Sports Business Resume Advice

Through this website, I’ll often receive resumes from individuals looking to break into the sports industry (I’m actually thinking about adding a resume bank section to the website – I’ll revisit that idea in 2011).

Anyway, one particular resume that I received over the weekend had such a glaring flaw in it that I needed to share it here as a warning to all future sports business applicants.  Here’s the snippet of the offending resume (with identifying information removed)

Honors and Skills:

  • Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel Certification
  • XXXXX High School — Raider Award
  • Varsity Soccer Team Captain
  • Varsity Soccer Team XXXXX State Runner-Up
  • 2007, 2009, 2010 XXXXX Fantasy Football League Champion
  • 2009 Erin Andrews is Amazing Fantasy Football League Runner-up
  • 2008, 2009 XXXXX National Roto (Fantasy Baseball) and 2010 League Runner-up
  • 2009 XXXXX Fantasy Baseball League Champion (Manager of the Year/Silver Slugger)

The rest of the resume was fairly standard for a current undergraduate that is about to graduate but does not have any sports-specific experience yet. However, just because you don’t have sports experience, doesn’t mean that your fantasy sports success should go in a resume! There is absolutely NO situation where this type of information should be listed (except maybe if you are actually applying to be a fantasy sports analyst). On top of that, he actually listed a league called “Erin Andrews is Amazing” – even if the rest of his resume was good, there’s no way he can be taken seriously.

In addition, the items about his varsity soccer team being state runner-up (which I assume is from his high school playing days) has no place in a resume. The items about being a team captain or winning a team award don’t add any value unless you can provide some type of detail in how your experience as a high school team captain relates to the position you are applying for. In the current context, all this does it highlight that you are an athlete and a fan who still doesn’t understand how the industry works.

(Update: As an additional note, if you are currently a high school student or just graduated high school, then you have a lot more freedom to include items like this since you probably don’t have work experience yet. But if you are about to graduate from college, including these high school details would just make me wonder what you’ve been doing the past four years in college. Some people might think I’m being overly critical, but I want applicants to have the right perspective and put themselves in a position to succeed.)

I tweeted about this over the weekend, and people were stunned that someone would include this information in a resume. Unfortunately, I have seen this before, so I want all potential applicants to learn this lesson now and maybe we’ll stop seeing it in the future. Here is my top five list of items to keep out of any sports-related resume (and thanks to the folks on Twitter for contributing!)

  1. Your favorite team or sport
  2. How much of a fan you are
  3. Anything related to fantasy sports or video games
  4. Statistics from high school / college / amateur sports
  5. Typos and grammatical errors

What else would you add to this list? Share your own resume pet peeves in the comments.

Update –  More reader suggestions:

  • From @cannonjw:  Stupid emails, ie bootysnatcher8@[redacted].com, not appropriate (actually rec’d). Don’t care if you’re good @ snatching booty or not
  • From @JimOToole:  “I am passionate about sport….”

10 thoughts on “Sports Business Resume Advice

  • December 21, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Wow, that’s a new one, Russell, thanks for sharing! I think that’s the biggest misconception about the business of sports from those wanting to be on the inside… it isn’t about how big a fan you are, or how much time you spend on your fantasy league team, it’s about learning the ins and outs of what makes the business of sports different, and using that knowledge to succeed.

  • December 21, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Whilst I agree that the vast majority of what is included on this resume is ridiculous, I have always been encouraged to have a section on personal interests at the end of my resume. This includes sports-related interests including coaching, participation, and voluntary work. This person’s status as Varsity Soccer Team Captain shows experience of teamwork and leadership skills which could be transferable to the workplace – otherwise companies wouldn’t consider ex professional athletes either. The advice should be to use this information wisely.

  • December 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    If this guy is still in high school, or just a few years out, I have no problem with him including that he was a varsity captain and won the Raider Award (whatever that it). If he’s 35, or applying for anything higher up the ladder than an internship or the most entry-level of entry-level positions, bragging about his high school accomplishments isn’t going to help his cause. The rest of the garbage about the fantasy sports has no business being on a resume. At best, it should merit about 10 seconds near the end of an hour-long interview, and then only if the interviewer mentions it first.

  • December 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you for your perspectives on the resume items, particularly the high school sports experience. My biggest problem with that is listing them as skills and honors without any context, especially the line about “Varsity Soccer Team XXXXX State Runner-Up”. Your high school soccer team performance in itself doesn’t matter to me. However, if you feel that you exhibited leadership skills in guiding your team to success, then you need to provide that context, perhaps in a cover letter, but again, only if you can show that its relevant to the position.

    And yes, if this student is still in high school, then its more appropriate since they don’t have work experience. But this person is going to graduate from college next semester. By posting their high school athletic information, all they are doing is highlight that they haven’t gained any relevant experience in the last 4 years.

  • December 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I have adjusted one section of my post based on the feedback from all of you. I really appreciate the thoughts!

  • December 21, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I am surprised and have never seen those type of things in a resume before. I too am someone looking to get a job in the sports industry, without any sports industry experience and would love the ability to present my resume to this website. I would also love some suggestions in presenting a resume to get to into the sports industry without any prior experience in the industry.

  • December 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I have adjusted one section of my post based on the feedback from all of you. I really appreciate the thoughts!

  • December 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Good post Russell. I have seen some unreal resumes over time, but I can’t recall anything regarding fantasy sports. Wow.

    A couple comments. (1) I think winning an award and being a captain (leader) on a successful team isn’t such a bad thing to have on the resume. It is better than blank space, and may stick out (positively or negatively) to the person reading the resume. (2) There are a couple typos on the post that stuck out to me (especially considering number five on your top five list of items): (a) “resume back” probably should be “resume bank” (b) “Erin Andrews in” should be “Erin Andrews is”

    Keep up the good work!

  • December 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm


    1 – It’s not a bad thing to list awards and accomplishments. I just think they need more context, and for someone graduating college, being a high school team captain doesn’t tell me anything.

    2 – Great call, and they’ve been fixed. Especially bad timing on my part considering number five. Thanks!!

  • December 30, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    The funniest part is that he didn’t even win “Erin Andrews is Amazing”‘s fantasy league. He was merely the runner up. Oy.

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