but even if it doesn’t, getting to know so many people will open doors.

Applying for internships can help you build your network and your resume. Explore opportunities at your university or directly reach out to clubs you’re interested in.5

Attend in-person and online networking events. You can find a current list of networking events on websites such as 10Times.6 Build a professional profile on LinkedIn as well to start connecting with people virtually.

Gain relevant education and experience

A certificate or degree is necessary to learn the skills and knowledge you need for some sports-centered jobs. Sports majors, such as exercise science or sport management, are a minimum requirement for certain positions. Advanced education, such as a master’s degree, can give you a significant advantage in the competitive sports industry. Pursuing a degree will also open the door to job-hunting resources, such as career counseling, mentors, and a network of educators and peers. You may discover opportunities to gain experience outside of school as well through the connections you make at your college.7

Develop a personal brand

Branding isn’t just for businesses. Building a personal brand helps athletes, coaches, managers, and anyone else in the sports industry stand out and gain a competitive advantage. Crafting a strong online and in-person presence can establish you as an expert and thought leader in your field.

Use social media, blogs, and other online platforms to create content and deliver value to your targeted audience. This can help you build a positive reputation and bring you to mind when people think of your niche.8

Showcase your passion and knowledge

When you’re writing a cover letter, make sure it highlights your passion. Just mentioning that you’re a fan or you’re passionate about sports isn’t enough. You need to back it up with actions. Talk about how you’ve volunteered at industry events or for local leagues to prove your interest.

You should also use your cover letter to expand on your skills and knowledge. This is the place to point out how your education or previous experience has prepared you for the role you're pursuing. Even if your previous jobs haven’t been in sports, use your cover letter to emphasize how your skills will transfer to your desired position.9

Leverage your internship or entry-level position

Once you’ve landed an internship or entry-level job, don’t rest on your laurels. You probably won’t land your dream job in your first at-bat, but you can use your first position as a stepping stone to get there.

Continue doing many of the things you did while job hunting. Set goals for getting the experience and skills you need to move up. Keep networking throughout your career. Look for opportunities to help others and stay in touch even when you’re not looking for a job.

When you’re at work, always go above and beyond. Become the go-to person for getting things done on your team, and don’t hesitate to take on high-profile projects. Consistently try to find ways to become an asset to your company, and you won’t be in an entry-level position for long.10

Navigating the dynamic landscape of sport management careers

Embarking on a career in sports management opens doors to a multifaceted industry where strategic planning and organizational skills are crucial. Sports management involves overseeing various aspects of sports organizations, including team operations, event planning, and player management.

To achieve your dream job in sports management, it's essential to navigate the dynamic landscape of this field strategically. Start by gaining a deep understanding of the industry's intricacies, staying informed about the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities. Engage with professionals through informational interviews, attend industry conferences, and explore internship opportunities to gain hands-on experience.

As mentioned above, aspiring professionals in sports management should focus on building a strong network within the sports world. Connect with experienced professionals, fellow students, and sports executives to expand your network and open doors to potential job opportunities.

Utilize your educational background effectively. Pursue degrees or certifications in sports management, business, or related fields to enhance your skill set. A solid educational foundation will set you apart in a competitive job market and position you as a qualified candidate for sports management roles.

Strategic approaches for landing your ideal sports job

The sports job market is dynamic and competitive, requiring job seekers to adopt strategic approaches to stand out. Whether you're aspiring to become an athletic director, delve into sports marketing, or pursue a different role within the sports industry, employing effective job search strategies is essential.

Crafting a compelling resume and cover letter tailored to the sports industry is the first step in achieving your dream job. Highlight your passion for sports, relevant skills, and any experiences that showcase your dedication. Emphasize how your skill set aligns with the specific requirements of the job you're targeting.

Leverage your strong network within the sports industry to discover hidden job opportunities and gain insights into potential employers. Attend industry-related events, connect with professionals on LinkedIn, and consider informational interviews to expand your network.

During the interview process, be prepared to discuss your knowledge of the sports world and how your skills make you a great fit for the role. Showcase your passion for the industry and your ability to contribute to the success of the organization.

Stay persistent and proactive in your job search, adapting your approach based on industry trends. With determination, a strong network, and a well-crafted job search strategy, you can navigate the competitive landscape and land your ideal job in the exciting world of sports.

Advance your career with an online master’s in sport management from the University of Kansas

The Jayhawks are known for their strong athletic tradition. Become an inside part of this tradition by studying sport management online at the University of Kansas. KU’s extensive network of alumni works for some of the top professional sports organizations in the country. You can finish your degree 100% online in as few as two years.

Immerse yourself in a broad curriculum that will prepare you for a broad range of career paths. Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor to learn more.