The world of athletics is competitive and it is volatile; you can go all the way up or come spiraling down in a matter of hours. Despite the many skills that we spend decades cultivating, a minor mistake or injury can cost you your career. Take it from a former athlete who went through this very scenario. I lost my athletic career when I fractured my foot during a hiking accident. I was devastated when I found out I may never be able to play football again. I was 22, fresh out of the athletics program at the local college and had been looking at a future in pro football. An unprecedented fracture had washed more than a decade of the blood, sweat, and tears into nothing? For a couple of months, I was depressed to the point of loss of functionality. I had been building my life to a point that an accident had negated entirely. What was I supposed to do? What could all my challenging work and skill building from football translate into in the “real world”?
The Turning Point
The turning point for me was when I ran into an old football teammate from high school in my local grocery store. We immediately begin reminiscing on the time we spent on the same team, recapping touchdowns and victories. He looked well put together, no bumps or bruises. In other words, no sign of still playing sports. However, he appeared very content and positive. I asked him what he had been up to after school. After college graduation, he had gone into a sales-driven recruiting role and had stayed with the company for a bit, finding success and building a career for himself. I thought to myself, that sounds nice but a desk job? How terrible. It’s not for me. Flash forward to me deciding to stop feeling sorry for myself and take control of my future. I took the chance. I got the call that I was hired to start my career in sales/recruiting in the healthcare staffing industry. I was going to be a nurse recruiter working for Health Carousel. It has not come without it's challenges and that's why it's proved to be the right role for me.
Why Sales/Recruiting Worked for Me
When I first started on this new job, I was very unsure about if I was qualified or if I would enjoy the work. I grew more and more confident as each day went by. I realized that a lot of that had to do with the skills that I had gained from the athletic adventures that I could no longer utilize in that manner. Here is what has stood out to me:
1. Passion and Hard-work
The athletic world is tough, and that amount of harshness can only be survived if you have passion; a fact that had been drilled into my head by all my coaches growing up. The reason why many athletes end up quitting after a few years is that while they are good at it, they lack passion. Passion fuels a strong-headed mind, which fuels hard work and makes us hold fast despite the physical and emotional exhaustion of the training and losses. Although I am unable to implement this skill in the sporting world anymore, it has helped me tremendously in my position as a nurse recruiter. Every day I come across numerous unforeseen challenges, and while none of them are as harsh and exhausting physically as in sports, I can only get through them by the passion and steadfastness that athletics has taught to me. I have a passion and drive for success that doesn’t sleep, no matter what I am working toward.
2. Accustomed to Failures and Mishaps
My new role is sales-driven recruiting, and I go to the job expecting that some people will reject the offers that I make, that some of the jobs I recommend people for would not work out, and some of the time it would be my own mistake. However, I find that I can easily cope with it because the athletic training has prepared me for it and I know that getting up and trying again is the only way to win or in this case, place the nurse in an assignment. No one knows the value of failure than athletes; we deal with this in every game that we play. In fact, athletes step into the game knowing fully well that there are many risks and chances of failure but they try their best to win. If they fail, they strategically cover up for their mistakes in the next game. Fully trained athletes even learn to love the risks involved in the game, because that gives them a better chance to recover and learn. I try to not make the same mistake twice within the sales process, but I know it will be okay if I do because I don't let failures slow me down.
3. The Importance of Teamwork
In addition to the recruiting function of my role, I collaborate with the credentialing department to ensure completion of pre-employment checks prior to start date. I also assist with onboarding employees to the client facility as needed, manage timecards, resolve payroll or benefits questions, collaborate with facility to complete performance evaluation process, and document disciplinary action as needed. Teamwork is key for all of this and more to be carried out properly. In sports, we are trained to adjust to teams, cover up their flaws, make room for their strengths, communicate and meet the goal together as opposed to competing with each other. Teamwork is an essential skill that has helped me get through my job at each and every level, and I owe it to the years of rigorous training I had gained as an athlete.
4. Improvising, Adaptability, and Flexibility
When it comes to recruiting, a person must be extremely adaptable and flexible because human beings are, at the end of the day, very complex and unpredictable. Every individual is different in temperament and skills and athletes who have worked in teams know this better than anyone else. Additionally, often athletes have to improvise because anything can happen during a game; someone might sprain their foot and suddenly you have to take their role and so on. Athletes learn very early on to prepare themselves for any sort of situation and are very adaptable –a skill that helps in recruiting teams.
5. Receptive to Training
My career at Health Carousel started with thorough formal training that lasted several weeks and on the job training still today. I experienced being overwhelmed, tired, and at times, a little doubtful in my ability to succeed. I reminded myself that as an athlete, we often must sweat until we are near fainting and we do so for the entire day for weeks to prepare ourselves. We are constantly undergoing tough physical and mental training.I understand the benefits of training in athletics and have grown to realize that training in anything is what sets you up for greater opportunities and success in your field. I was very open and receptive to the training that is offered in my role and it's proven to have propelled me further in my career so far. I am also aware that I am far from where I want to be and that training is the answer for more success in the future.
Coming to the Answer
In my experience, an athletic career can be harsh, but it does polish your character, personality and helps you develop a lot of skills that are extremely useful in the life outside of the sporting world as well. As a former athlete, a sales-driven role gives me the satisfaction every day of putting my hard-earned skills to the test to help me continue to win, even after sports.