5 Reasons Why Athletes Make Great Employees

why athletes make great employees

What sets you apart from the competition?  How will your skills help an employer?  Student-athletes seem to have a tough time with their job search.  Why?  There are several skills and attributes athletes possess that would make a recruiter jump at the chance to hire them.  The challenge is how athletes are viewed (not all want to go pro) and how most are taught to position themselves for success.  Here are a few different ways to think about student-athletes:

Teamwork – From day one, you’re working as a team.   You know how a functional and dysfunctional team operates.  Use this to your advantage in the job search.  Reach out to your fellow teammates and network to help each other.

Leadership – As a member of a team, you may have the opportunity to serve as the team Captain.  This is your chance to work with senior leadership (the coaches) calling the right plays to win.  In the workforce, it’s no different.  Employers need people who will work with their bosses to achieve the greater vision.  Possessing the skills to call the play and function as a team can be mutually beneficial.

Communication – Whether you’re the team Captain or not, you have to be a good communicator in sports and in business.  If you have a great idea, speak up.  It may seem like a stupid question to you, but it could help the team function more efficiently and effectively.   They’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Execution – Athletes work as a team, using leadership and communication to get the “W”.  However, that’s just part of the play.  A great play has flawless execution.  Follow through with your game plan.

Dedication – As an athlete, you’ll likely never hear a complaint about an 8:00-5:00pm job.  In most cases, they’re used to getting up early, running drills and preparing for the big game.  The dedication that athletes possess carries over into the professional workplace.  The big game is their (and your) success. 

As an athlete, I would encourage you to highlight these skills and attributes on your résumé.  You may not have had traditional employment experience, but you’ve had a full-time job: your role on the team.  List this as experience, quantify the results, and show that you’re more than just a jock.  Be a jock that gets the job!

Recruiters and HR Managers: What are your thoughts on hiring athletes?  Do you have a strategy already in place?  In my opinion, they’re an untapped asset missing from many recruitment strategies. 

Student-Athletes: What challenges are you facing in your job search?  Let us know how we can help. Now, let’s GO TEAM! ending


18 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Athletes Make Great Employees

  1. As both a former college athlete and a recruiter I completely agree with this post. Candidates who are athletes should emphasize what was learned in their team experiences. And as importantly, I’d encourage hiring managers and recruiters to be able to identify and seek out the skills taught on the playing field as they translate very well to the workplace. Well done!


  2. As a former professional tennis player and college tennis player I completely agree with this post. Great job and keep it up. You can visit my blog to at eatsnbeats.com. Or eatsnbeat.wordpress.com.


  3. Great post, Kirk! I meet with several student athletes who don’t have a lot of work experience. We have conversations about why their athletic commitment is valuable and what skills they have acquired from it. Many have a high GPA and I tell them to include a line on their resume that highlights their academic achievement despite the stresses of being a full-time student athlete.


    1. Mallory, Camelia and Chris,

      Thanks so much for your comments! It’s always great to hear from former athletes when it comes to this subject. If you know someone that is struggling with communicating their sports involvement on the resume, please help them! It’s people like you that really make the difference.

      Thanks again.


  4. Kirk, Great post! I couldn’t agree more. There are many skills and attributes acquired during the course of athletic competition that are directly transferable to the work force. It simply comes down to student-athletes ability to effectively articulate these skills proxy for direct employment experience. In my work with http://www.TheCorporatePlaybook.com we have found hundred of employers that value the unique skills that student-athletes bring to their organization and are continuing to add to the list of student-athletes desirable traits. Most recently I’ve been told by employers they like the adaptability of student-athletes and their ability to accept coaching and immediately put coaching tips into action.


  5. Thanks for the post! As a former student-athlete pursuing my master in business administration and sports business management, your insight on how to sell my personal brand is a great reminder. What do you feel are some more creative ways, maybe not so obvious, that student-athletes can market themselves outside of communication/teamwork/coachability/dedication/leadership/execution?


    1. JD,

      Thanks for your comment. Good question! Another (overlooked, believe it or not) thing to include on an athlete’s resume is GPA. Many take it for granted that recruiters assume a healthy GPA is needed for athletic eligibility. Make it easy for them – show off the GPA!


  6. Great points to work on athlete attributes vs qualifications alone. I made use of this myself post-professional beach volleyball career and also have spoken on the topic. I would add ‘goal-orientated’ and time management skills (especially if they played individual sports and had to co-ordinate training, with fitness along with studies).
    In my experience, being an athlete has been an advantage – as long as you see it as that, it will be for you too.


  7. this is great! just graduated from college and was a 4-year athlete. looking for a job right now — I feel like most of us forget that most employers don’t know the amount of commitment and organization it takes to do a sport and be a student at the same time


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