Assistants- Apply for jobs with the best strategy!

June 8, 2018

Looking for a job is an art and a skill. Not looking at it that way may cost you a great new beginning. This short piece is also about a pet peeve of mine. As a director of strength and conditioning and a coach who has been around a good while, I hear of and encounter way too many coaches not putting the time, effort or strategy into applying for an opportunity! To me, that means that you won’t put time, effort and strategy into your job! So, let me give you my perspective on what I consider to be important as you look to climb the ladder.

The obvious priorities as I peruse your resume are where you’ve been so I can get my bearings on your years of experience, what levels you’ve been at and who I know at the places you’ve been. In addition to that, the following list may or may not surprise you.

1.       Where’s the Director of Strength and Conditioning?!

a.       When I look at your references (I don’t like “References upon request”. What is the purpose of that anyway? If I’ve posted a job opening, I have requested your references!), the first thing I look for is whether or not the Director/Head of Strength and Conditioning is listed on the resume.

b.       If he/she is not listed, you better have a reasonable explanation, 1) why you haven’t listed the head strength coach at your present or last job as a reference and, 2) why you have not told me about it before or at the same time I see your resume? Get out in front of it and immediately explain the situation in an honest and professional way. Just because you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your last boss doesn’t mean you and I won’t! Not bringing it up is unprofessional, brings up an honesty issue and a horrible start.

2.       List all your working experiences

a.       I read the entire resume…. all of it. I am curious of all that you’ve done. It matters to me if you’ve worked at Starbucks or did volunteer work outside of the profession. Especially if you were working at Starbucks while on a strength staff- tells me you want this profession! Don’t leave it out.

3.       Make sure your references will actually give you a “stand up on the desk and jump up and down” recommendation.

a.       Ask each person you want to list if you can put them down as a reference. Just because you’ve worked with someone does not mean they think you’re an unbelievable coach. List someone who thinks you are.

b.       Likewise, when you ask me to be on your resume, it’s my responsibility to tell you that I cannot give you a spectacular recommendation and why.

4.       Apply online and send an email directly to me with your resume indicating you’ve applied for the position opening.

a.       If your only action to secure a job is to apply online, don’t bother. It’s the first thing you do but not the last and it shows little initiative.

b.       If there is no reply two days following your application submission, send another email to me and maybe give me a phone call.

                                                               i.      Don’t worry about “bothering” your possible future employer with too much reasonable communication. If you’re future boss is bothered by your persistence and enthusiasm to be a part of their staff then you don’t want to be there anyway!

5.       Perform a thorough investigation of “Who can I find that knows the person that is going to hire me?”

a.       Go to the organizations website and read the bios of the entire staff you’re looking to join. In addition, look at every sport coach’s and administrators bio. You never know who you know or who you know that knows them. Days into the process, I had a staff member tell me that they applied to a college institution. Bad call- I had coached the athletic director, I had worked a few years with the head trainer, and I had competed for four years as an athlete in the conference that this institution was in. I could have helped. PS- if you don’t know the background of the current staff you sit on, shame on you!

b.       Don’t tell me you couldn’t find anything. Heard of the internet?

6.       By all means “name drop” in the opening paragraph of your cover letter.

a.       If the first paragraph contains “When I mentioned to Bryan Mann I was interested in your position opening, he told me to tell you hello and to put him down as a reference” or “Jason Veltkamp told me of your job opening and that I should reach out to you”, you’re getting an automatic response from me! Dropping the names of my good friends, colleagues or established professionals that you have relationships with gets you closer to getting in the interview process. It also puts a huge accent on your resume because those professionally close to me would only think of suggesting someone that would be a great fit.

7.       I’ve read this before and I believe this- don’t list yourself as “hard working, diligent, dedicated, creative……” well, you get the picture.

a.       ‘’Working two jobs during my graduate assistantship did not stop me from creating an athlete testing database that correlated the information into standard deviations, Z scores, and averages for athletes by year (frosh, sophomore, junior, seniors)”, says the same thing but with real-life examples. Separate yourself from the majority with examples.

b.       Separate yourself further and not list conferences you’ve attended or practitioners you’ve visited. I don’t look at it. Since you are in this profession it is your responsibility to go to conferences, visit other coaches and network!  

8.       Include pieces of information about our school and staff in your cover letter.

a.       Here again, it shows due diligence applying for the job opening. Exactly what we expect from our athletes- great effort!

9.       One intentional fabrication on your resume (your explanation will make it clear to me) severely limits your chances of me hiring you.

a.       Do I need to explain?!


Our internship has a dedicated portion of the curriculum addressing the job hunting process which includes numerous conversations throughout the year! It’s that important and our responsibility. To be clear, there are more than seven points that are important and some points are more important to some coaches than others. When seeking to move on, ask for as much help as possible to have the best chance to get an interview.