Why Athletes Make Great Employees

16 Secondary Reasons for Your Success

Athletes in companies are universally respected as high performers, and it is no coincidence that more than 80 percent of the female executives at Fortune 500 companies described themselves as former athletes. Companies seek employees who can stand out in pressure situations, demonstrate leadership, and react positively to the instruction of superiors. The experience of participating on a competitive team is also a tremendously valuable advantage in the work environment. The understanding of team dynamics and roles, knowing when to step up or when to let someone else step up, and collaboration are also all desired. If you come from team sports, you have already been exposed to workplace dynamics.


  • Results oriented
  • Focused
  • Handles pressure well
  • Always striving to improve
  • Coachable and willing to learn
  • Knows how to execute a game plan
  • Aggressive or assertive
  • Strong work ethic
  • Understands importance of preparation
  • High energy level
  • Strong character
  • Self-motivated
  • Able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously
  • Can make pressure decisions
  • Understands accountability
  • Seeks and loves a challenge


10 Primary Reasons Why Athletes Make Great Employees (Cont.)

6.)  Persistence and endurance.

These characteristics are often characterized by long and hard work toward distant rewards and the ability to wring a maximum effort from yourself whenever necessary. As a student, this may mean overcoming a difficult personal experience. As an athlete, it may include playing while in pain or performing under other adverse circumstances. The candidate with the athlete skill set believes intensity of effort and sufficient preparation and determination will eventually pay off.


7.)  Loyalty.

Loyalty emerges from the bond that an individual builds with an organization, a team, or to another individual and is expressed in the willingness to support team efforts under any circumstances. Loyalty contributes to the morale of a team or work group because it enables each team member to trust that others will work toward the same ends. Since you come from the world of athletics, which is an organizational culture that values loyalty and teamwork, you are more likely to fit in a multitude of organizational cultures in the work world.


8.)  Discipline.

Organizing one’s time, adhering to guidelines, giving maximum effort on a regular basis, concentrating one’s energies, and screening out competing priorities are all necessary in being a successful student or successful athlete. The systematic application of one’s energies toward a desired goal is highly valued in any work setting.


9.)  Ability to take criticism.

Because their performance on the field is watched closely, student-athletes are accustomed to taking criticism. Good coaches recommend changes and develop in their athletes the ability to cope with the feeling that they could have done better. Athletes typically develop into good listeners when constructive criticism is offered because they recognize its value in helping them advance toward overall goals.


10.)  Resilience.

Certain life experiences, as well as college sports, can offer continued opportunities to test yourself and then come back for more, whether you succeed or fail. No one who competes in a sport can avoid the experience of failure. Student-athletes learn to face failure and bury any negative feelings because tomorrow’s contest demands their full attention. Among the most valuable lessons of collegiate athletics are how to win, how to lose, and how to rebound from both.


10 Primary Reasons Why Athletes Make Great Employees

There are many traits that are common within highly competitive athletes. In fact, there are over twenty-five of them. But there are ten principle characteristics that define the athlete skill set and are components of excellent team players. These are also the ten primary characteristics that companies look for in making their hiring decisions.


These ten traits are largely acquired through a combination of personal life experiences including academic, athletic, social, and whatever previous community, volunteer, or work experiences you possess. When you have exhibited many of these important characteristics and can effectively communicate examples, you not only show great life balance to prospective employers, but you can also leverage your life experiences and your strengths and demonstrate exactly why you are destined for future success—and why you should be the one they hire.


1.)   Ability to organize time well.

As a well-rounded student, you participated in extracurricular activities like athletics, Greek, or other student organizations, social functions, and a full academic load. The commitment to athletics (which oftentimes includes year-round participation, travel to other schools for games and other team activities) requires a refined development of time management skills… to remain eligible, to compete effectively, to graduate and, most importantly, so you don’t get in trouble with the coach.


2.)  Ability to work well with others.

As a student, your “teaming” experiences within group projects goes a long way. Through athletic team membership, most student-athletes become very familiar with the experience of working toward group goals. Teaming experiences teach that sometimes it is necessary to submerge one’s ego and personal goals into the goals of the organization, and that leadership is the ability to get people to work as a team.


3.)  Goal directedness.

As a student, one must maintain focus despite distractions to succeed academically. Student-athletes develop the ability to concentrate their energies and attention over an extended period of time to block out distractions while they proceed toward their goals. Whether it is staying on an academic graduation track, managing a four-month competition season, or increasing your individual skills, the ability of staying on-goal is very valuable to employers.


4.)  Competitiveness.

Competitive spirit is the lifeblood of the collegiate athletics experience. Student-athletes gain experience in the rigors of winning and losing, and they look forward to the opportunity to fight more battles, test their abilities, and risk their self-esteem against tough opposition. This is a strong asset in most jobs.


5.)  Confidence.

The candidate with the athlete skill set has continually been in situations where they must pump up and believe in their own power to produce effectively under pressure. The ability to approach tough performance situations with the belief that you’ll do well is crucial. Practice in maintaining self-confidence (especially under tense circumstances) can carry over to on-the-job challenges.


2-Skills You Need to Possess

We live in a skill-based society where individuals market their skills to employers in exchange for money, position, and power. As an athlete, you have acquired many skills through athletic competition that are transferable to the workplace and your career. Unfortunately, few athletes can identify and talk about their skills, even though they possess many different types of skills. This becomes a real problem when they must write a resume or present a good job interview. Since employers want to know about your specific abilities and skills, you must be able to both identify and communicate your skills. You should be able to explain what it is you do well and provide relevant examples directed at employers’ needs.


Most people possess two distinct types of skills that define their competency strengths as well as enable them to enter and advance within the job market:

1.            Work content skills

2.            Functional skills


These skills become the key language for communicating your qualifications to employers in your resumes and letters as well as in interviews.


Work content skills are mainly acquired through experience rather than formal training and can be communicated through general vocabulary. Sometimes the title of your job is enough communicate work content skills, but generally, these skills involve doing things: repairing air-conditioners, building a house, developing a website, staffing a retail store, or cooking fast food.


Functional transferable skills are less easy to recognize and are linked to a certain personal characteristics (energetic, intelligent, likeable) and the ability to deal with processes (communicating, problem-solving, or motivating). Many athletes may lack work content skills, but they possess numerous functional transferable skills. In contrast to work content skills, these functional skills can be transferred from one job to the next, one career to the next, and are very valuable to prospective employers.


A major objective of any good career development plan or successful job search is developing awareness of your functional skills so you can relate them to the job market.

‘Asset List’ Acquired from Your Sports Participation

Having worked with thousands of athletes that have made the successful transition to a career, I have observed a number of recurring facts that prove to me the belief that successful, highly competitive athletes are an asset to any workforce or career: First and foremost among these attributes is an individual’s motivation level. If you were a motivated athlete, chances are you will carry that important skill into your career.


Being a part of a team and competing competitively is one of the most important keys to success in the workplace. If you were on a team and enjoyed the experience, you will excel nicely in a career setting. Sports not only brings you into a teamwork atmosphere, but it also drives your work ethic at an early age. On a baseball diamond, for instance, you can quickly tell who has been working hard and who has been lazy. Sports brings out your leadership qualities, which, in turn, creates a sense of confidence for a person in the business world. Not all athletes are just “dumb jocks,” and they deserve respect in the business world; because many of them maintained a very high GPA in school while practicing some type of sport at least thirty hours a week—no easy feat.


One of the greatest perspectives you have probably gained as a competitive athlete is the understanding very early in life of what hard work, dedication, and believing in your dream actually means, as well as how your participation can benefit the larger group. Sports may build character, but I suggest that people bring the character that is already formed within them to their sports activity, rather than the other way around. If you were a successful athlete, it’s because you already had character in the first place. In my experience, however, team sports in many ways do help shape your character.


In sports, winning is everything, and this competitive spirit may inevitably devolve into abusive behavior and a “win at any cost” mentality. You may not agree with that, but in the absence of any definitive studies on the subject, I believe that winning does not always equate to the better person or better group of individuals. Winning, after all, is a surrogate for survival. The best survivor wins. So, business success derived from sports participation means we’ve bred a better predator. Sports can be viewed as socially acceptable predatory behavior.