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  • Bill Vasko

What to do on a resume or portfolio if you are at a bad program

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Over the years, I have gotten the question from coaches about how to overcome unsuccessful coaching stints or experience at programs that did not have much success on the field or court.

If you’ve been in coaching long enough, at some point you’ll be involved with a bad program or a bad coaching staff.

This is where it is important to utilize your resume and portfolio to focus on all of the positive impacts you made as a coach, both on and off the field.

Emphasize Player Development

You don’t have to talk about wins and losses…..instead, talk about improvements made by your position group or individual players. Showcase instances where you've played a key role in the individual development of athletes. Highlight success stories of players who showed improvement under your coaching, both in terms of skills and personal growth. For example all-conference selections or kids that went on to play at the college level. Was there a first time achievement, such as first player to make all-city first team, or the first time beating a particular opponent in a long time?

Highlight Team Improvements

Discuss any positive changes or improvements in team performance, even if they didn't necessarily result in championships or titles. Highlight progress, such as achieving higher rankings, reaching playoffs, or securing notable victories.

Academic progress is an important component of any athletic program. It’s also an area that hiring directors will want to see on your resume. There are a variety of ways to help your athletes succeed in the classroom while also helping them achieve their goals upon graduating. Create a plan, document it, and modify and adapt it as you go. If you led the athletic department, or conference in team GPA, make it a bullet point!

Describe Challenges and Solutions:

Acknowledge challenges faced by the program and describe the strategies you implemented to address them. Showcase your problem-solving skills and ability to navigate difficulties, emphasizing the positive impact of your efforts.

Focus on Skill Development Programs:

If you initiated or contributed to skill development programs, training regimens, or other initiatives, highlight these on your resume. This demonstrates your proactive approach to enhancing both individual and team capabilities.

Highlight Your Role in Team Culture:

Emphasize your efforts in fostering a positive team culture, camaraderie, and sportsmanship. Coaches who contribute to a healthy team environment play a crucial role in the long-term success of a program.

Include Testimonials or References:

If possible, include positive testimonials or references from players, parents, or colleagues who can speak to your coaching abilities and the positive impact you've had on the program.

Showcase Community Engagement:

Highlight any community engagement or outreach activities the team was involved in. This can include community service projects, conducting camps/clinics for younger athletes or coaches, or fundraising efforts, all which demonstrate your commitment to the program, the players, and the broader sports community.

Use Metrics and Data:

Whenever applicable, use quantifiable metrics or data to measure and showcase improvements. This could include statistics related to player performance, team rankings, or any measurable outcomes of your coaching strategies.

Demonstrate Continuous Learning:

Showcase your commitment to continuous learning and professional development. Highlight any coaching clinics, camps, memberships in professional organizations, or additional certifications you've pursued to enhance your coaching skills and stay current with industry trends. Try to get involved in as many activities with your national or state coaches association as possible.

Were you a member of a committee or did you help coach an all-star game, or help select all-conference teams?

If you haven’t been involved in those kinds of opportunities, you need to start doing it, and documenting it in your resume.

Remember, honesty is crucial, but framing your experience in a positive light will help potential employers see your potential contributions. By showcasing your dedication, adaptability, and ability to make a positive impact, you can present yourself as a valuable asset to any coaching team. Sometimes, you really have to sit down and think about all of the ways that you have made a positive impact on your program and your athletes, even if you didn’t have a winning outcome at the end of the season. Take the focus off the bad and instead focus on the good!

If you need help with your coaching resume, your portfolio, or the interview process, be sure to sign up for one of our job prep packages at The Coaching Portfolio Guide! We provide services that assist with all aspects of the job search process for coaches. Click here to get started today!

Written By: Bill Vasko – CEO, XO Coach

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