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Athletic coaching resumes: How to stand out and get noticed

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

Coaching resume tips, tricks, and secrets to help high school and college coaches stand out in a competitive job market

The best coaches are proficient creating game and practice plans, recruiting top talent, and turning average athletes into impact performers.

They are often not skilled at writing resumes.

And that's no surprise, as good coaches are focused on building their program, developing talent, and creating a winning culture.

But there is a time when every coach either must apply for a new job, or wants to apply for a dream job. And no matter how much success a coach has had, whether at the high school or college level, they are still going to need a resume to apply for the job because of compliance reasons.

The reality is, to get noticed and get an interview, the coaching resume must showcase how the coach can make an impact at the next program, not just list what they did with their past program.

And that’s why athletic coaching resume needs to highlight much more than winning and/or individual coaching honors.

How to write an athletic coaching resume

I wrote the Jobscan article How to Write an Athletic Coaching Resume. In that article Kevin Buisman, Director of Athletics at Minnesota State University, Mankato, an NCAA DII school (with Division I men's and women's hockey) said most collegiate athletic directors understand they are likely going to receive several resumes from a number of highly qualified candidates from an X’s and O’s standpoint.

So coaching resumes need to include the information that can separate them from the other coaches. This is especially true for head and assistant coaching jobs at smaller colleges and universities where budgets are tight, staffs are smaller, but the expectations are just as high. This is especially true with programs – at both the high school and college level - looking to shake things up, going through changes, and/or needing someone to come in and energize the community or school, not just the team and its players.

“What separates candidates at the collegiate level is the ability to demonstrate success beyond the coaching aspect of the job,” Buisman said. “Does the resume showcase their ability to fundraise, work within a budget, and handle alumni relations and PR for the program? Can they sell the program to recruits and generate fan interest? Have they demonstrated they can hire the right assistant coaches and round out their staff?”

The same goes for assistant coaches seeking head college coaching jobs, and for high school coaches seeking assistant or head high school coaching jobs. Today's Athletics Director wants to hire a coach who can run a program the right way while developing student-athletes.

Coaching resumes: How to get noticed and stand out

It's no secret some coaches can get interviews based on name and previous success (translation: winning). Many other coaches get interviews because of their connections to a high school or college/university (alumni for example), or because they are well-connected and know the right people. It's also no secret many Athletic Directors have a list of alumni or area coaches they would consider on a short list. So that's why it's even more important for coaches to create a resume that sells them as the right person for the job. They have to get the resume through the system and read by the AD or other key players (HR staff, for example).

I can help you achieve that with a proven system that uses keywords listed in a job description, backed by success stories, to help your resume get past an applicant tracking system and/or read by a human. Some of the best coaches are up-and-comers who have all the potential in the world, but may never get to show it because their resume doesn’t showcase the impact they can make. So they never get an interview.

In the Jobscan article I also reached out to Mike Clayton, Manager of the National Coaches Education Program for USA Wrestling. Prior to that Clayton was the head assistant coach for Division I Army (West Point, N.Y.) and head coach at Division III Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, N.J.).

Coaching resume tips: Look beyond wins and individual honors

At Stevens Institute, Clayton was in charge of reviewing resumes and applications when hiring assistant coaches. He had a set budget, and looked for a number of key qualities of candidates when reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates.

“At each level I’ve worked at, we look for not just wrestling accomplishments, but the quality of the person,” says Clayton. “We can teach great people more about how to teach wrestling, but it is really hard to teach someone to be a good person and how to make good decisions.”

One thing is certain: Wrestling credentials certainly play a part in the hiring decision, but it shouldn’t be the end all in the decision, says Clayton. That holds true in all sports: Soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, football, basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, golf, cross country, track and field, and more.

Clayton expanded on this in the MatBoss article I wrote titled How to write a wrestling coaching resume.

“I’ve passed on candidates who had great ‘wrestling’ resumes (credentials), because what we were looking for was a mentor and coach, not just a great wrestler,” says Clayton. “As a staff gets bigger, you can hire specialty assistants who can focus on training, but be careful, hiring someone just on athletic ability can backfire quickly if they can’t make decisions that mesh with program values.”

What are some other things to highlight on a coaching resume?

In the Jobscan article I highlighted several areas that coaches can focus on when applying for an assistant college or high school coaching position, such as ways you can make an impact in the things most important to running an entire program. In college, showcase recruiting success, how you’ve made an impact with certain positions/players, and by highlighting examples of organizational and administrative skills. Assistants may also be working with booster club contacts, organizing travel schedules, setting up fundraisers, sending recruiting letters or responding to emails, and working with a certain group of players while the head coach manages practice, game plans, and more.

Office work is also part of the game at the college level, Clayton said.

"Coaches want assistants who can fill in and add value in areas where the head coach is not as proficient," says Clayton. "Again, look for examples of what is required of the assistant in the job description and showcase where you have made an impact in those areas. Don’t try and wow with won-loss record alone."

Head coaches need to show how they can manage a program, develop talent, recruit in a competitive market, and also work with administrators, boosters, and alumni. Assistant coaches need to showcase how they can add value where perhaps the head coach is weaker. A head basketball coach who has helped the team lead the conference in scoring the past five years may be looking for a defensive-minded assistant who can help improve the team on defense. Or perhaps is skilled working with post players. A softball coach may excel at developing pitchers, but wants to find an assistant coach who can improve the teams hitting.

It's hard for many coaches to come up with the results and information needed, and then write that in a way that sells them as the right person for the job. Hiring a resume writer to write your athletic coaching resume can provide an outside person who can take an inside look at your experience and coaching history, and find those hidden achievements you struggle to highlight. A good resume writer can ask the right questions and dig deep to get the information needed to showcase all of your successes – beyond wins and losses. And they can then take that information, condense it into short sentences that make an impact and tell your story. Many coaches struggle with condensing their many credentials into language athletic directors and HR want to read on a resume.

I can help you achieve that. I have 15+ years of experience writing resumes, and have worked with high school and college coaches seeking that next job, or who want to apply for that dream opportunity. I’ve researched what athletic directors and decision makers look for when reviewing head coaching resumes. I also have a background in sports writing, and know how to ask the right questions to get more information, and the right information for the job. I know how to read job descriptions to determine what specific criteria the AD is looking for. Don’t have a specific job you want to apply for? No problem – I can still showcase those important keywords and successes to help you stand out.

As a coach, you don't settle for mediocre. You demand players go the extra mile, and know that extra effort is what leads to success. So why would you expect to achieve success submitting a mediocre resume?

Cost of an athletic coaching resume is $300 for high school coaches and $450 for college coaches. If you're a high school coach seeking a college coaching job, that falls into the college coaching category. All packages include a phone call to help learn more about your background, successes, and most important, goals. I’ll also write a customized cover letter that can be interchanged for each coaching job. I will also ask you to complete a simple word document to answer more questions. By the time we are done, you will be energized and motivated to apply for that next coaching job.

Ready to get started? Have more questions? Contact me today

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