When Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Adam Russell’s baseball career ended, he had to figure out a whole new career, with virtually no warning.
Today, the former big leaguer works in the insurance industry and volunteers helping other sports figures make the transition to a post-playing career.
It starts with the resume.
“A lot of guys don’t know how to relate what they learned in professional baseball to the business world,” Russell says. “I was seeing resumes that said things like, ‘I set the record for triples in the month of August in Round Rock.’ Great. It’s awesome. But a CEO doesn’t give a crap about it.”
Not understanding how to sell oneself on paper is certainly not a problem limited to former athletes. At InterimExecs, we’ve seen resumes from C-suite executives with 30 years of valuable experience leading companies, making change, and having an impact, who headed their resumes – first item up – with the degree they got from an Ivy League college many years earlier.
Refocusing on the Future
In working with former baseball standouts, Russell’s challenge is to convince those athletes that they are more than their stats. He shows them his resume.
“I put at the top my three major league teams I played with and what years I played with them. It’s an attention grabber, but it doesn’t define me,” says Russell, who played for the Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres, and Tampa Bay Rays.
The rest of his resume focuses on the many skills he learned in professional sports – contract negotiation, philanthropy, how to excel in high pressure situations – and how those translate to the business world.
Accentuate the Positive
“If I’m pitching at Yankee Stadium on a Sunday night in front of 70,000 people, you know I can get my report in on time,” he says. “Or I’ll be in a big board meeting, and I won’t be scared. Working in diverse environments, learning new languages, traveling all around the country — all those things helped me become a better man and they translate into the business world.”
Adam got us thinking about the thousands of resumes we’ve seen – and how hidden gifts sometimes remain hidden, to the detriment of the executive.
A professional athlete could be at a severe disadvantage breaking into the business world without any relevant business experience. The one advantage they have is the remarkableness of opening with Major League Baseball credentials (the odds of making it into the Majors from the Minors is about one in fifty). For many executives, they have tons of relevant experience, but don’t think enough about how to present themselves as being remarkable. Adam’s volunteer work is a great example of bringing fresh perspective – both for athletes in transition, and veteran full time executives seeking to move into interim gigs as a career.