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Learn from Nike. Be a Story. Tell the Story. Find the Job.

As I search for current topics to use as the foundation for blog posts on my AdvantEdge Careers website, I look for stories that inspire me. If the story motivates me and it has a connection to career coaching and job search strategies, then I start writing. Today’s Nike story was a no-brainer.

Nike announced this week that it had made runner Justin Gallegos the first athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a professional contract. If you have not been fortunate enough to see the story, you can read the news in USA Today. Even better, watch the Nike video for the full story. What does this fantastic story have to do with finding your first job or your next job? Everything.

Athletes make great stories: Athletic achievement against all odds serves as the subtext for an excellent story. Justin’s story is compelling and centers around sports (running) and his refusal to let his disability (cerebral palsy) define him and what he can achieve. His story led to a job (a professional contract) with Nike. Collegiate student-athletes face challenges, albeit clearly not as significant as the ones Justin has faced. From time management and pressure situations to teamwork and competition, student-athletes have learned how to deliver results. That is why collegiate student-athletes can be an excellent hiring decision for many organizations. They just need to learn how to turn their story into a compelling elevator pitch for their job search.

Grit and determination win the day: Two of the most highly sought-after soft skills in talent acquisition today are grit and determination. Who would not want to hire Justin Gallegos after watching his video or hearing him say “I was once a kid in braces who could barely put one foot in front of the other. Thank you everyone for helping show the world that there is no such thing as a disability." Find a way to show potential employers that grit and determination are the fuel that drives you every day. Work that grit and determination into your elevator pitch and job opportunities are certain to follow.

Search for employers where culture drives results: Finding your first job, or your next job, requires a plan and a systematic process. Simply applying for jobs online will not yield results. An effective job search plan includes deep research on target companies. Make sure your research includes a focus on company culture. For Nike, culture is an integral element of the company’s long-term vision and success. Nelson Farris, Nike's head of corporate education, describes what the company expects from its employees. "Figure out where you want your career to go, and when you see something that would help you get there, ask us for it.” No doubt that Justin Gallegos is a perfect fit for Nike’s “Just Do It” culture. Your challenge is to find the company and the culture that best fit your life story. That job starts with research and planning.

Dan Troup is the founder of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a certified career coach can assist you in your job search, please contact AdvantEdge Careers at:


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