When the women’s college season ends for US teams in November or December, coaching vacancies start to be posted. That’s when resumes begin crisscrossing the nation.

There are different theories on the best formats and styles for resume and CV layout. Things can get quite complicated when you realize that for many coaches there is non-coaching work to consider. Many of us, after all, have things other than coaching full-time in our history. That can make the standard chronological format a less-than-optimal choice.

I know in my case it would be a nightmare. I spent quite a few years working in a professional career. Some of that overlapped my time as a volleyball coach. Some of it happened between volleyball coaching stints. If I just listed things chronologically it would no doubt be very confusing for someone who really was just concerned with my volleyball work. I’ve also done a fair bit of non-coaching stuff related to volleyball. I have to account for that as well in various ways.

So don’t necessarily feel like you are locked in to a standard resume/CV format. Nor should you give too much thought to making your submission eye-catching in some fashion. I’ve been on the receiving end. Fancy formats don’t really mean a thing. You need to do what works to best and most clearly present your qualifications and experience.

And no matter what your coaching experience looks like or how you decide to format your resume, the most important thing is to make sure the prospective reviewer can make sense of it. Resumes tend to get only relatively brief looks, especially on initial review. A confusing one is likely to end up in the “No” pile. A busy reviewer just won’t give it the extra time necessary to sort things all out.

When I say be sure your resume makes sense, I mean you need to keep in mind the person or persons who will be looking it over. Will it be a volleyball person? Or will it be an administrator or Human Resources representative? Even if it is a volleyball person, is it someone who knows the volleyball background you’re coming from?

I once advised a UK coach pursuing a US coaching job. As part of that I looked at his resume. His coaching achievements were certainly impressive. Unfortunately, he presented them poorly. Even a volleyball person in the US would have a hard time sorting through them. I myself struggled to follow the threads, and that was with a reasonable idea of the structure of volleyball in the UK. I can only imagine the confusion it would have fostered in the mind of an American university Athletic Director. On my advice, he reworked his CV into a much clearer format. I won’t say that was the reason he was able to land the job in US he ended up getting. It was more than CV format, of course. I have no doubt, though, it helped make his candidacy more understandable.

The bottom line is that as you build your resume (and write your cover letter) you need to think in terms of the likely reader and how you can make things most clear and understandable to them.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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