August 7, 2001 by Rob Newell
How to get your foot in the door and make a good first impression
Many jobs require standard applications and stringent resume formats for potential employees. But when it comes to "applying" for a position as a promotional bass angler, there are no standards.
In the fishing industry, resumes and portfolios run the gamut from hastily assembled, one-page faxed bios to leather-bound autobiographies.
In order to define some standards for resumes and portfolios, The Bottom Line interviewed several fishing industry executives to find out what they look for in angler information packets. Pam Behnke of Mercury, David Simmons of Yamaha, Bart Schad of Ranger Boats, and Bruce Stanton of Pradco were all kind enough to offer some guidelines and suggestions.
There was a time when leather-bound autobiographies garnered attention from industry sponsors. But these days, concise presentations are of paramount importance. In short, anglers must deliver their information efficiently.
"Get to the point quickly," suggests Bart Schad. "We are all pushed for time these days. Anglers should be mindful of that and package their information as succinctly as possible."
The basic physical structure of biographical information sent to fishing industry companies should be comprised of three parts: a cover letter, a resume, and a portfolio. The cover letter and resume are critical components, but the portfolio is optional. Some companies like a portfolio of pictures and press clippings; others do not have the time to review print clippings or the space to store them.
While presentation is important, it can be overstated. David Simmons says that although fancy bindings may look nice, often times they are impractical because of storage constraints. In addition, Simmons notes that bindings often limit access to individual pages of the entire document. Consequently, he advises anglers to use folders that can be stored in a conventional file cabinet and to keep all of the components loose so a single document can be readily copied.
The cover letter should be a one- or two-page letter that introduces the angler and explains why the angler is interested in representing the company. This is the angler's opportunity to emphasize education, employment, or fishing backgrounds that would constitute a benefit for the company.
"The cover letter is important because it shows the individual's ability to organize thoughts and make conclusive points about what they bring to the table in a promotional capacity," says Schad.
Pam Behnke and Simmons suggest that a cover letter should also include a reference from the angler's dealer.
Resumes are the heart of an angler's information packet. Resumes should document an angler's education, occupational history, fishing background, press history, media contacts and dealer-relationship history.
Most resumes start with education history. List accomplished levels of formal education first, and then add extracurricular education that might be appropriate. For example, speaking classes, sales courses, or even boating classes required for a captain's license are all applicable.
Employment is an obvious item to include on a resume. Anglers should be especially specific about any public speaking, sales, or self-employment background.
"Anyone who has a history in sales, service or been in business for themselves has an inherent understanding of selling to the customer," says Schad.
While education and employment are easy to document, fishing history is a more challenging subject. How much fishing history to include and how to document it can be confusing to say the least. For her part, Behnke says she likes to see the last two years of an angler's career documented in great detail. However, when outlining older accomplishments, Behnke argues that only major championship fields should be mentioned.
Simmons suggest listing fishing history starting with the most recent and moving backwards from there.
"The father back you go, the less detail you need to give," says Simmons.
He advises anglers to sum up earlier seasons in single-bullet points. For example, instead of listing an entire season, an angler might consider the following: "FLW Tour 1998 - one top-five finish (Kentucky Lake), one top-ten finish (Lake Toho) and one big bass award (Lake Toho)."
Simmons also recommends listing circuits fished instead of every single finish.
"Single, high finishes are great, but what is probably more important to a company is your overall representation in various circuits."
Instead of just listing event finishes like a catalog of numbers, Schad suggests bringing attention to certain finishes and explaining why the finish was meaningful to the angler.
"An angler might list a 57th place finish and then say he introduced himself to a newspaper reporter at that tournament which eventually led to a picture or article," explains Schad. "Relating meaningful events is more interesting than a list of finishes."
Other entries on resumes that warrant mention are past press history as well as a list of recent promotional activities and appearances. "Include any press or media coverage and sports writer contacts," advises Simmons.
"I like to see community involvement," adds Behnke. "List any contributions to social service organizations or activities like kids casting seminars."
Finally, a dealer-relationship history should also be included on the resume.
The third component of an angler's biographical information is a portfolio. Portfolios are comprised of media print clippings and photos. The portfolio is not as critical as the cover letter or resume; however, a stockpile of product mentions and logos in print proves to a company that an angler can promote.
"Print clippings and photos are fine, but do not try and fax these items," cautions Pam Behnke. "Faxed images are usually black and blotchy, so send them in the mail. Also, highlighting names and pertinent product mentions in the article with a highlighter is a tremendous help. This makes reading it much easier."
"I really don't care to see photos and newspaper articles unless they have product logos or mentions in them," says Bruce Stanton. "A name in the paper fifteen times is worthless unless there is a product mention with it. Product mentions and logos prove to me that an angler can promote."
Schad says clippings, like tournament finishes, are more interesting if there is some explanation included with them. "A stack of clippings has more appeal if an angler has taken the time to write a summary or caption with each article and photo," he says.
Schad points out that good salespeople (which is what promotional anglers are) should be able to sell themselves first and foremost.
"In a way, it is good that there is not a standard application for promotional anglers in the fishing business, because it gives an angler the opportunity to sell himself or herself," Schad says. "An angler who can highlight a fishing and promotion history in a way that shows promise as a promotional angler is probably a good salesperson."
Simmons sums up his advice by saying that the best resume he ever received was simple and direct.
"It was nothing fancy. The angler had included his education, employment, a highlighted fishing history, the circuits he fished, his media contacts, his dealer reference, and a nice inset photo of himself all on one page. It was quick and efficient."
Rob Newell is a freelance outdoor writer from Tallahassee, Fla. He has been actively involved in tournament bass fishing and the professional bass fishing industry, both as participant and a writer, for more than 10 years. He currently fishes as a co-angler on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and contributes to OperationBass.com, Bass Fishing and other fishing publications.