Swimming in the job pool

Sport Business News

Salient tips for the sports job hunter courtesy of Mickey Charles, president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US.

"Everyone is trying to jump into the pool. And it is getting crowded, very crowded. We are speaking here of the job pool. My country, yours, the world, is deteriorating faster than a glass of water left out in the sun of the Mojave Desert. It is a malaise that the infamous and seemingly unknown 'they' are predicting will cure itself in the months to come. It will not. It will infest like a swarm of locusts eyeing a fresh field of growth for at least another year, into 2010. That is why there is more water needed for the pool. Those diving in and splashing about, trying to stay afloat, are displacing that which our bodies need so desperately. The water converts to job opportunities where you are concerned and the folks seeking them have lowered their expectancy levels considerably. Today, they are more than content to swim in the kiddie section where the levels are three to four feet. That is good for you and, at the same time, it is bad. You will send out 'help wanted' missives and place ads on the internet detailing your needs. The CVs will pour in and the first step will be to weed them out since you will attract applicants from every walk of life. Trust me on that one. We have done it. We have attorneys who believe themselves to be journalists because they watch games at home. Those seeking technology positions whose backgrounds include owning a laptop and being able to text to their friends. Administrative help that worked at McDonald's and kept track of how many hamburgers and fries were consumed daily. It becomes mind–boggling. What you find included in a resume, the average one, usually dates back to one's days at summer camp in the position of counsellor for children, working in a shoe store at an early age since some misguided soul advised him or her not to leave anything out. The proverbial needle in a haystack awaits and, sometimes, not often, it is worth the effort. Did they include salary sought? Did you clearly stipulate that no one will be considered without this information? And, when the interview finally occurs, was one of the first things they asked about how much they would earn and what were your benefits? The interview should be over at that point. If they start to indicate what they 'need' and use that word in their opening conversation with you, or when it comes down to dollars, Euros, pounds, francs, lire, etc. , there is nothing further to discuss. Qualifications dictate the outcome, not need. Need was precipitated by their own folly and lifestyle absent planning for the rainy day. Offer them an umbrella and tell them that it is pouring, not raining right now. Be wary of the fact that the person sitting opposite you, the one in dire straits at the moment, might be as temporary as your anticipation of winning the lottery the next day. If you are the holding pen for him or her, everyone will have wasted time, effort and dollars. How do you know? You do not. An employment agreement will not do it. These are not the days of involuntary servitude in the Colonies. It is a matter of experience, 'feeling' out the applicant and situation, noting longevity, or lack of it, with prior positions and, without using it as an illegal determinant, hiring based upon age, background and goals expressed. Ours is a specialised industry and is particularly focused on employment possibility for someone that loves sports, whether it is writing about it, researching, maintaining the accuracy of a literal plethora of statistical information, driving the technology that keeps it all together and being part and parcel of every segment of sports known to man on a 24–7 basis. Will we lose some staff to journalism elsewhere? More in the past than currently and, when we did, it was minimal. We have a top level management staff–approximately 15 men and women for whom well over 100 others work. All in management have been with us from 15 to 20+ years. Holding family members hostage and keeping a vault full of suggestive and evocative photos has not been easy but it has certainly helped. Just kidding!!!Our focus is on people with a genuine love for what we do, who want to pursue growth opportunities, who have backgrounds that mesh with what we do today and plan to accomplish tomorrow, people with a zest for accomplishment and advancement. We seek qualities that are epitomised by a relaxed nature, going with the flow, an ability to take the stress accompanying our particular pace at times and having an outer and inner skin that bends when need be and toughens up as the occasion demands. They must be smart, overflowing with common sense, possessed of a sense of humour and dedicated to a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they do. We have no margins for error. At interviews we have a clock strategically situated near the desk, facing the applicant, easy to read if and when necessary. It works at that time as well as when we have a business meeting with anyone from the outside. It eliminates the furtive glance at one's wrist, that which means 'How much longer is this going to last? ' When noticed, only seconds more. We want wives and husbands to be brought to the intended place of employment, to our office building and corporate headquarters, to know where their better half is going to work, to acquaint themselves with the surroundings and people, to go home and discuss it. We advise all that they will be spending more time with us than they will with their families and that our surroundings, our office complex, must be maintained at a level that equals the military and Mary Poppins...spit spot!We want to hear what someone is looking for in the future and less of what they have done in the past absent highlights of same. We want to learn of their aspirations and ambitions, their life's journey and the destination on the schedule. Somewhat ethereal and unachievable? Not really. Conversational and learning about someone? Absolutely. New pressed suit, clean shirt and tie that is worn only at weddings, christening and bar–mitzvahs not necessary. The discomfort of it is instantly recognisable as much as is the female attire usually reserved for church socials. Smart casual will do it. Jeans, sneakers and t–shirts will not. For some positions, older, family, settled, works just fine; for others, young, vibrant, exciting, bursting at the seams to break out is de rigueur. There is no single description that fits all, nor should there be at any company. CVs must not contain irrelevant nonsense. They must not contain that which is not true. Some folks talk about mystery places of prior employment and deeds that never took place so often that, eventually, even they convince themselves that they actually occurred. Watch out for those. People do not give references that will detail how lacking in talent they are so call others from their CV, the ones whose names and phone numbers, e–mail addresses are not provided. Over–achievers are welcome. Desire, interests and having checked out our company for familiarity with it before the interview go a long way on the 'impress me' list. Care for one's self and displaying a pleasing physical presence in today's health conscious world sends a positive message. Clearly indicating one's intentions, ambitions and aspirations portrays a thought process preceding the interview. Everyone thinks that they know sports because they are a fan of one sport or the other, or they played a particular sport or sports in their lifetimes. Flying does not make me a pilot, taking a train ride does not qualify me as an engineer, a cruise does not credential one as a captain of a vessel. Got the message? In our industry, that of sports, regardless of the venue chosen, the competitive level is among the hardest to be found anywhere. That does not mean recoil in horror and look elsewhere. It just means be prepared, like the Boy Scouts. For both those seeking employment in sports, from companies like The Sports Network to Wembley Stadium, and those who are adding to their staff(s), the pool is overflowing and watering the flowers around the periphery of it thanks to the number of folks in the swim. Tough to compete for space and often even tougher to assist someone that wants to get out. A closing word of caution...and you can do as you wish on the heels of it. Employment agencies are not, in my humble opinion, the way to go. It is simply not worth it...they are peddling people regardless of the elimination process they claim to pursue in each case. It is a commission business and they are salespeople. There are usually no refunds. Headhunters do not, normally, furnish the entire body of the person. But, if your experience with them has been good...seeking a job or looking for someone to fill one, knock yourself out. There is no panacea but there is a pool, a big one right now. Go on, jump in!!!"For further information about The Sports Network, visit www. sportsnetwork. com. 2200 Byberry Rd. Hatboro, PA 19040 Tel: +1 (215) 441–8444 Fax: +1 (215) 441–5767