It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do after your sporting career is over

Every athlete needs to face the fact that one day they’ll have to retire from the sport, and the vast majority will also need to find another job once they leave the competitive arena.

This can be an extremely daunting prospect, especially as most athletes will have little to no experience of a full-time job, and many may have missed out on college or university due to their sporting commitments.

It’s therefore important to start planning for your life after sport well before you retire from competition. That way, it won’t come as such a shock you’re your athletic career comes to an end and your transition from world-class sport to the workplace can be made much more easily. Here are our top tips for a seamless career switch…

  1. Figure out what you want to do

One of the first things you need to consider is what you want to do when you retire. As an athlete, people may expect you to look for a job in the sports industry, but there are lots of other options available to you as well. Take the time to think about what you enjoy, what your passions are, and then you can begin your search for a job that best suits you.

  1. Do your research

Once you’ve got an idea of what you may want to do, start researching your chosen career path and find out as much as you can about that industry. Try to find out what skills, experience and education are required for the role and learn as much as you can about the companies that hire people in this area.

  1. Think about your skills

As an elite athlete, you have many skills and attributes that can be transferred to the world of work. Think about examples of when you have demonstrated dedication, motivation or the ability to perform under pressure – these are all things that potential employers will be interested in. If there are more specific or technical skills required for the job that you’re interested in, try to find out if there are courses or qualifications that you can take to add these to your repertoire as well. You may be able to gain new skills and experiences even while you are still competing.

  1. Set some goals

As an elite athlete, you are already very goal driven, so try writing down a list of what you want to do, and what you need to do to get there.

  1. Start networking

Throughout your sporting career, you are likely to have met people from a wide range of backgrounds. Are there any contacts you have who could help you in your chosen career path? Recent research suggests that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking, so if you don’t know anyone in your favoured industry, begin trying to make new contacts in that area.

  1. Get yourself work-place ready

When you apply for a job, you’ll need a professional curriculum vitae (CV), an engaging cover letter and a winning interview performance – these are all things you can work on ahead of time, so make sure you’re ready to go when the time comes.

Got some more questions about how to succeed in all stages of your career?  The IOC Career+ Programme, delivered in cooperation with the Adecco Group, helps elite athletes build on their skill sets so they can successfully manage the difficult transition from sport to a new career.