Transferable Skills:
You've Still Got What It Takes

Identifying Your Transferable Skills


Wouldn’t it be great? “Wanted: retired NFL lineman to protect CEO from hostile takeovers.” Or, “Company desires retired NFL free safety to intercept disgruntled clients at customer service counter.” If only transition were that easy – but, it’s not.

As a player you had great skills. It’s what helped you become one of the best football players in the world. That’s no easy task – and the same skills that helped you become a dominating football player on your way to the NFL will help you dominate your field in your next career.

The trick is to identify those skills that helped make you a successful ball player and transfer them into life after football.

Top 10 skills that you can take with you when you leave the game:

  1. Meeting the challenge
  2. Determination
  3. Communication skills
  4. Performing under pressure
  5. Goal setting
  6. Dedication
  7. Learning new systems
  8. Discipline
  9. Commitment to excellence
  10. Teamwork


Top 10 Skills Employers Desire:

  1. Interpersonal skills
  2. Teamwork skills
  3. Analytical skills (problem solving)
  4. Oral communication skills
  5. Flexibility
  6. Computer skills
  7. Written communication skills
  8. Leadership skills
  9. Work experience
  10. Internship skills

(Source: Job Outlook 1998, National Association of Colleges and Employers, Bethlehem, PA.)


Review the “Top 10” above and circle those skills that helped you succeed during your athletic career. More than likely, you have developed many of them over a lifetime of football, other sports, and school.


5 questions to ask, think about, and answer (maybe write them down):

  1. What are the skills that helped you succeed as an athlete?
  2. What are the athletic skills that are transferable?
  3. What are some of the skills that are similar to those that employers are looking for?
  4. How can these skills help you as you take on the challenges of “life after football”?
  5. Consider what you might do for a second career. Which skills can you easily transfer that will help you succeed in that career?


You Got It.

While most professional athletes find that competing in a “real world” second career is challenging, they find that the transferable skills they acquired as a player more than qualifies then to excel in a career after football.

It will take some time and job experience for you to completely gain the confidence in your transferable skills. Think of your next job as an opportunity to learn “the business” while getting paid for gaining valuable experience.

Remember, you [still] got skills. You have accomplished more in your athletic career than most will accomplish in their lifetime. Take advantage of those skills.

WARNING: For your entire “career” you have thought of football as a “career”. For most American’s who change jobs every three years – they see a job not as an ultimate end, but as a “stepping stone” to better and/or other opportunities. Although you have played football for 15-20 years and may desire a similar experience in your next “career”, it can be counterproductive to look for that next 15-20 year career. It’s more important to enter the workforce and gain job experience than to wait for the next “big” career opportunity that may never come.

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