What’s sport got to do with getting a job in tech?

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Why do some employers like applicants who have played competitive sport? Is this even relevant in an job where basically you need to sit at a computer all day, and it’s more about the brain to keyboard coordination than hand eye coordination? The truth is it’s not sport per se but what this tells an employer about you. Competitive team sport is a metaphor for office life. 

I never used to get it when I was younger. I went to a school that was good at sport and I didn’t excel so I left school thinking I wasn’t any good.

I wasn’t terrible –  it’s just that I took my reference point from those closest to me and unluckily for me my schoolmates were bloody good at sport.

It didn’t help that we were encouraged into team sports which, with hindsight, were not my strong suit and options like tennis (which I now play and enjoy) were reserved for the girls.

So when I left school, and sport was no longer compulsory, I gave it up at the first chance.

Big mistake!

Without question my health was the worse for it but if it hadn’t been for the fact that I’d achieved a lot of other things aside from good grades I may have struggled to land a top job after university.

Here’s why it matters – and why taking up a sport can improve your career as well as your health, even if you are working in tech or any desk based job.

  1. Many high achieving people did competitive sport when they were younger and look for those who have done the same: like attracts (or seeks out) like
  2. Competitive sport (as opposed to an occasional five-a-side knock about) tells an employer that you can commit to something, that you’ve probably got a degree of grit or resilience and that you like to win – winning is equivalent to hitting goals, getting results which is key to any successful career
  3. If you played a team sport, it’s also a great indicator that this will transfer from the pitch to office as ‘team player’
  4. And finally common interests help you build relationships faster with other that can help you get or get ahead in a job

I once interviewed a young woman who after leaving school had decided to cycle round the coast of Britain.

She did this on her own, planning her journey and cycling around 100 miles a day. The distance by road around Britain is a staggering 5000 miles or thereabouts.

Who wouldn’t hire someone like that?!

You don’t have to go to quite those lengths but if you want to more guarantee an interview do something that stands out.

Most endurance achievements are taken up in middle age by old gits like me (I’m cycling to Australia over 25 years).

Far more impressive when you see a young person who’s really taken something on.

What’s stopping you, apart from you?!

Written by: Duncan Cheatle

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