By: Dan Gould & Cliff Mallett
Originally Published in: Sport Coaches Handbook
Provided by: Human Kinetics
The old saying that "it's not what you know but who you know" doesn't always hold true, but having access to key contacts in sports and coaching can certainly grease the wheels in a job search. Networking involves connecting with administrators, teachers, and others involved in coaching who might assist in some way. For example, an influential contact might agree to serve as a reference or put in a good word to a member of the hiring committee, and this type of credibility can give a candidate an advantage over other applicants. Therefore, coaching candidates are well advised to make a list of the people in their network and contact them systematically to inquire about position openings and make reasonable requests for assistance in the job search process.
Candidates should also attend gatherings of coaches and sport administrators, such as camps, clinics, and professional meetings. It's been said that every conversation is an interview waiting to happen, and candidates who take the initiative to meet prospective employers gain an advantage over those who are content to rely on phone calls, emails, and social media. This is not to say that electronic communication is unnecessary; to the contrary, it is essential in this digital age. Candidates are in fact encouraged to call and email other coaches, athletic directors, and administrators about potential openings. In addition, a college career services department may be able to provide contact information for people in hiring positions at schools of interest.
One of the most important ways to network with other coaches is to join professional organizations. For example, a candidate should investigate the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America), as well as state high school coaches' associations and state education associations. The cost associated with joining an association or attending a meeting is outweighed by the chance to meet many coaches and administrators who seek to fill their job openings. For example, in the United States, the annual national soccer and football conferences held in January typically draw several thousand coaches, and similar numbers are found at the annual meetings of some state high school coaching associations. These events provide educational, social, and career-enhancing opportunities.
Another possible network can be found in the rise of AAU and club teams. Some of coaches involved with these teams interact frequently with interscholastic coaches while coaching their players in the school sport's off-season.
Finally, it was once a rite of passage for many aspiring coaches to enter the profession or move up through the ranks by doing summer work at residential camps hosted by colleges. However, with the advent of major recruiting camps, team camps, and camps hosted by coaches, the traditional summer camp option may not offer as many networking opportunities as it did in the past.