How sport can increase your employability in a changing market

How sport can increase your employability in a changing market

When I say “sport”, I am of course talking about playing sport and not just setting up the couch for a summer of cricket. But, with a shift in employer appetites from competency-based assessment to that of a candidate’s future potential, many of the skills learnt on a sporting field are now in fashion.

With big businesses such as Deloitte and others publicly indicating that a university qualification is not necessarily the main thing they are interested in, why has there been a shift in the recruitment process?

The reality is with the average person only staying in one position somewhere between 2 to 4 years, and technology doubling every 6 months to 2 years depending on your industry, the consequence of such a fast-changing world is that universities are struggling to keep up with the dynamic demands of the market and employers are having to retrain staff to keep up with innovation.

As a result, rather than being interested in what you have done in the past, employers are more interested in your potential to adapt and learn new things in the future.

For this reason they have identified the following skills as favourable;

  • Self-management
  • Team work
  • Business and customer awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy
  • Application of literacy

Whilst granted that some of our more brawn-over-brain athletes may need to match their numeracy and literacy skills to their initial positions, the modern sporting arena is increasingly providing them with an ideal training experience for the remaining skills.

The ability of student-athletes to master both a sporting pursuit whilst simultaneously developing skills in another area is a direct match to the reality of many current employment requirements. In a world that requires constant upskilling, your ability to balance both performance and ongoing learning is a key attribute in your success.

So what does it take to be successful?

To achieve success, student-athletes require self-management and an ability to plan and remain disciplined to achieve in both fields.

Teamwork and communication

These two are self-evident in team sports, but even in more individual sporting arenas, many athletes work with coaches and specialists. They are increasingly trained in media skills and have an acute awareness of their presentation in public in order to establish a brand in line with the organisations they represent and also their own image.

For Olympic athletes, where funding is scarce outside of Olympic years, many rely on these skills to attract sponsorships that are essential for their survival and performance.

Business and customer awareness skills

Whilst it is possible that athletes may need some development in this area, they are constantly wheeled out in marketing campaigns and are at the front line of customer interactions. They are social media proficient and have a heightened awareness of both the positive power and possible damage both social and mainstream media can have.

So, before you dismiss your sporting heroes as only that, and before you hang up the boots or racket on your own sporting career, maybe you could start viewing them as potential competition for future positions? And in doing so, you can reflect on what you have learnt from your own sporting experiences.

Greg Mumm

Greg is the Managing Director of The Final Whistle. He spent 10 years as a professional rugby coach working at all levels from school to international level, including assisting Fiji at both the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. He co-founded CareerHQ with his father John, a career guidance platform which helps young men and women create their own unique and fulfilling career paths.

Interests: education, leadership, family, business, coaching, values facilitation, human behaviour, rugby.

First Article: February 2016

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