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Canadian Sport Institute Pacific – As athletes you hone and master a number of skills to become successful in your sport. When it comes to life outside of sport, athletes have expressed concerns with feeling unprepared and inexperienced. Many, if not all, of the skills athlete acquire during their athletic career are transferable. Where those skills transfer is the athlete’s choice.

Today, job hiring trends are changing and employers are looking for well-rounded individuals, focusing more on transferable skills other than related work experience. In fact, Workopolis surveyed hundreds of Canadian employers and learned the following:  

Interpersonal Skills

Employers are struggling to find applicants with a wealth of experience with interpersonal skills. Below is a list of the top 10 soft skills (with athlete examples) employers are looking for:

  • Communication skills
    • Essential to communicate effectively with coaches, teammates, etc. in order to achieve success.
    • Ability to give and receive criticism in order to achieve athletic success.
  • Writing
    • Strong reading and writing comprehension skills necessary for communication during training and competitions
  • Customer relations
    • Positive interactions with fans and stakeholders to maintain and increase interest in the sport
  • Sales
    • An athlete is their own brand ambassador. Whether they are utilizing social media or trying to acquire sponsors they are selling their brand.
  • Organizational skills
    • Effectively manages multiples tasks and requests (practices, training, recovery, education, media, etc.) and prioritizes as necessary
  • Microsoft office
    • A required skill (amongst other computer programs such as…) as part of training and communication with team, coaches, staff, etc.
  • Policy analysis
    • Determine which set of rules and guidelines will be most effective to reach a particular set of goals (ie. Setting rules and guidelines for team environments)
  • Supervisory skills/leadership
    • Ability to work as part of a team to reach team and individual goals and a take leadership role when appropriate and necessary (in a game, difficult practice, etc)
  • Problem solving
    • The athletic environment is never without its challenges. Athletes often exhibit problem solving skills such as; awareness, listening, collaborating, communicating, taking action and seeking feedback.
  • Teamwork
    • Works with diverse groups (personalities, styles, etc.) and adapts

Computer Skills

We are now very much in the technology era and employers want to know that an applicant can easily operate a computer its many programs. The following are the top requested computer literacy skills:

  • Microsoft Office, Excel, Word, PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Works
  • Reports
  • Documentation

Don’t hesitate to add any other programs you use such as training software or video analysis. Showing the employer that you have the ability to understand and use other technical software shows computer literacy and willingness to learn new programs.

Social Media Literacy

It should come as no surprise that social media is on this list. Social media has become the new way of communication and more and more people are using this format. With that being said, businesses are utilizing social media to research their applicants. Rightfully so, a resume or interview will only give an employer limited knowledge of the applicant. Yet, through social media the employer can get a greater perception of the applicant and gauge how “right” of a fit they are with their company. Workopolis surveyed over 300 Canadian employers and found that 63% reported that they will research an applicant online. Some of the most utilized sites are:

  • LinkedIn 91%
  • Facebook 75%
  • Twitter 28%
  • Instagram 16%
  • Tumblr 3%

Now that an employer has researched your online presence they may also examine your social media expertise and usage. More and more employers are requesting some form of social media literacy as a requisite for a successful applicant. *Note – companies also want brand ambassadors, more clients/connections, and to be well-connected and having many users/connections demonstrates your social media literacy and communication skills.

Work experience

Yes, as always, work experience is going to be a requirement but don’t let this deter you. Real world experience (your athletic career) can very much set you up as a competitive candidate. Make note that this is referring to experience and not education/expertise (particular education or acquisition of a unique set of skills). Aside from ones athletic experience there are also a number of ways to add some experience to a resume: volunteering, community work, job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, etc.

It’s important to identify your strengths and be able to articulate them properly. This process will not only help you relate your experiences/skills to future employers but will also help you navigate any sponsorships or partnership negotiations throughout your athletic career. Remember, as athletes you hone and master a number of skills to become successful in life.

Further Contact

For further assistance with identifying and articulation your skills contact your Game Plan advisor Natalie O’Leary at


Game Plan is a total athlete wellness program that supports and empowers Canadian athletes in pursuing excellence during their high-performance sport careers, and beyond. Taking a holistic and proactive approach to life and career planning, the program is designed to help athletes navigate change and focus on performing when it matters most.

Game Plan is the result of a collaborative partnership between the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network (COPSIN), and Sport Canada.

The program is delivered regionally by Game Plan Advisors, designated experts in supporting elite athletes with life and career planning, across the country in the following locations:

Pacific, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic

To learn more about the services and resources available to you, please contact your local Game Plan Advisor to schedule an appointment, or visit

Created by Natalie O’Leary, Game Plan Advisor

November 2016

Canadian Sport Institute Pacific

6111 River Road

Richmond, BC V7C 0A2