We all know it’s a tough job market out there. Assistant superintendents who apply for head jobs often are finding themselves in an applicant pool of up to 100 or more qualified applicants. On the surface, most of these qualified applicants bring with them a very similar skill set, work experience, and career goals. With such applicants, this brings up the question: How can an Assistant Superintendent prepare his or her self to stand out in the crowd, get that interview, and land that dream job?
The answer is simple - it’s the extras such as continued education, proven communication skills, and memberships in professional organizations that catches a future employers’ attention. And once you get their attention, it’s up to you to sell yourself on the exemplary skill set and innovative ideas apart from the status quo that you bring to the table.
Continuing education is much easier to access than in years past. Online webinars, industry publications, and attendance at the National and the local chapter’s educational opportunities are all readily available to superintendents on a variety of relevant and timely topics. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you demonstrate a desire to better yourself, your industry, and your club – all attractive qualities to a potential employer.
Another important element on a Superintendent’s resume is his or her communication skill set. When building your interpersonal, verbal, and written abilities, it is imperative to keep in mind the demographic of the crew with whom you may be working, the membership that you are addressing, or the peers with whom you are discussing industry practices. To that end, learning a foreign language can be a huge advantage in the job applicant pool. Further verbal communication skills are enhanced by creating good rapport with not only the staff at your current facility, but staff at other facilities, as well as vendors, golfers, and tournament directors. The better reputation you have with those in your industry translates to a better reputation with your potential new employer. Written communication skills develop through completion of a periodic newsletter article, industry publication submittal, email, updates on the Club’s web page, etc. Any opportunity you have to practice and publish your writing should be taken. The only way to get better is to keep practicing what you speak.
Further distinction with your resume can be obtained by improving your connections within the industry. Networking by getting involved with the vendors at your club, with the local organizations that relate to your industry or your club in general, or with the community organizations such as rotary clubs demonstrates a willingness to take initiative. Volunteering at any of these organizations also improves your work experience and expands your areas of reference. Encouraging your staff to do the same in turn indicates exemplary personnel and mentoring skills and makes the entire crew a more effective work force.
Once you have taken the time to make your resume as professionally attractive as you can with your communication, work experience, education, and contacts, you still have work to do. When a job opportunity becomes available, you have to do your homework. Take the time to research everything you can about the course, the membership, the staff, the climate conditions, and the surrounding area. Going into an interview with this knowledge will improve your preparedness and the confidence you carry during the process. Having thoroughly completed your “homework,” you will be able to answer questions effectively and also address possible solutions to issues that club may be facing.
The more prepared you are for an interview the more success you will have. Even if you are not fortunate enough to land that particular job, you can still gain from the experience. You can keep a list of the questions that were asked during the interviews and rehearse your answers in order to be even more prepared when the next job opening comes along. Conducting and even recording these “mock interview” session can also assist by providing a good assessment of your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. There is always room for improvement.
With job market conditions today, Assistant Superintendents find themselves working in their current roles longer than what they may have envisioned when accepting employment. Lose the urge to become complacent. Instead, use the time to grow your knowledge and skills at golf course operations and perfect your communication and presentation abilities to improve your marketability to future employers.
About the author
Andy J. Klein is assistant superintendent at Kansas City Country Club in
Mission Hills, Kan. You can reach him at email@example.com