Introduction: Elite athletes typically retire from sport at a relatively young age which implies that, after their sporting career, most engage in a new professional career. When entering the job market, many athletes rely on the potential transfer of competencies developed throughout their athletic career (e.g., leadership). This study aimed at identifying (1) the competencies athletes perceive as giving them a competitive advantage on the job market, and (2) the matches and mismatches between athletes’ and employers’ perceptions on this potential competitive advantage. Methods: A mixed-methods approach was adopted, combining the Athletes Competency Questionnaire for Employability (ACQE) and focus groups and interviews. In total, 954 elite athletes (54% active, 46% former) completed the ACQE, consisting of 28 items structured within four higher-order competencies (i.e., Career & Lifestyle Management, Career Communication, Career Resilience, Career Engagement & Flexibility). Participants selected five items they felt (would) give them the biggest competitive advantage on the job market. Second, five focus groups and six semi-structured interviews with 58 employers were conducted on the topic of athletes’ employability. Qualitative data were analysed inductively using thematic data analysis. Results: Athletes report that they gain a competitive advantage from ‘Career Resilience’ and ‘Career & Lifestyle Management’. Employers largely support the athletes’ perceptions and confirmed that athletes’ strongest competencies can be an added value for their company. A mismatch between athletes’ and employers’ perceptions was identified for ‘Career Communication’. While employers view athletes as strong communicators and networkers, athletes indicated that building a professional network is their greatest weakness. Conclusion: This is the first study to identify and compare athletes’ and employers’ perceptions regarding employability. Findings highlight that, in addition to developing facilitating structures, employers and career support providers should focus on assisting athletes in developing competencies to maximize their chances on the job market.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVereniging voor Bewegings- en Sportwetenschappen 25e Symposium
EditorsJan Boone
PublisherVereniging voor Bewegings- en Sportwetenschappen
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Event25e Symposium Vereniging voor Bewegings- en Sportwetenschappen: VBSW Online -
Duration: 11 Dec 202011 Dec 2020


Conference25e Symposium Vereniging voor Bewegings- en Sportwetenschappen


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