I recently posted a blog on the 5 Reasons Employers Should Hire Swimmers. The post received nearly 80,000 views from swimmers all over the world.
I was surprised by many of the comments I received. For example, several said something like, “Thanks, I am now going to put my swimming career on my resume.” I was obviously wondering why it wasn’t already there, in bold print! Parents of swimmers often commented with statements like, “I am showing this to my daughter to demonstrate that hard work may help her succeed in a business career.” Again, I would have thought that was obvious.
In contrast, multiple successful swimmers got angry with me, suggesting that swimming success was based more on big feet, arm length, or other genetic factors. Perhaps as an excuse, they made remarks like, “I would have been in the Olympics if I had feet like Phelps or arms like Thorpe.” While genetics certainly is a factor in being successful in any sport, I believe that showing effort in the pool demonstrates a work ethic and determination that transfers to the workplace. While big feet aren’t an advantage in the boardroom, I believe swimmers should have an advantage when looking for a job.
With that being said, here are my top 3 suggestions to swimmers everywhere who may be entering the workforce or looking for a better opportunity.
1) Be Proud: Be proud of what you have accomplished in the pool. Maybe you never achieved a national ranking, but maybe you made a 400 IM final at the state championships, were selected for the relay team, or walked onto a college team and eventually earned a partial scholarship. Develop your own personal brand , and be prepared to discuss how your hard work in the water is a lot more grueling than your future work in an office. Employers want goal-oriented people like you who are willing to work. Show that you are conditioned to arrive early and will enthusiastically dive into any challenge.
2) Fix your resume and online profiles: Many of the people who commented on my blog were obviously looking for a job or would be soon. Some had resumes online, and others had LinkedIn profiles I could find, yet many didn’t sufficiently highlight their swimming. A quick Google search revealed that many of these people were actually quite accomplished collegiate level athletes. Especially for those swimming in college, you need to put more emphasis on your athletic career. Some merely listed “Four Year Collegiate Swimmer” in their interests. A random recruiter who was not a swimmer or college athlete does not realize the time commitment of the year-long, twice daily practices you likely endured. I would suggest listing Scholarship Athlete or something similar as one of your jobs, and describe the commitment you have made to your sport and school. You don’t want to appear to have less work experience during school than your non-swimming peers. You learned more about teamwork, dedication, goal-setting and commitment while swimming than you possibly could have learned waiting tables. A recruiter needs to see that in writing.
3) Network with swimmers: Swimming is like a giant international fraternity and sorority. Greek organizations like the TKEs or PKAs are great at leveraging their networks – why don’t you? There are literally millions of former swimmers in the workplace; they understand the commitment you have made and your passion for the sport. Reach out to them! Find them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or at the local Master’s practice. Find swimmers in management positions who may hire you or recommend you to others. I would be thrilled to hire hardworking dedicated individuals who were competitive swimmers, and I know that managers across the world share my opinion. In fact, one swimmer reached out to me from my previous blog and is starting work at Relus Technologies next week!
Be proud, describe your swim career, and start networking. I think you will be surprised at the number of former swimmers who will want to hire you!
Send me your resume: firstname.lastname@example.org