Step 1: Know everything about the industry
“As a career starter today, I must be absolutely optimally informed; that is what companies expect”, says Andy Gugenheimer, the boss of sportyjob.com and cooperation partner of the ISPO JOB MARKET. Therefore, read the specialist sports press in print or online form – and not only popular media such as “Kicker” & Co., but also the genuine industry services such as sportsbusiness.com and others. Also, the economic news in sporting matters.
“It brings advantages in the job interview, if I, as a career starter, am already very knowledgeable about the market in which the company moves. And this also helps me to recognize trends early, in relation to the products that are in demand and correspondingly where new jobs shall be created. Such as, currently, in the trend relating to digitization”, says Gugenheimer.
Step 2: Self-marketing and networking
According to Gugenheimer, anyone who wishes to enter the sports business must also be present in the industry, which is to say, they must “leave a scent trail”. In doing this, creating convincing profiles on Xing and LinkedIn is the first step. The next step would be to have your own sports blog and a corresponding Twitter account. What should you write about? Of course, about everything that is happening in the industry (see Step 1), how you evaluate these things and what you find cool. In doing this, an exchange with other young sports enthusiasts will develop naturally - and perhaps, also, with professionals as well.
In this way, your first network will arise; sooner or later this can also be helpful in finding a job. Especially, however, you become “visible” with your enthusiasm for sport, when human resources specialists or other hiring decision makers Google the applicants. Then they will also see that the candidate can take the initiative themselves and that they throw themselves into reaching their goals – which is then also, of course, in demand in the job.
Step 3: Approach people
Andy Gugenheimer has already carried out several hundred interviews with applicants. He also knows the things that human resources managers and directors value particularly highly: “Grades are of secondary importance. Companies expect, above all, that an applicant will present themselves in a confident way. That you do not have to worm everything out of them. Charisma wins.”
In his experience, the female applicants have an advantage here: “They want to move forwards and often have a high level of mental fitness. The young men should definitely take the ladies as an example!” Gugenheimer sees himself as the best example there. “As a young man, I was also shy and I started right at the bottom and I strung tennis racquets. However, the more interested in the industry that I became, and the more I informed myself at trade fairs such as ISPO MUNICH, the more I got into conversation with people and I thawed out.”
Therefore: Get out of your shell; become familiar with the wide world of sports and not only through your laptop and smartphone. But visit events, meet people, talk shop and gain more and more confidence in doing so. Also, an excellent Forum for this is the seminars provided by ISPO.
Step 4: Look for a suitable employer
Anyone who has gained drive and charisma, is already active in self-marketing and is optimally informed about the industry can then pounce on the object of their desires: A suitable employer. Andy Gugenheimer definitely appreciates the well-known industry giants: “There, the advantages to the applicant is that they will become familiar with very professional structures, that there are roadmaps for trainees there, for how people are promoted and developed further. This does have many advantages.”
However: Especially at the start of a career, Gugenheimer states that it would be valuable to take a sideways look at smaller, dynamic companies and start-ups. “These often give career starters very good opportunities”, as the human resources expert knows well. “Anyone who proves themselves there can develop much more quickly than in large firms and can quickly climb up to the level after the next one!” According to Andy Gugenheimer, a good example of this is the Swiss manufacturer of running shoes, “On”. The company started at ISPO MUNICH with the entry into a clearly defined market and is currently expanding very strongly, looking for Product Managers, Web Developers and Technical Representatives.
Finally, it also depends on the personality of the applicant, whether they wish to embark on such an “adventure” and the career boost that is possible here. Or whether they are looking for the safety of a large company – with many opportunities, but also the option of becoming only a smaller cog in the wheel.
Step 5: Focus on relationships (in German, this is called “Vitamin B”, for “Beziehungen”, the German word for relationships)
Anyone who has determined their direction can search for corresponding offers in the ISPO JOB MARKET and find attractive offers from companies ranging from large providers to start-ups. And parallel to this, one can search for where new positions will surely arise – and apply there. In doing this, a “trump card” can be the initial network that one has built up – even though this might be small at first. “Many jobs are of course offered through relationships, through ‘Vitamin B’”, as Andy Gugenheimer knows.
Therefore, directly ask LinkedIn friends or human resources managers who are linked to you via a Xing contact, whether they are currently looking for career starters with the profile that you yourself have. Gugenheimer states: “Much can also be done in an internship or a job that you do alongside your studies. If you work as a sales person in a sports shop, for example, and build up connections with the representatives from the sales division of the manufacturer. They will also be pleased to recommend you, if you make a positive impression there.”
A further tip, also, about how career starters can get onto the right career path through relationships: Many universities and also industry associations offer mentoring programs. Definitely take advantage of these! Besides, “old hands”, who support young, aspiring people and provide them with expertise, are the best door openers of all!