Having been interviewing on behalf of a client just recently, as we drew to a close he explained his son was soon to be leaving university and wanted a career in the sports industry. It was his passion and dream to work for XYZ football club. What could I do to help or advise him on how to accomplish this dream.
Have been asked this same question many, many times. I usually make a concerted effort to speak to them and listen to the reasons they want to work in the industry and then advise accordingly and with a degree of honesty that surprises them and occasionally me.
Then only the other day I was sat with a industry veteran, a guy that has been a friend, candidate and client for over 15 years and someone who I trust and respect enormously. Our conversation soon turned to the next challenge. What next? The answer from him was not at all what I was expecting.
So I am going to give two perspectives - one for the ones coming into the market and later on one for those looking around at whats next after a solid tenure in this sports world.
I am of the opinion that the new blood coming into the sports sector will be driven by projects, not by careers. The employers that recognise this better than most are coming from a tech or content angle. Many are early stage companies and are geared up best for this stye of work. It suits the millennial approach to workflows, it stimulates and engages better with how they operate in the world. The companies themselves are often owned and run by recent graduates or young people and they know how to reach each other fast, accurately and with minimum of fuss and risk. This is very true of the creative marketing and design work forces who operate almost entirely on short term project based work. Sport is heading the same way.
An example was for MCFC as I had to bring in young ambitious talent for the in house design team. We ran some well designed adverts specifically for new and fresh talent (www.adjobwall.com) and ran interviews in house over three days. The head of the team and I met all those shortlisted based on portfolio and the standout candidate was immediate by the work produced and that research he did before the interviews. Crucially all viewed this a stepping stone, no heavy career talk, just pace and energy with results. He spent a successful 1.5 years there before moving to the next project at a London club. It shows that attitudes are braver and the openness of ambition and what drives this new generation of creative people.
So tip one - don't be afraid of seeing your work as a series of interesting project sand saying as much to a employer.
What you know, who you know, how to tell the right person that you are there…
Know the world you want to be in, read about the people in it, follow them in social medias and engage with them in ways that you know to be reasonable and authentic to you. Illustrate your ability through projects that are linked to what they are currently doing or are soon to be launching. By using this level of insight and positioning you greater enhance your chances of landing a meeting and possible engagement.
Tip two - no one employs on “passion” alone,
Its unaccountable, naff and the risk of hiring fans alone is simply not worth it. A healthy interest is of course required, as is a good level of dispassion when required. A sports club is still a business needs to be run as such. Bring alternative ideas and push back on the status quo and challenge relentlessly.
Build relationships. Build networks, invest your resources into establishing routes to the most relevant people in your market. Demonstrate your skills and abilities in ways that are synergistic and of the moment. Hunt down innovation in the sports industry. Look ahead as to whats happening and be there as much you are able.
Tip three - network and be networked
Attend industry events, growth hacks are great platforms for tech and innovation. Get these listed on your project list and resume, show your value in ways you can bank for the future and use when required.
Am still unsure on degree courses that are sport marketing specific, because until the industry recognises them for the benefits that they can bring then why bother? Use that time to build your own network and get traction with very practical expertise.
Recruiters - absolutely do engage with them, make sure you are at the minimum registered with them, go out of your way to build a relationship with them. Savvy and smart ones will recognise the value of this as you could well be a client in the very near future. Appreciate that they are only rewarded by placements made and as such take your time with them and like all good relationships - you get back what you put in.
I have touched on a few aspects that I hope are useful, its a big and wide ranging topic and will continue to support the new generation as much as I can. Next week, I will look at the issue of where next in the sports and entertainment industry for the seasoned and senior execs.