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Job Web site gives recruiters sporting chance

Phoenix Business Journal - by Adam Kress The Business Journal

Some college athletes leave school and sign multimillion-dollar contracts to play professional sports, but most aren't so lucky.

The vast majority of former college athletes comes in the form of someone like Wendell Tull, a basketball player at Northern Arizona University in the early 1990s who, upon graduation, had to go out and find a job just like everyone else.

Tull ended up working in admissions for Arizona State University, but left as director of enrollment at ASU Polytechnic last year. His experiences as a college athlete coupled with his work in admissions led him to create a nonprofit aimed at finding jobs for graduating student athletes.

College Recruitment Team is a job service that allows former student athletes to post their résumés free of charge. And for a fee, companies also can post job openings.

Tull saw a need for corporations to find high-quality candidates and figured there are few better talent pools than former college athletes.

"Most recruiters want to find people who they know are committed, dedicated, can take constructive criticism and know how to work on a team," Tull said. "Those are former college athletes."

Lily Bazargani, a dispatch manager who does a lot of hiring for Los Angeles-based Nextcom Inc., has used College Recruitment Team to hire a handful of employees.

Her firm, which installs corporate phone systems, trains most of its new employees and has found the hires from CRT to be up to the task.

"These people have a lot of hard work and discipline in their past, and you can see it now in their work," she said. "It's a very solid pool of candidates."

Mike Herring, director of sales and marketing at Southern California sports apparel manufacturer Meca Sports, also has hired people through CRT.

"In hiring sales people, I'm looking for competitive and driven people," he said. "And CRT is a good resource."

Herring, who played basketball at NAU a few years after Tull, said having a smaller online job resource to work with also is an advantage.

"It's much better than and the other generic job-search sites out there," he said. "Those sites can be good, but it's nice to have a place to go for my specific needs."

Tull said about 50 companies, including big names such as Merrill Lynch and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have posted jobs on the CRT site, and thousands of students use it to post résumés and search for jobs. The site also is being used by university MBA programs.

"We have some partnerships with top-tier business schools like the W.P. Carey school at ASU and the Stanford Graduate School of Business," Tull said. "They are looking for recent grads who would be good MBA candidates."

Aside from helping business schools and companies find qualified candidates, Tull said CRT works to help current student athletes overcome busy schedules and some old stereotypes.

"With classes, practice and games it can be hard for student athletes to utilize a school's career services department," Tull said. "I had that problem, and I had kids telling me that 10 years later."

The "dumb jock" stereotype also can hinder student athletes looking for work, Tull said, because of a relatively small number of college athletes in high-profile positions who get in trouble with the law.

"Stereotypes still exist, but overall, this is a very talented group of people."

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