Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail

LAPS’ Partnership Manager and former rugby international Holly Wood shares her advice on applying for roles.

Networking – the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.’

It is never too early to prepare for life after sport. Networking is a common term you will come across when seeking advice from others or looking for new job opportunities. Quite simply, it helps you advance your career through exchanging information, advice, seeking support on challenges, sharing experiences and being introduced to new people who are able to give you answers to questions that may be raised. These are all key benefits of networking because it allows you to gain new insights that you may not have otherwise thought of.

My top tips for networking:

  • Consider what you want to gain by being specific with the types of industry, companies and people you want to chat with
  • Be proactive by maintaining and nurturing current relationships you have
  • Keep track of your network and continually update it, whether that’s electronically or on paper
  • Look for networking events both in-person and virtual
  • Utilise and build your LinkedIn profile which is probably one of the most powerful online tools to connect with new people, companies and job search. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is as ‘filled out’ and up to date as possible, and spend time making new connections and researching.

CV – a brief account of a person’s education, qualifications, and previous occupations, typically sent with a job application.’

Your CV is the first snapshot a potential new employer is going to get, and will be their opportunity to decide whether or not they take you to first interview. There’s plenty of advice and templates online to help you build a CV but try to utilise your current network to seek advice on what hiring managers may be looking for. Being an ex/current athlete your CV is going to look different to someone who has taken a more traditional career path so it’s important to create a CV to fit your circumstance.

Being an athlete is what is going to make you stand out from other candidates, so how you come across and convey the transferable skills that you’ve taken from your time as an athlete and transition those into a workplace setting is important.

Please reach out to the LAPS team for CV advice, and help build upon what you currently have!

Realistic – having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.’

When you are transitioning from sport to the workplace, in some ways you are starting a new career from scratch. However, it’s important to understand what your sporting career has given you, which will put you above other candidates for certain roles. Being a professional sportsperson will have made you very coachable, resilient, a team player, motivated, disciplined, able to perform under pressure and many more. These are all soft skills that employers will look for when recruiting and building the right culture within their company. At LAPS, we find companies who are recruiting for customer-facing roles want to work with us and employ athletes in roles such as account managers, sales, and business development. Your experiences will help you gauge what level you will be more successful at applying to, and what kind of salary you should expect.

A common trend we find is that athletes find it difficult to manage their own expectation when it comes to salary. It’s understandable because coming from sport you’re more likely to be on a higher salary than an entry-level role, so be realistic and prepare yourself that although you may have to start from the bottom on a lower salary, the soft skills you have will put you in good stead to move up quickly.

Preparation: the action or process of preparing or being prepared for use or consideration.’

Getting the all-important initial interview call gives an employer a chance to cut down those candidates who show potential to do the role, to those who they think are capable and want within their team. Although you may think this is a casual call, it is probably one of the more important parts of the interview stages. They are regularly quite short, over the phone and compact in the information they want from you, so preparation is key to show the best version of you without meeting someone face to face.

It may sound obvious, but ensure you know your CV well because you’ll probably get asked specific questions on key points they’ve picked out. Make sure you study the company and job specification thoroughly, and show enthusiasm and desire to want to work for the company throughout your chat. Finally, the most important part of your preparation is the questions you ask. ‘Do you have any questions?’ will probably come at the end of the call, and a few of your questions may have already been answered without your asking, so having prepared multiple, challenging, thought provoking questions, will ensure the employer remembers you.

Luckily, at LAPS, the majority of us have been through the transition from professional/elite sport to the working world, so we understand the challenges you face. Our network is endless and we are here to help you, so utilise LAPS as much as you can!