Do Former Athletes Make the Best New Hires?

Former athletes have the dedication, passion and soft skills employers need to grow their businesses. Athletes, at the collegiate level or higher, often make the best new hires. These individuals are known for being part of a “team.” They can work closely with others to utilize their own strengths while using the strengths of others to overcome their own weaknesses.

What Former Athletes Bring to the Workforce


A student’s GPA, or how well they do academically, has long been the “gold” standard for hiring top-tier talent. The problem is that these students often lack the soft skills needed in the workforce.

Some of the brightest students lack the skills that athletes have honed:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving

Employers want an individual who can meld into their current team without an issue. When a new hire can fit right into their new workplace, they’re an immediate asset to the team.

Recent research reports employers are overtly discussing skills gaps they identify in what the workplace needs, and what college graduates come to work prepared to do. These skills gaps are in effect ‘soft skills’ today’s employers seek

What Soft Skills Help Athletes Excel as New Hires?


Athletes excel because they have honed the following soft skills that make them team players and natural leaders:


One of the most important skills in the workplace is communication. Athletes are trained to communicate and work in teams. Whether the athlete communicates with employees, suppliers or investors, they’ll excel.

These skills are learned in sports through:

  • Strategies
  • Conflict management

Athletes are able to motivate, recognize and appreciate the contributions of others. When working in teams, their communication will become an even more integral soft skill.


Sports require some form of teamwork. Even individual sports require athletes to work closely with trainers and coaches. Through a lifetime of working in teams, athletes are able to:

  • Work with team members to find solutions
  • Take charge and lead teams when necessary

Even when there’s a personal conflict, athletes can overcome these conflicts to do what’s “best for the team.” These skills are learned in all college sports. Problem solving is also learned.

Problem Solving

Projects rarely go as planned, or a major deal may be held up as a result of an unforeseen issue. Problem solving allows athletes to find solutions through the skills they honed when:

  • Scouting
  • Competitive play
  • Making the right plays

Every time an athlete was engaged in competitive sports, they were challenged to solve problems. They bring this same problem-solving ability into the workforce. Athletes are trained to overcome adversity, and they’re often the first members of the team to start solving problems.

These individuals excel when:

  • Defining problems
  • Brainstorming alternatives
  • Selecting strategies
  • Implementing solutions

When problem solving and creativity are combined, it’s rare that an issue can’t be overcome.


Problem solving and creativity meld perfectly into each other. Athletes are trained to identify patterns and tackle challenges that come their way. Creativity is one way to overcome issues, and these individuals develop flexibility and creativity – a valuable asset to every employer.

When solutions are hard to find, athletes can sit down and use the creativity needed to overcome even the most complex problems.


Through sports participation, college graduates hone specific soft skills, which are also identified as some of the most commonly desired soft skills by today’s employers. It is these soft skills that make the college athlete graduate a prepared employee, ready to add value to the workplace.

Athletes often make the best new hires when they’re put into positions where they can work with teams. These athletes are natural leaders, and while they may start out as a team member, they can often transition to team lead in the future.

Soft skills are transferable across all industries and jobs, making athletes great employees in all fields.


Dr. Kristen Migliano, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor, Lynn University College of Business & Management and Academic Program Coordinator, MBA Specialization in Leadership & Management. Prior to entering Lynn University’s College of Business and Management, Migliano spent 13 years as an athletics administrator with the Fighting Knights as Associate Athletics Director and the last nine years as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Outside of higher education, she has worked in public accounting, and as a business developer and recruiter for a career placement firm specializing in accounting and finance. She was a full scholarship basketball student athlete & team captain, NCAA Division II – 1993-1997 and Associate Director of Athletics & Senior Woman Administrator (SWA), Lynn University – 2002-2006.