Strategies For Planning Your Career

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Thomas will be graduating with a degree in Sports Management at the end of the school year. Trying to get a jump on his competition, he decided to visit with a career counselor on campus and find out what is the best way for him to plan his career within the sports industry.

The career counselor shared with Thomas a step-by-step process that will help guide him as he begins to plan a career toward becoming a Division I athletic director. This formula for planning your career includes four steps and several strategies on how you should plan and position yourself for your dream job. Once you have identified your dream job, the formula has you work backwards and identify the type of job that will eventually position you for your next job. These steps and strategies include:

Step One: Identifying Your Dream Job. This includes identifying the following elements,

  • Type of Position (e.g. athletic director)
  • Industry (e.g. college level)
  • Type of Institution (e.g. Public/Private, 2-year/4-year)
  • Level of Competition (e.g. NCAA Division I)
  • Where You Want to Live (e.g. region of the country)
  • Size of the Community (e.g. urban or rural)

As you continue on in this four-step process, you will want to research which organizations meet the above criteria for your career.

Step Two: How To Get There. As you plan for your dream job, you will want to research and identify the type of education, experience, and skills you will need in order to be hired for this position.

Step Three: Positioning Yourself.  Working backwards, what type of positions will lead to your dream job? The assumption is that you are just beginning your career and that your dream job is approximately 10-15 years into the future. This also assumes that it will take approximately four career moves before you reach your dream job. These assumptions will change depending upon where you currently are in your career. Therefore, it might only take two moves instead of four. With this in mind, work backwards from your “dream” situation in step one, and identify what the logical job would be that could lead to your dream job. This is your “One-Position Removed” job.

Continue on with this format and identify the type of employment that would lead to your one-position removed job. This is your “Two-Positions Removed” job. Continue with this process by identifying your 2-Year Career Goal. Your 2-year goal should lead to your “Two-Positions Removed” job and is the job you want to secure within the next two years.

Step Four: Your Current Situation. In this step you will list your current position and then identify the strategies you need to employ in order to become hired into your next position within two years. These strategies can include:

  • Repositioning yourself within the industry
  • Obtaining an entry level Job
  • Staying in your current position and begin a networking plan
  • Volunteer to gain experience
  • Attend Graduate/Undergraduate School
  • Complete an internship (paid or unpaid)
  • Find a mentor who can give you perspective and advice

These four steps have given Thomas some insight that will help him to properly plan his career. If fact, he now has a better idea of what type of job he should be looking for when he graduates in May.


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 or his new book Execute for Success at  


The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s