7 Advantages Former Athletes Should Play Up During Job Interviews

Whether playing a sport in high school, college or pro, many athletes enter the workforce after their athletic careers, and lucky for them, they enter with a competitive advantage.

At NCSA, we hire many former athletes because we know that lessons learned as an athlete can translate into great performance in the workplace. We also know many former athletes just don’t know how to sell the value of their athletic skills, team experience, and training during a job interview.

After spending years playing a sport, athletes have developed at least seven key traits they should play up to score their next job:

1. They excel at time management.

Managing academics and athletics is no easy feat. Between morning and night practices, and a full class schedule in between, athletes need to find the time to complete homework and study to maintain a minimum GPA. Not to mention making time for social events or spending time with friends. In the workplace, former athletes excel at creating a schedule and hitting deadlines.

2. They don’t make excuses.

Given the all of the tasks they have to balance, athletes can’t and don’t make excuses. They need to create solutions. If they have an exam to study for while on the road traveling for a game, they stay up all night or spend every off-minute studying. Athletes don’t make excuses; they figure it out and do whatever it takes to stay ahead.

3. They make sacrifices.

Athletes understand how to prioritize their schedules based on importance and are okay with making sacrifices. They may miss a social event to work on a paper they didn’t have time to get to during the day because of their full class and practice schedule. They don’t back burner important things for personal preference, but understand how to prioritize to hit goals.

4. They don’t take things personally.

Athletes know a coach’s feedback, as direct as it may be, is for the better good of their development as well as that of the team. Also, given the amount of coaches they have had throughout their athletic careers, athletes also have experience receiving feedback from different types of leaders, allowing them to be receptive regardless of what type of manager they work for. They’ve been exposed to a vast range of personalities and management types.

5.They are resilient.

Athletes are their own toughest critics. They want to be the best and will be harder on themselves than any coach or manager could be. If there is a flaw in the process, they will be relentless about getting better. If they have a failure in the workplace, former athletes won’t dwell on what went wrong, but instead learn from it and push to improve.

6. They’re team players.

Athletes understand the concept of success being a team effort. They are not selfish. If a coworker is behind, they will stay at the office late to help them finish a project. They understand that leaving a coworker behind won’t benefit the team or the company in hitting a goal and achieving success.

7. They’re manageable.

Every manager wants employees who are easy to manage. This means people who are receptive to feedback and are open to learning new processes. Athletes have been coached their entire lives, having had to adapt to different feedback and approaches, which translates effortlessly into the workplace.


Lisa Strasman is President and COO of NCSA, Next College Student Athlete, whose mission is to help families realize their collegiate dreams by fulfilling the genuine need for today’s student-athletes to become better college recruits. 

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