My curiosity in how coaches at the highest level structure their resumes and CV’s is one that has been sparked some time ago, but I have now found myself traveling down a path, with coaching as a profession being the end result. What is your advice on how I should present my resume?
This is a question that has been the source of quite a few heated discussions in my household! My wife, Erin, has worked in the corporate finance world and is a big believer that a resume and cover letter are of upmost importance to career progression, to the extent that a few years ago, she dedicated one full month to completely revamping and redesigning my resume, and was furious at the lack of excitement that I displayed when she presented the glossy and professional version back to me. As you have guessed, I am not convinced in the importance of a resume when it comes to careers in sport. Instead, I’m more concerned about what goes into it. In my opinion, if you are relying on a fancy resume to get yourself a coaching job, you are probably not as far ahead as your competition will be.
It’s not that I don’t believe in the actual resume itself, but rather I believe that it extends way beyond one piece of paper or PDF. Years ago, business ‘guru’, Gary Vaynerchuck predicted that your social media would become your resume and I think that is definitely the case today. So many coaches (including myself of course) are active on social media and every day they are presented with an opportunity to communicate exactly what they are passionate about. It goes beyond what you are tweeting as well. If I am personally looking to hire a “young and ambitious coach” I want to look at who exactly you follow and how exactly you are engaging with other people online, because this tells me who exactly you listen to and how you react to the information, both of which I consider very important attributes in a coach. Anyone can post a motivational tweet every now and then, but are you absorbing this information from good sources and are you interacting in the right manner online? For example, going out of your way to aggressively criticize a peer who has created a form of content does not come across as someone who is as “open minded” and “driven to look for ways to get better” as their resume may suggest. No, social media activity is not a pre-requisite to be a top-level coach, but if you are active online, why not use it as a way to communicate, engage, and express yourself in a professional manner?
As coaches begin to work on their resumes and prepare for the next potential opportunity, there are two other ‘R’s’ that I would encourage them to focus on.
Without doubt, coaching is a relationship business and it’s so important today to have the ability to connect with people, both on and off the field. I am not a big fan of the term ‘networking’ because to me, it has a certain element of brevity towards it and comes across as a ‘meet and greet’ without any real depth. For me, it’s not enough to simply say hello to influential people, but instead you have to engage with them. One of many things I wish I knew when I started my coaching career, was the value of having a coffee with someone. Some of both my greatest learning experiences and connections have taken place in a Starbucks and I am still surprised by how accessible these opportunities are. In ten years, I have never had a coach say no when I’ve requested one and I have never turned down a coach who did the same. The reason for this may be because coaches usually like to talk about the game, and if you request a coffee, you typically have something you would like to bring to the conversation (either by questions or asking for feedback on content you have created) and that is a crucial starting point to engaging with someone who you want to meet. Questions show humility and content shows vulnerability. Both of which are attributes that draw in a lot of people. You can find opportunities to do this at coaching conferences and workshops, but also by taking initiative and driving to a practice or someone’s facility and sitting down with them. Again, a huge advantage of social media today is that you can connect with more professional’s than ever before and we are fortunate to live at a time when this is possible. If I’m looking to hire a coach and someone has never connected with an influential professional in their area, I would wonder why.
As much as resume building and networking are about looking at the next step in your career, your reputation is more focused on taking care of your current destination. So many young coaches reach out to me and ask career advice about best way to move to this or that level, but I always remind them that they must take care of where they are right now. In soccer, it’s very, very difficult to predict and plan your pathway as a coach, so enjoying where you currently are is of upmost importance. It’s not just about winning percentages or trophies. Depending on the level, you can grow your reputation by developing players or even providing people with a great experience within the game. This also extends to how you conduct yourself in other people’s environment also and it’s crazy how every time I hear a negative comments about a coach, its related to how they act on the sideline. Do not get carried away with your three references but again extend it towards the fact that anyone you meet could be a potential source of information for a future employer.
The coaching profession is different. We are not judged for our team’s results as much as we are for how we communicate and relate to other people. Ambition is a great quality for a young coach, but never overlook the fact that what happens today really matters and failure to get that right could have consequences down the road. Always be professional, positive, well mannered, and use your humility to go out and connect with people that you can also learn from. Hope that helps and good luck!