How to build a winning coaching resume

If you're an athletics coach, do you really need a coaching resume?

The short answer is yes.

No doubt about it, the athletics coaching industry is certainly one in which connections matter. If you know an athletics director or other key people involved in a search, and/or you have references close to that job, you're likely going to have a better shot at landing the job. This is particularly true in college football, a multi-million dollar industry filled with agents and all sorts of power brokers. 

Here's a quick story for you. In 2004, administrators from the University of Florida were on the hunt for a new coach to replace Ron Zook. One individual the group had conversations with was Steve Spurrier, the same guy that had taken a mediocre Gators program and changed the college football landscape by capturing six conference titles and a national championship, all while breaking all sorts of records during his previous stint at the school. Despite this, the Head Ball Coach was asked for his resume. In typical Spurrier fashion, he famously responded by pointing at the trophy case and told the administrators that his resume was inside.

Here's the point: Whether it was a good idea or not (for the record, it was not), Florida asked Steve Spurrier for a resume. It may be a good idea to make sure yours is up to date, too. 

Now, this story is more just “for laughs.” Spurrier didn't end up pursuing that job, and Florida likely wouldn't have really pinned him down to send in a resume to get the job at a place where he'd already had wild success.

At most levels, though? Yes resumes certainly matter, even in the coaching industry. Is having a subpar coaching resume – or not having one at all – a risk you want to take? Even if you're not actively looking, should you have it updated each year? Think about it with a coaching analogy: the odds of an opposing team running a fake punt against your team are lower than they are high. But you're not going to ignore the possibility during preparation, are you? Think of your resume in the same way. I have spoken with high school athletics directors and gotten a variety of responses on how much weight they give to a resume. Yet in almost all cases, they're going to at least ask for one. You definitely want your resume to stick out in a crowd of quality applicants.

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So, let's answer this question:

How can I make the best coaching resume?

Your resume needs to have three main qualities in order to give you the best chance of catching the attention of an athletics director or search committee.

1. The design needs to be eye-catching.

2. Your resume needs to be organized, accurate, error-free, and well-written.

3. The language in your resume needs to highlight your skill set and accomplishments.

To assist coaches with this process, I have put together a free, step-by-step guide on how to build a winning coaching resume that will help you achieve your goals in the industry. We are going to cover a lot of ground, so get ready. Here we go!

Here is the first step. Before you do anything, prepare the nuts and bolts of what will go into your resume.

While we are going to discuss some methods by which to make your resume look awesome, it's important to remember that the content is the most important aspect of your presentation.

Your resume is not just a listing of the places you have been and the roles you have served. When crafting the content of your resume, you need to be thinking about the unique impact you have made at each stop, and how you can take that skill set to the next spot. It may be helpful to check out another guide I have put together for you – 9 things ADs look for when hiring coaches – to get a sense of what types of skills and accomplishments you will want to highlight on your resume and during the interview process.

If you have not been keeping tabs during your career of your accomplishments, then this step may require some research. If so, take the time to do it! It will be worth it during the course of building your resume. You would rather have too much material and trim some during the writing process than not have enough.

If you already have a resume to work off of for your rebuild, then that's great. You can still look through this section and make sure you have everything covered in a general sense. For those of you that already have some type of resume to work off of, it will be about revamping it to maximize its look and content. Focus on the following items to begin with, and organize them on a piece of paper or Word document. There are a few categories you need to focus on when building up your notes:

A) Basics:. The places you have coached, years of service, and the position/title you held at each

B) Accomplishments: These are your items that will be listed under each stop, or in some other manner that will allow the reader to see the impact that you have made on a program. Be detailed here, and be armed with as much research as possible! If, for example, as an assistant you coached a total of 17 All-Region players in five seasons, do you know if that was a 50% improvement from the prior regime? If so, note that! Remember that we are also concerned with character and with classroom accomplishments. Don't just stick to sports here!

For the purposes of what we're doing right now, you do not need to be extremely concerned about optimizing your language and how you're going to write the resume. Just jot down the notes, and transform them later!

C) References: First of all, know what makes up a quality reference. It's not an assistant at an ACC school that you met while working a camp 9 years ago who won't remember you when the athletics director calls. These people need to be very familiar with you as a coach, a teacher, an administrator, and as a person. Seek out individuals that you have worked under or with for some time in which there was a positive and longstanding relationship. Contact them beforehand and ask if he or she is willing to serve as a reference.

Things don't need to be dressed up whatsoever at this point. You just want to have an outline at this point, some notes to work off of once you get to “word smithing.”. Again, if you already have some type of resume, you'll likely have at least some of these items on there. You can do this on paper or in a word processing document on your computer. 

Remember to arm yourself with statistics, numbers, how you personally improved things. If you have been a head coach previously, include some information on your work with the booster club or fundraising. Regardless of your title, make some notes about community service work you have done. How well can you brand yourself and your program? Think of these things as a “scouting report” on yourself. In the same way that you want to know everything about your opponent heading into the game, you want to give away as much useful information (not fluff) as you can to a prospective employer.

Now that you have your notes, the next step is to choose how you are going to actually build your resume. There are two primary options here, and so we'll split this tutorial into a section on each of those.

Option 1: Creating your own coaching resume

Let's cover the first of these, which is the independent method of creating your resume. From my experience, most coaches have gone this route in the past, and that's neither right nor wrong. It's all about your comfort level and which method is going to maximize your resume.

The majority of resumes that I review during consultations with coaches have been made on Microsoft Word. Hear me out on this: you can still create a resume that helps you get jobs on Microsoft Word. It's simply not my preference. If you do want to use Word and you're most comfortable with the platform, you can certainly do that. I've seen coaches dress up resumes a bit more by using tables, helmet logos, and such in Word documents that make them look more professional than just a black-and-white document. If you choose to use Word, I highly recommend using one of their templates and adding some color. Overall, I simply prefer other methods of resume building. This may mean that you come out of pocket to either use a resume builder or to have it built for you. Remember that – just like with other things – you often get what you pay for when building a resume. Some resume builders do have free versions, but features are going to be limited and/or they may include a watermark or their branding on sections of your resume (which you want to stay away from, for sure). Again, your resume is important for your career, so consider anything you're putting into it as an investment.

If not Word, then what? If you're building yourself, you will be using either an online builder or downloading a template that you can customize using your unique resume points. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are what I consider the best options to create a coaching resume.

1. RESUMONK

This service allows you to build a resume online from some pre-selected templates, customizing your own information as you go. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you can import it to use within your resume. Resumonk has some template options that include color or the ability to upload your photo. Basically, you can choose a template, fill in your own information, and then download it at the end for distribution in your job search. then downloading at the end. Upgrading to the premium plan ($29/year) or the “Forever Plan” (one-time payment of $89) gives you much more here, such as:

– A custom web URL for your resume (for example: resumonk.com/your-resume)

– More color/font customization options

– Analytics tracking

– Priority customer support

– Removal of Resumonk watermarks (again, you do not want a watermark/some company branding on your resume)

If you choose to use Resumonk, it's definitely recommended that you utilize the premium plan. Resumonk if a good option for those that do not want to spend a lot of time designing the actual look of a resume. It will not be as customizable as some other options, but you may find it easier in crafting your resume.

2. VISME

This is a really cool tool that can help you build all sorts of useful stuff online, like charts, infographics, and social media graphics. Visme also has a robust selection of resume templates that are customizable. They have some really cool, flashy templates, but our review of the service shows that almost of them are going to be under their premium plan. The individual “standard” premium plan for Visme is $14/month when billed annually (so it's $168) and gives you the following:

– Access to all of their templates

– Ability to download your resume in PDF format

– No Visme branding or watermarks on your projects

The cool thing about Visme is that you can save your templates and continually update your resume within their platform as long as you're a premium member. Plus, you could easily select different templates if you ever wanted to change the look, and you could also take advantage of their other tools if you really want to show some creativity whether it's in the job search process or within your current role.

Visme allows you to download your resume, or you can send out a web version (with a public or privately accessible link) if you prefer that route. There are also highly interactive features available like voiceovers and video links. This is definitely a more “next level” option because of the amount of design capabilities, customization, and tools that you will have at your disposal. You may find it worth it, because remember, your resume is an investment!

3. CREATIVE MARKET

Creative Market also has plenty of resume options, and it's an interesting concept. To sum it up, you can search through their marketplace of resumes, choose one you would like to download, and then customize it from there.

The sellers on the marketplace are usually quite helpful in terms of laying out exactly what you get if you purchase one of these templates and how to go about customizing them. These templates are usually going to be compatible to edit in Microsoft Word or even with other avenues like Photoshop. To give an example, one seller we saw included a template for a resume and cover letter, all the relevant files, a pack of icons to use for customization, a set of fonts, and detailed instructions on how to customize the design to your needs. There are also offers to drop a message, should you need any help getting your template up and running, customizing it, and saving it.

Creative Market is a good option for those who are looking to keep it cheaper, but also want a nice design. You will still be doing all the writing and will need to customize the design according to your needs.

4. CANVA

Canva for resume

Canva is a really cool design tool that has templates and designs for tons of stuff ranging from presentations to social media graphics to – you guessed it, resumes. You can search Canva's database of pre-made templates and then go about designing your resume from there with your own text, photos, graphics, colors, and the like. Canva has templates that range from simple to very modern and everywhere in between. You can create multiple copies of different resumes (and cover letters, if you want to design and write one of those on Canva) and have them save automatically in your account.

There is a free plan available with Canva, but the paid plan unlocks even more design options and customizations. You can also order prints of your resume through Canva Prints.

Alright, so there are a few cool options for online builders that can help you really nail the design of your resume. If you go this route, you're still going to be responsible for writing your resume yourself, even if you have a template to work off of that could be helpful to you. These resources can get on the path to a really cool design, and their templates can also give you some guidance on how to organize and even write your resume.

If you're writing your own resume, there is an additional step I want to cover for you, and that's how to optimize your resume to properly highlight your skill set and accomplishments.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you're at the point where it's time to write your resume:

A) Don't waste words. This document is limited in space, and each word on your resume needs to count. Don't use this precious space to tell the readers things that are obvious, like the fact that you were “responsible for coaching running backs” if your title at a previous school was “running backs coach.” That's obvious and does absolutely nothing to enlighten a potential employer on your actual skill set. Along the same lines, if you served as an offensive coordinator, we already know you “developed a game plan and called plays for the offense.”  Instead, use this precious space to tell the reader how you uniquely made an impact in your position.

B) Think about how to separate yourself from the competition. It's great if you coached three All-Region players last season, but is there a way you can dress that up even more? For instance, did your predecessor only have one? If you're an offensive coordinator and your team averaged 30 points a game, was that a 10 point per game on average improvement over the previous season?

C) Don't focus only on the field. Character matters in coaching, as a general rule. Make sure you include community service initiatives or awards. Don't forget your teaching credentials and certifications. If you're applying to be a head coach, an athletics director is going to be highly concerned with your ability to manage a program, everything from equipment to parents to booster club fundraising. Find a way to loop in any of your accomplishments in these areas.

Need any tips? Drop me a line at: chris@thecoachbridge.com.

Now, let's move onto the second option coaches have when it comes to writing and designing an awesome resume, and that is that you can completely outsource the production of your resume.

Option 2: Hiring someone to create a coaching resume.

If you go this route, keep in mind that it's still very important to have those resume notes that we worked on earlier, so that you can pass along pertinent information that your builder will need in order to craft a great resume for you. If you do choose to go this route, then here are the best options for hiring someone to design your coaching resume.

1. UPWORK

Upwork is an online, searchable database of freelance individuals and agencies that can perform a wide variety of services. Resume writing is among the trades you can find within the network. To get started, you can just visit Upwork.com and search for “resume writing”. The site will populate a bunch of options for you and will separate candidates by their hourly rate, success rate, how much money they have earned on Upwork's platform, response time, their geographic location, and more. Clicking on a freelancer's profile gives you more information about their credentials, and you can contact them to speak with them about your project in more detail. Peruse several of the listings, and you'll be able to look at past reviews and how much those clients paid for different resume-related services with each freelancer.

Keep in mind that a lot of the folks on Upwork will be used to writing and designing resumes for the “professional world”, and not necessarily football coaches.

2. FIVERR


Fiverr is a marketplace where you can pay a freelancer to perform all sorts of services related to writing and design, web building, marketing, you name it. As you would imagine, resume design is one service that is offered on this freelance network.

Fiverr can be affordable in this regard, but keep in mind that it may be similar to Upwork in some cases; a lot of the folks may not be as familiar with “football lingo” that you may need to complete the actual writing of your resume. It may take a little more back and forth in that case, but you can peruse all the listings on Fiverr to check out each designer's credentials and go with someone you're comfortable with in the end. Typically, designers have several package options, so make sure you understand what you're getting, how many revisions, and read through their reviews.

3. THECOACHBRIDGE.COM

Yeah, time for a completely shameless plug. No pressure at all, but I do need to point out that TheCoachBridge.com can also work with you to write and design your resume.  I have personally helped a bunch of high school and even college coaches (even Power 5 football coaches!) with their resume writing, design, or redesign. We have even found out that our resumes have been viewed by NFL organizations and professional agents!. The benefit of working with me at TheCoachBridge.com is that I have experience in sports and sports media, am a writer by trade, and talk to coaches and athletics directors all the time. You may find that helpful in trying to cater your resume towards the specific job or type of job you're searching for, but it's totally up to you! I just want you to have a resume that you're happy with that's going to get you the job that you want.

If you want to order a custom resume from TheCoachBridge.com, our process goes like this:

A) Initial consultation (phone, email, Zoom)

B) First draft design + client-sign off

C) Tweaks + finalization + final client sign-off

I do not finish working on your resume until you're totally satisfied with both the content and design. I'll also archive your design, and we can make adjustments every year.

Interested in working with TheCoachBridge.com on your resume design? Go here.

Alright, a couple final notes here:

Whether you're writing and designing your resume on your own or hiring someone to do it, remember that content is king. That said, it's better to stay away from a resume that looks like this:

Instead try to transform your resume document into something that looks like the ones below. By the way, this is just a small sample of resume designs that I have performed for actual clients in the past, with names and information changed.

I hope that this guide has been informative and helpful in giving you some direction on how to craft a winning coaching resume. If you need some more help, feel free to shoot me an email: chris@thecoachbridge.com.

Good luck!

Chris Clark
Chris Clark

I'm a sports media professional with over 13 years of experience, having built lasting relationships across the athletics and coaching industry. I'm here to help you reach your goals!

Hey, I'm Chris Clark!

Hey, I'm Chris Clark!

I’m a sports media professional with over 11 years of experience, and I started TheCoachBridge.com to help athletics coaches level up in the industry and reach their personal and professional goals!

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