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You’re got what they want – 6 marketable skills athletes should put on their resume

You retired from your sports career and now you’re left wondering…what marketable skills do I have to offer the working world? As an athlete, what skills do I put on my resume? After competing for so many years on the field, looking for a job after retiring from sport can leave you feeling unsure of your qualifications.

When I retired from soccer, I had no idea how my soccer skills and experience translated to a resume, let alone the real working world. Especially because I didn’t think I wanted a traditional career in sports – I didn’t want to be a sports commentator or soccer coach.

What the heck did I have to offer?

Well, it turns out, quite a bit. I’m here today to tell you that elite athletes have a lot to offer prospective employers.

Through talking to more experienced folks and employers themselves, I learned there were several important skills I, as an athlete, picked up through soccer that employers found extremely valuable. Fast forward through my career, and I’ve honed this list of skills based on my own experience, employer research, and other former athletes’ experiences.

Here are six valuable skills to put on your resume to land your next job:

1. You’re adaptive and agile. As an athlete, you get feedback from your coach, teammates, trainers, heck, even the physical therapist. Feedback is part of the every day job. Your superpower? You can take constructive feedback, not take it personally, and immediately implement it. In the feedback centric working world we live in today, employers want to hire employees who take feedback well and can adapt and implement it quickly. I’ve had several managers tell me throughout my career, “You receive feedback really well. You’re extremely coachable, and you can adapt to any circumstance.”

2. Teamwork. You have an incredible instinct on how to work with others towards a common goal. As you know, athletes live in a world of goals: score x goals this season, win the league, run sub x minutes on that mile time. You also know how to work effectively with others to achieve the common goal - whether it be winning the championship or hitting the company revenue goal.

3. Work ethic. You know what it’s like to give everything you’ve got to achieve. You’ll sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears, literally, to make it happen on the field. Have complete confidence that you have the drive, dedication, and persistence to get. it. done., whether that’s out on the court, or giving a sales pitch at a company.

4. Thriving from failure. As an athlete, you’re constantly learning from your failures (because they happen to all of us!). You’re a pro at leveraging your mistakes as learnings on how to get better next time, for the next rep, for the next game. Employers love that. Instead of hanging your tail between your legs, calling out reasons from a-z on why it didn’t happen, you know how to look at a mistake and turn it into a learning for next time. I’ve heard more than once from managers, “I never have to tell you the same thing twice. You take missed opportunities and turn them around to quickly implement learnings.”

5. Time management. You know how to manage and prioritize your schedule. You did it all through school, figuring out how to focus at a high level in not one, but two areas of life - school and sport. Guess what? Time management is key for the constant inflow of projects, initiatives, and asks at work. Just like you successfully juggled your sport and classes at the same time, you can successfully juggle the constant re-prioritization of work at any company.

6. Performing under pressure. There’s 3 minutes left in the game, and you’re down by a goal. You can either lose your cool and enter panic mode, or you can stay calm, focused, and score a frickin’ goal. As an elite athlete, you not only had figure out how to perform under pressure, but you learned how to thrive under pressure - a must win game to advance in playoffs, a winding down shot clock with 2 points to go, or a penalty kick that will make or break the win. At work, there will be deadlines, last minute changes, and stressful moments. Your ability to stay calm, collected, and focused is key to success in those situations.

And there you have it. As an athlete, you’ve developed invaluable, marketable skills that employers are itching to have. For your next job application, add examples of these skills to your resume. Prior to a job interview, practice ahead of time on ways to weave these six skills into your talking points. Brainstorm an example or two of each, and why it’s important for the role.

You’ve got this.

Up next: we’ll explore how other athletes successfully leveraged their sports skills to land killer jobs.

Kirby is a former pro soccer player, creator, and coach who helps elite athletes figure out what’s next in life after sport. Learn more about her and her services at

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