The Last Step
Mon, 07/02/2012 - 09:54 — Kurt Esser
As a kid in seventh grade I would tell my friends that I was going to be a college athletic director. I wasn’t entirely sure I knew what an AD did and certainly my friends, family and guidance counselors didn’t know. No one knew where to start and now I am not sure how to finish.
I currently serve at the Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs at the University of New Mexico. That is a long title, but I’ve whittled down the responsibilities to this: “I create demand.” In addition to communications and marketing oversight, I supervise six coaches and five sports, but I do the same thing, “I create demand.” I create demand for UNM to attract, retain and nurture great coaches, staff and student-athletes.
For the first half of my career I was told that vision and big picture thinking were so important, and they are key to someone who wants to progress in their career. However, I am really enjoying this stage in my career because I have been able to create some great one-on-one relationships. The need to focus more on the individual than the group is a great tip that my current athletic director has shared with me. This is not to say that BIG ideas or projects are not important to inspire fans, donors or advertisers.
One on One
These aforementioned “One-on-One” relationships are with the sport head coaches that I supervise. In college athletics, it is all about the coaches and I seem to have a knack for working with and nurturing these individuals. Here are some things I've learned in the process:
1. What I have realized in my dealings with coaches more so than with department managers…I just need to shut up and listen.
2. I try not to solve a lot of problems. I do ask a lot of questions. Generally, coaches hate to be told what to do, but they do enjoy talking about their problems or issues.
3. If you have good people on your staff, tweaks are more necessary than wholesale changes to a plan or a team. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s said, "When you hire people smarter than you are, you prove you are smarter than they are. "
4. Nine out of Ten People Who Write Hand Written Notes Will Get That Next Job!
How well do you fit?
Over the last two years I have had the opportunity to meet with several executive search firms (aka, head hunters) for college athletics. What is abundantly clear is that like every hiring manager, they all look for different things when they are assisting a search. And, I assume, each President is also looking for various things from the pool of candidates presented. So it appears there is no cookie cutter formula for writing a resume or progressing in one's career. Statistical analysis does not necessarily reveal who will get the next job in a particular setting..
It is apparent that certain traits are need, but fit is the magic word. Can you articulate, either on your resume or in an interview that you can lead, follow and work within the framework of a team?
Perhaps like me, you keep thinking a new resume is needed. One of the individuals for a search firm recently gave me a tool to begin a migration from the statistical resume to a more “PSR” format. I received a document for review and to use with every project to outline the Problem, Solution and Result. Once again, every person is different, but if you are interested in getting a copy, please send me a direct message on twitter.
The light bulb
So the light bulb has gone off in my head. Excuse me if you are already there. During the early years, show achievement, stats, results on a resume and the ability to think strategically while in an interview. As your career advances, show strategic thoughts and plans that have been implemented and be able to articulate your ability to control “human capital.”
I post a weekly blog on YouTube called “Over the Hump” and many of the points in this article are reviewed in the blog. I enjoy discussing best practices, so feel free to send me feedback or topics you’d like discussed.
Senior Associate Athletics Director
University of New Mexico
Youtube blog “Over the Hump”