Strategies For Branding Yourself Within Sports

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Alex was conducting an informational interview with the athletic director at a small New England college.  He was trying to learn more about the sports industry and was hoping to pursue a career in college sports.  One of the topics they discussed was on building a solid career within college athletics.  The athletic director mentioned that Alex should focus on building a strong brand within the industry and he should begin by creating a personal branding statement.

Intrigued by the concept of branding, Alex asked what a brand is, and how he would go about branding himself?  In a nutshell, a personal brand is how people view you.  It is your reputation and what people think of when they hear your name.  Your reputation is built on what you’ve accomplished and what type of personality traits you possess.  Your accomplishments usually reflect your expertise in the industry such as a coach’s win-loss record or a marketing director’s knowledge and expertise in licensing.  Your personality traits could include if you are friendly, have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic or are a good team member within the department.

In developing your brand identity, there are several techniques you can use to effectively create your personal brand.  The first step is to develop your personal branding statement.  This is a statement that defines what you do and who you serve.  It includes identifying the industry in which you work (e.g. intercollegiate athletics), your profession (e.g. sports information), and your area of specialization (e.g. game operations).

Over time, specializing within a particular niche within the industry is the key to creating your brand.  In other words, what will you be known for?  What area within the industry are you an expert?  Becoming an expert takes time, but you can begin by learning about a particular niche right away.  Below are four steps you can take to begin branding yourself within your industry.

Join A Professional Association – One of the key elements to becoming known in any industry is to get to know the people within the profession.  With this in mind, the next step in developing your personal brand is to identify and join the associations for your profession.  By joining a professional association, you will have an opportunity to learn about the profession, have an opportunity to meet other colleagues within the profession, and be able to stay connected with these colleagues through a common interest – the professional association.

Be Aware Of Your Image – Your image is the perception that others have of you.  It is a reflection of your activities, actions, and behaviors.  Make sure that your lifestyle is congruent with the image you want for your brand. This holds true for both your personal and professional life.  At some point your personal and professional life will become intertwined and become one in the same.

Writing and Publishing – One of the best ways to become recognized as an industry expert is to write and become published on topics within your area of specialization.  Find a topic within your industry that interests you, research it, and write an article for a professional journal. 

Public Speaking – Another way to become recognized as an expert is through public speaking.  As you write your papers and submit them for publication, turn them into speeches.  Contact the local Kiwanis Clubs and Rotary Clubs and share your expertise with them.  Contact your professional association and submit a proposal for a presentation at a regional or national conference.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is best prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition  at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

 

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Seven Common Job Interview Mistakes

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

It was mid-morning and Cynthia was preparing for her job interview that was scheduled for later in the week.  The sound of The Today Show was softly playing in the background when something caught her ear.  The hosts were discussing the outcome of a recent study of mistakes people make during their job interview.  This news article stopped Cynthia in her tracks.  She replayed the segment over and over, and then spent the next couple of hours searching the Internet for information on the subject.  What Cynthia uncovered was that some of the most commonly made mistakes that people make during their interview include:

1.    Dressing Inappropriately – During an interview you need to dress appropriate for the job.  For most jobs, you will want to dress in a professional manner.  Don’t wear jeans or a cocktail dress, instead where a suit and tie, or a professional dress or pants suit.

2.    Being late for the interview – If you’re late for the interview just know that you probably won’t get the job.  Know where you’re going ahead of time.  If you’re unfamiliar with the area, drive by the interview site earlier in the day or the night before.  If you’re interviewing in a large hotel or building, walk by the room prior to your scheduled interview.  Plan on arriving to the interview site an hour early.  With this philosophy, if you get lost or traffic is crazy, you will still be on time.

3.    Leaving your cell phone on – As crazy as this sounds, many people will leave their cell phone turned on during an interview.  In fact, there are many stories of people answering their phone or returning a text message during an interview.  It’s best if you leave your phone in your car during the interview.

4.    Being too focused on yourself – Remember that during the interview process the employer is looking for an applicant who will be a good fit for the organization and who can help the organization solve their problems.  If you are too focused on “what’s in it for me” or too desperate to get the job, you probably aren’t the right fit and you probably won’t get the job.

5.    Not being prepared for the interview – When preparing for a job you need to focus on two areas of preparation – researching the company and knowing how you’re going to answer the interview questions.  You will need to know the basics of the company, the job, and the people you’re interviewing with.  You will also need to be able to answer the basic interview questions about your qualifications.

6.    Bad mouthing your previous employer – Never bad mouth your previous employer, or anyone for that matter.  Only negative people will hire other negative people.  If you want to work for a good company, be positive and optimistic.  If you were fired from a previous job, it’s natural to feel anger and hurt.  Redirect any negative thoughts and resist the temptation to make negative comments.  Rise above these temptations and ace your interview.

7.    Not making eye contact – Making eye contact shows the employer that you’re confident and competent.  A lack of eye contact shows insecurities and makes you look like you have something to hide.  Don’t get in a staring contest, but having the appropriate amount of eye contact is important.  Making eye contact with people is something that you can practice and improve upon.

After several hours of research, Cynthia became aware of the seven mistakes that people commonly make during a job interview.  As her interview approached, she made sure that she was properly prepared, that she was dressed appropriately, and she knew where the interview site was.  When she arrived at the interview, she made sure she left her cell phone in the car!

Ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process.  In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his new book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Editionat www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.

 

Selling Your Strengths and Skills

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

 

Rudy entered the room and was introduced to the members of the search committee.  After some pleasantries, the interview began.  Right off the bat, Rudy was asked – “What strengths would you bring to this position and why should we hire you?”  Rudy was prepared for this question and was eloquent in his response.  But this wasn’t always the case.  Rewind a year earlier when Rudy was interviewing for a similar position.  The “strengths and skills” question came up and Rudy wasn’t prepared.  He stumbled, bumbled and continued to ramble on.  A bit embarrassed by his lack of preparation, Rudy vowed to never let this happen again.  He conducted research into how he should properly handle this question and here’s what he found.

 

Being asked about your strengths and weaknesses, or your skills and abilities, is almost a certainty in your interviews.  When you understand your personal assets, and can effectively communicate them, you are able to present yourself in the best possible light. This is critically important if you are going to have a successful interview.  So how do you uncover your strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities?

 

As Rudy researched this topic, he found that there are many self-assessment instruments that will help you to uncover your strengths and skills.  He referred to the book “Getting Hired in College Sports”, which has four self-assessments that prepare you for this question.  These four assessments will help you to discover:

  • Your likes and dislikes with regard to sports-related occupations
  • Your basic skills (i.e. computer skills, communication skills, speaking skills, etc.)
  • Your people skills (i.e. ability to lead or manage, persuasion skills, friendliness, teamwork, etc.)
  • Your Personal skills (i.e. dependability, integrity, work ethic, etc.)
  • Your thinking skills (i.e. creative thinking, problem-solving skills, etc.)
  • Your motivated strengths
  • Your knowledge-base skills (i.e. accounting skills, sales abilities, etc.)
  • Your transferable skills (i.e. writing skills, computer skills, etc.)
  • Your personal traits (i.e. achievement oriented, honesty, etc.)

 

By discovering your strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities, you will be able to really sell yourself to a search committee.  In his recent interview, Rudy was able to answer this “strengths and skills” question very well and he had a great interview.  A week later, he was offered the job and Rudy is happily employed.  It took an embarrassing interview and extensive research in order for him to learn, and ultimately, to ace his interview.  Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities is necessary so you can effectively sell yourself, and your personal assets, in your cover letters, during your interview and in your follow-up letters.

 

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 

 

 

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at www.SportsCareersInstitute.com.