Influence the Uncontrollable – Getting a Job

There are 50,000 students studying Sports related courses every year in the UK. That’s a lot of graduates to fit into a market that simply can’t sustain those numbers. A massive problem students now have is getting any valuable experience at an elite level. I know of some cases where Premiership clubs receive upwards of 400 CV’s applying for just one position. How the hell are you meant to stand out?


Odd One Out

In previous posts on this site I have given some thoughts; here & here about standing out from the crowd. This blog has been the best door opener I could have ever hoped for. It was never my intention, actually I had no intention when I started. But that’s what it has become. If I was ever to apply for a job there is a much better chance that the person screening those initial CV’s at least might know my name. Maybe even my credibility gets me an interview. That’s all I need. Once in the room you have to feel confident in showing off your skills & personality. Getting in the room is the first step and you need to push the odds in your favour.

While I do write somewhat sporadic blogs for this site and they are mostly well received. The biggest draw to the site is the jobs page. For the first 3 years I would scour the internet looking for Analysis jobs. I would spend a few hours a week looking at careers pages on club websites, searching other job sites and setting up some Google alerts. Nowadays every job I put up is sent to me. 3 – 4 years of very manual job searching has got me to a point where in the UK at least if there is a PA job being advertised it usually comes across my desk.


Guerilla Job Hunting

I was thinking recently if I was a student today and I was trying to get my ‘dream job as an Analyst – how would I stand out? How would I push the odds in my favour? Sure you could start a blog. But the market is a lot more crowded now than it was 3-5 years ago. Also the quality of analysis being done online now takes a good amount of skill and maybe your not at that level yet. So how then?

Instagram became a social network because it was a utility. It made people better at taking photos. The jobs section of this site is a utility. It provides a service to clubs and future employees and off the back of that people follow what the blog or follow me on twitter. So if I was a student today I would spend the next year creating a utility for bloggers, analysts & fans.

I would analyse every shot in the EPL I can get my hands on. Who took it? Where on the Pitch? Defenders position? Final Pass Type etc… Yes this is a lot of work (maybe you can do it for a few clubs). But if Analysis is your dream job you are going to need to prove that. I would analyse every shot I can manage and give it all away for free. Just stick a nice simple downloadable CSV file on your web-site and see how much attention you can get. By all means do some analysis, visualisations and whatever else takes your fancy but first and foremost be useful.

Web_Scraping_WideGoogle ‘scraping data’ and see what you can find. There is a whole heap of data already out there maybe you could ‘find’ it, clean it up, repackage it and make it available (without getting in trouble). Some of the techniques will push you into learning code, learning R and becoming a bit of a data jock. All the skills required to make that data available are some of the skills you would be required to do in a club. Obviously there are others – but remember this is to get noticed, to make contacts, to tun those cold contacts into something at least lukewarm.

Influence the Uncontrollable

Sports team constantly talk about controlling the controllable’s. The All Balcks have 3 areas. Controllable, Uncontrollable and Influence. Something like the weather is an example of an uncontrollable factor. Often teams will also put the Ref in the category of uncontrollable. The All Blacks put the Ref in an Influence box. Something they ultimately can’t control but can influence. The strategy above is similar to the ref. It’s not something with a clear causation. Do this work ≠Good job. But it does influence. Instead of just sitting back and taking the odds of 400-1 – at least try and influence.




Rob Carroll. Founder of The Video Performance Analyst. Always learning.