In practice


Case study: Nordic Combined athlete

John Doe is a 27 year-old Austrian Nordic Combined athlete. After almost 10 years of competing on the highest international level, he has finished his athletic career in recent months. Now, he feels ready to apply for his first employment.

The specific job he aims for is advertised by a leading car manufacturer. The company searches for a “Regional Brand Assistant”. This person shall be responsible for the assistance and monitoring of associated car retailers who are required to implement new corporate identity guidelines in the course of a recent brand relaunch.

Reason to select this tool

The tool Super Powers is chosen by John’s counsellor to support him to exploit the potential of his informal competences gathered in competitive sport. This is of even increased importance as John’s formal qualifications are limited.

These informal competences are intended to be put in context to the specific job he will apply for. This approach shall contribute to both upvalue the written application as well as benefit a potential interview with the employer.

Step 1: Identification

John starts by using page 1 of the Circle of Competence (pdf). This first task results in the uncovering of a wide range of competences that John has built throughout his elite athletic career. As, in his case, there is a concrete vocational objective, the identified competences are related to the job advertisement. After a brief common analysis, it becomes clear that there is an interesting match. Some of John’s competences are of utmost importance to this job.

Consequently, John is asked to select those 3 competences that he perceives as his most outstanding and, simultaneously, are highly relevant to the job. The information given in the job advertisement further directs the selection. John picks “Coping with travel stress”, “Attention to detail” (or “Precision”, as he calls it) and “Commercial and brand awareness”. He records these competences in field 1 of the Circle of Competence.

Step 2: Evidence

Subsequently, John is required to provide real-life examples of how these competences were established in his athletic career:

  • Coping with travel stress – In the final stage of season preparation, Nordic Combined athletes in John’s country “hunt snow”. This term refers to the fact that decisions on where to train in the following days have to be spontaneously taken based on the acute weather conditions (respectively latest snowfall). Throughout his career, John was used to getting calls from his coach in the early morning telling him where they would meet and have to go that day. Thus, he did not only develop an immunity to travel stress but furthermore developed an extraordinary capacity to stay flexible by efficiently adapting and implementing plans based on the given circumstances.
  • Attention to detail – Both elements of Nordic Combined, ski jumping and cross-country skiing, are highly technical disciplines. Success is based on accuracy. As an elite athlete, John was used to work extraordinarily precisely on the finest details, from minimally adjusting the binding to observing the own position in different flight stages or optimising the waxing of skis dependent on the snow conditions. Attention to detail became an innate part of his work ethics.
  • Commercial and brand awareness – From his first moves towards elite level to his years in the world cup, John learnt about the relevance of effective brand communication. How to best display your sponsor’s products, how to prove compliance with its values when talking to the press or presenting yourself on social media or how to consistently set your partners in scene: communicating your sponsors in the right way is a crucial skill. Especially, when you rely on financial support in the initial stages of your sporting career.

Step 3: Transfer

Based on this evidence, John and his counsellor prepare a comprehensive storyline for the recruiting department of the employer. In what way will John’s unique competences gained in sport become super powers in the advertised job? Key arguments are collected to substantiate one central message: I am a perfect match for this job!

  • A long-trained ability to deal with constant change in a travelling context equals core competences of a high-level regional brand assistant: a maximum of flexibility and stress resistance.
  • The precision of a world-class athlete ensures the professional execution of the company’s strategy in collaboration with a team.
  • Finally, the long-lasting experience of John in optimally presenting enterprises is directly linked to the specific functions of the job.

John strategically highlighted these points in his CV. Moreover, he exercised the presentation of his key arguments in a staged interview with his counsellor.

In practice Super Powers 1

“Circle of Competence” filled in by John


Assuming that informal skills of athletes would automatically put them on top of HR lists is an illusion. They compete against people with informal skills themselves AND degrees or diplomas. However, dual career practitioners in the EU have repeatedly reported that in recruiting processes, extraordinary skills (or: “super powers”) of athletes were able to outweigh disadvantages regarding formal education.

Also in this case: Despite his lower qualification in comparison to other applicants, John was offered the job. According to the employer, this decision was taken primarily due to his unique informal competences that were “not only claimed to be possessed but consistently and vividly documented.”