You are ready to enter a highly competitive, exciting field: the sports world. After a short amount of time, you realize that finding a job in sports is incredibly challenging, despite having completed your educational requirements.
Sports jobs aren’t the only type of work that’s hard to find. In general, job searches can be quite stressful and frustrating, but it is especially hard when you’re looking to enter a niche industry. No matter where your career takes you, whether it’s in sports, software development or healthcare, you need to be strategic about finding opportunities and setting yourself apart from the crowd.
Here’s how to stand out and earn attention in a niche industry.
Too many job seekers rely on merely scrolling job boards and applying to dozens of openings all week. This method is inefficient, especially in a niche industry. Employers notice talent who demonstrate a keen understanding of their organization.
My company, JobsInSports, conducted a survey and found that employers consider the most important aspects of their company that candidates should understand to be the company’s core values, vision, products and services provided, and their mission statement.
In other words, employers in niche industries want candidates who truly have a grasp of what their company is about. This knowledge also helps you determine how you fit in with the culture and how you can provide value for a purpose you believe in.
Start researching potential employers. Use LinkedIn to get a look at their company culture. Their company page may include photos of their workplace, employee testimonials, what causes they support, and an overview of their values and mission. Also use LinkedIn to find possible connections you have with current employees.
If you don’t have connections, try to make some. Look for where their employees engage—and get involved. For example, if you’re looking for sports-related jobs in marketing, and you are researching a sports marketing agency, look for LinkedIn Groups employees belong to and get involved in discussions. This will help you stand out and get their attention.
Submitting applications shouldn’t be a task you do mechanically. Be mindful and fully invested in presenting your value in the best way.
My company’s survey also found what employers rank as the most important elements of a job application. These factors include how the candidate meets educational and experience requirements, whether or not they provide a list of references, and if their résumé is tailored to the role and company. What’s more, 84 percent say a cover letter is crucial for candidates to demonstrate their value.
When you’re researching the employer, you need to look at how you stack up against the open role. Ensure you meet their requirements and can show relevant experience before applying. After all, our survey found that the top deal breakers that turn employers away are a lack of relevant experience and failure to meet the requirements.
Start tailoring your résumé and cover letter to demonstrate how you can bring value to the role.
Start tailoring your résumé and cover letter to demonstrate how you can bring value to the role. Niche industries often attract a lot of talented people, so you need to stand out and avoid getting lost in an employer’s applicant tracking system.
Use keywords from the job description in your application. When you’re applying to sports jobs in marketing and the posting includes phrases like “excellent customer service” and “knowledge of HTML and CSS,” use these exact phrases. If you meet these requirements, highlight them in concise, bulleted points.
This technique will get your résumé in front of hiring managers, and an awesome cover letter can help develop a deeper connection with the employer and provide a fuller perspective of who you are.
Employers in niche industries see a lot of top talent on a regular basis. Even if you check all the boxes, you may still only be one of many qualified applicants. Fortunately, you can earn more attention in other relevant ways.
Our survey found that there are several ways employers prefer to see candidates stand out in a niche job market. The top responses included candidates who join professional organizations, comment on industry discussion boards, share industry content on social media, comment on industry blogs, and engage in both LinkedIn and Facebook groups.
To put it simply, start networking, continue to educate yourself and build a robust online presence to share your expertise. Professional organizations are an integral part of this approach—you can expand your network, learn from others and share your knowledge.
The bottom line is, employers are going to dig deep into who you are and determine why you are a strong candidate. Use your online presence to be undeniable to them.