At NexGoal, we specialize in matching organizations with top-tier talent with a focus on former athletes and those with the athlete mindset. While our history working with and being founded by former athletes may make us biased, the experts agree that you can’t go wrong filling your company with ex-athletes. Studies show that former athletes may make 5-15% more than their peers. Meanwhile, Japanese companies are heavily turning to retired athletes in order to achieve competent workers. Many hiring managers and CEOs like ASM Sports Groups’ Christopher Vidal have found former athletes to be some of their best candidates.

The traits that allow athletes to succeed at their chosen sport translate seamlessly to the business world. Even those who didn’t play organized sports can still embody the traits of a successful athlete—this is what we refer to as the “athlete mindset.” If you’re seeking to fill your organization with quality talent, you can’t go wrong with hiring someone with the athlete mindset thanks to these virtues.

Goal-oriented

No matter the sport, every athlete is a competitor striving for ascending heights. Their goals may be different, but each athlete is working towards an ever-changing finish line. From making the varsity squad to becoming a world champion, everyone starts somewhere and creates a clear vision of where to go next.

All Business’ Jon Forknell points out that this teaches former athletes to excel both on their own and as part of a team. Both of these tenets are highly desirable in the professional world as well. Athletes know that to achieve their goals, they’ll have to put in the work themselves. The coach isn’t taking the shot for them, writes Forknell.

But most sports are a team effort, and even those that aren’t can benefit from teamwork. Knowing how to succeed as a team to help the squad reach its goals is crucial for athletes and professionals alike.

Coachability

Think of your favorite athlete. No matter how gifted they are or how much inherent potential they had, it took years of coaching for them to achieve their goals. An athlete’s willingness to grow and accept criticism, feedback, and direction from a mentor is something that serves them well in life after sports.

“If you aren’t able to humble yourself and submit to the coach, you’re not playing.” –Vaughn A. Calhoun

GradLeaders points out that even solo sport athletes have coaches. Someone that grew up being coached and knowing how to accept criticism without becoming offended will be off to a better start in the workforce than someone less disciplined.

The contemporary career climate evolves at breakneck speed thanks to ever-changing technology and world events. Being able to accept guidance is critical to keep up.

Balanced

Being a student-athlete can be tough as you’re expected to wear different many different hats (sometimes literally). Balancing academics with team events, practices, and games, potentially for multiple sports, means that athletes must have excellent time management skills and the ability to balance their many duties.

“Playing a sport through high school and then in college, and maintaining a good GPA is not easy. It reflects very nicely on the resume of an athlete, and shows to the potential employer that the person can manage their time effectively.” -Chris Valleta

Not only does this make former athletes fantastic at scheduling, but they know how to prioritize and compartmentalize in the workplace. A former athlete is well-positioned to know what tasks to prioritize and how to stay focused when things get hectic.

Emotional strength

Being an athlete isn’t all glory. Because of the competitive nature of sports and other extracurricular activities, most of those in any given event will not be the winner. It takes a lot of effort to win, but one must also learn how to lose with dignity.

Businessman and former NFL player Chris Valletta says that athletes having a network of teammates and coaches helps facilitate a sense of belonging, a boost in mental health, and a group to lean on in hard times, helping keep them strong.

Athlete Career Placement mentions an athlete’s discipline as one of their most valuable traits. Knowing how to focus on a goal and compartmentalizing failure in order to focus on the next steps give them an edge in staying emotionally strong when things get tough at work. The past few years have shown that changes can happen quickly, and having the emotional strength to come out on top is crucial.

Wrap up

Remember—one didn’t have to play a sport at a high level to have the athlete’s mindset. Not all had the privilege or physical gifts required to have a long sports career. These intangible traits we recognize from former athletes are found in many, and these are the types of candidates that can truly make an impact in your organization. Consider former athletes and those with the athlete mindset for your next opening and you won’t be disappointed with the results!

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