by Shirley Carlson Hughes
(New Age Professional Skater (NAPS) Chairman – 1996)
What follows is an excerpt from the PSA Coaches Manual which deals with the challenge of finding a new professional position.
Establishing Personal Goals
It is imperative to begin the process of finding the right job by developing a clear understanding of what you want from the job. No two people have exactly the same objectives for the professional aspect of their lives and defining and prioritizing your own goals is a critical first step in a successful job search. There are many ways to approach this process but consider writing down your goals and discussing them with close friends or associates whose opinion you respect. Examples of questions which you may wish to consider while establishing these goals include the following:
What aspect of teaching interests you? Recreational/group lessons or competitive skaters? How much time are you prepared to spend? Do you want a full or pant-time job? Will you work early mornings? Evenings? Weekends? Will you relocate? Do you have long term goals include running a skating program or skating rink? Do you wish to advance to elite coaching? Are you prepared to attend seminars, clinics and explore other career enhancing opportunities? Would you be prepared to team teach?
Once established and prioritized, these personal goals will be an important tool in shaping your résumé, focusing your search for opportunities and in preparing for interviews.
Writing a Resume
The French word résumé means summary and refers to a fact sheet that identifies, describes and lists the qualifications of a person in terms of experience and education. While you will never obtain a position solely on a resume, it may well be the key to obtaining an interview and eventually the job. Your résumé should be well-organized, concise, clearly formatted and comprehensive. There are books available to help you develop a resume, either at most bookstores or in a library. Many computer programs enable you to format a resume. After preparing a résumé, consider asking friends or associates to review and comment on it. There are also résumé services available if you would feel comfortable with professional assistance. Résumés are not normally returned so ensure you keep the original. Take the time to have high quality copies made – remember, first impressions are important.
Arrange your résumé so that your most impressive qualifications appear first. Never overstate your experience or qualifications. List job experience and education in reverse chronological order. You may wish to include a list of references or reference letters with the résumé or, at a minimum, offer references if requested. Your résumé would normally include the following types of information:
- Name, address, telephone number
- Ratings (as applicable)
- Highest tests passed (USFSA, ISI, ISU, other)
- Competitive experience with highest title first (list only the most important)
- Amateur training, clinics (including when, where, with whom)
- Amateur or professional shows and exhibitions
- Coaching experience (highest level skater you have coached)
- Coaching education (seminars, coaches clinics, classroom, student-teacher)
- Other education (college, high school, music, dance)
- Outside interests
- Personal (married, children)
When your résumé is prepared you must decide where to send it. Seek the help of friends and associates. Be sure that it reaches the hands of someone who is in a position to offer a job. Some of the sources that you should consider in determining where to
send the résumé include local ice rinks, lists of clubs in the USFSA Rulebook, lists of rinks in ISI Directory, advertisements in Skating, The Professional Skater and other publications. There is also a Job Placement Directory in the PSA Office.
Use a brief cover letter with each résumé. This is your chance to personalize and focus your communication regarding a specific opportunity. Note your most relevant qualifications, and explain your interest in the position.
Remember, the résumé will always be an important tool in furthering your career. Even after you have the job, keep your résumé up to date. Consider revising it every six months. It helps you be prepared for the next opportunity and also gives you a benchmark to ask what you have done to increase your experience and nurture your professional growth.
Once you have been contacted and invited to an interview begin by reviewing your résumé and list all the questions which you might be asked. Find out as much as you can about the position and the person(s) who may be interviewing you. Look your best, be on time, be concise, emphasize your best points, relax! Some of the questions which you might expect to be asked include:
How many years have you been skating? Why do you want to teach? What are your schedule restrictions? What level of teaching experience do you have?
Why did you leave your previous job? Will you bring your own students?
What levels will you teach (adults, tots, etc.)? Are you prepared to make a commitment to stay for a specified period? Do you intend to continue your professional education?
Will you participate in community events, advertising, etc.?
It is important that you interact with your interviewer in a proactive manner. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the job being offered. You should prepare a list of questions which you want to ask during the interview. The following list may provide some examples.
- Will you be an employee or an independent contractor?
- If employee: What would be the base salary? How often would you be paid? Would taxes be withheld?
- If contractor: What would be your commission and how would you be paid?
- Who will be your direct supervisor (rink manager, skating director, club)?
- What are the payment policies for private lessons, group lessons?
- What are commissions? How much is paid? How often are they paid? When are they due? On which lessons?
- Is liability insurance required? Provided? How is it obtained? What kind? What level? What is the cost? (Liability insurance is available through the PSA).
- Are you required to join the PSA, ISI or both?
- Will you be expected to be rated by the PSA?
- What are the policies with regard to setting fees for private lessons?
- What is the policy with regard to teaching at other rinks? Are there any limitations or restrictions?
- Are there rink/club policies regarding private lessons? Can you teach anyone who asks?
- Are there set policies/formats for group lessons? Are there tests at the end of each set? USFSA, ISI or other?
- Will you be asked to provide administrative support? How much? Are you paid?
- Will you be expected to cover certain sessions as the pro on duty?
- Will you be expected to give tests, judge basic skills competitions, ISI competitions?
- Will you be expected to volunteer time for stroking clinics, or club/rink shows?
- Is there a pro room? Is there a dress code?
You may be hired at the interview but more likely that you will be told that you will be called. Do not hesitate to call back and reemphasize your interest in the position if you have not had any follow up within a week or so. On the other hand, inform your potential employer in a timely manner if you decide you do not want the job or have accepted another opportunity.
After you get the job you need to make special preparations for the first few days. It really is true that first impressions last a long time and there are things that you can do to ensure that the first impressions you make are good ones:
- Be on time and look professional. Many people at the rink will see you before they meet you. Present a good image to everyone.
- Work hard at meeting the many groups at a typical ice rink including the other pros, management, ice maintenance staff, office staff, and skate shop staff. Remember names, write them down if that helps.
- Familiarize yourself with the entire rink schedule, take a brochure home and study it. Know the sessions and the prices, even for those areas which you do not teach.
- Learn the rules of the rink; what is permitted on public sessions, who you can instruct and at what level. Determine all the details of group lessons, including levels, prices, group sizes, etc.
- Identify the clubs at your rink and when their sessions meet. Do you need special permission to teach on these sessions? Who can authorize you?
- Find out when and if tests are given, and the name and phone number of the test chairman.
You are not expected to know everything when you first arrive. It’s the best time to ask questions and learn everything you can about your situation. Make it an exciting, challenging experience – not a threatening one.
Editor’s Note: Ice Skating World offers a Job Board which lists jobs at ice skating rinks throughout the country. Check it out