Career Advice

“All I Really Needed to Know about Finding a Job I Learned While Being Recruited for College”

ncsa dev team

Student-athletes at the end of their college career may feel a sense of déjà vu as they prepare to enter the workforce. The process of finding a job will seem familiar to what they experienced when choosing a college. Both are highly competitive. Just as student-athletes are competing against hundreds of candidates for a shot at a scholarship and roster spot, so will the new job applicant be among the scores of candidates who have submitted their resume for a sought-after position.  At times, both processes can seem overwhelming and intimidating (and yes, frustrating). 

NCSA has helped tens of thousands of student-athletes step-by-step through the college recruiting process, from filling out a recruitment profile to negotiating a scholarship. Skills they successfully developed to be recruited and earn a scholarship can be re-deployed to help new grads (athletes or not) find their first job. 

Create your target company list

Choosing a college is not just a four-year decision; it’s a lifetime decision. The same maxim applies to finding that first job out of college. Where to begin? Do the research. Remember creating a list of target schools (5 safety schools, 10 target schools and 5 reach schools)? The same strategy can be used to hone the search for target companies. Finding job openings on Glassdoor is only the beginning; care must be taken to determine whether the opportunity is the right fit. What are the job responsibilities? What skillsets does the job require? What is the potential for growth with the company? Will this job get you where you want to go? Will you get the workplace equivalent of “playing time” or be relegated to the bench? These and other factors must be taken into consideration before submitting an application. Just as they did for colleges, applicants should thoughtfully compile a list of companies for which they match all the requirements, promising opportunities for which they are a solid—but not a complete–match and even aspirational “reach” companies.  

Level set priorities

Salary is generally the key issue for job applicants in deciding for which company they want to work. But there are other important factors to consider. The same types of questions student-athletes weighed when narrowing down their college search are just as relevant when considering a company. These questions deal with more subjective factors that need to be taken into account in determining whether a company is a good match.  We always emphasize to athletes that they should choose a college at which they would be happy even if they weren’t playing their sport. By the same token, job-seekers should consider the big picture beyond salary in making a decision about where to work.

Before applying, check out the company’s website. What is the size of the company? How many employees are there? Is it well-established or a start-up? Where is it located? Is it an easy commute? What is the company culture? What is its philosophy regarding work-life balance?  Does it offer employees flexible hours? Does the company prioritize giving back to the community? Job applicants need to be honest in answering these questions to make sure they would be happy in that environment. 


When working with student-athletes in their college search, we recommend they enlist their current coach to help them get on a coach’s radar. This is networking 101 and it is even more essential when looking for a job. At NCSA, creating a free recruiting profile is the first step in the college search and getting the evaluation process started. Entering the job market, a LinkedIn profile can similarly help put you on an employer’s radar. LinkedIn is also an essential resource in finding and nurturing contacts to help move the job hunt forward. 

Mastering the recruiting process helped land the student-athlete their dream college. Those same skills are just as relevant can help land your dream job.


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