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Wanted: Rowing Coach How to Read Classified Ads and Avoid Costly Mistakes

You’re a rowing coach, or at least you have decided that you want to be one. You’re looking for a new position, one that will compensate you fairly for your experience and skill set and that will also provide a good environment for positivity and growth. For most of us, the first step is to take a look at the classifieds. You scan through the listings, but it can be hard to know what to look for and recognize what jobs might be a good fit for you.

Surprisingly, rowing organizations are not always the best when it comes to clearly communicating what they are looking for or what they can offer a prospective coach. Some rowing organizations make significant errors in the hiring process, resulting in the hiring of coaches who are not good fits for the positions they’ve been given.

Here are some tips about how to read a job posting so that you can determine which opportunities are good, which opportunities are great, and which opportunities you should be wary of or even avoid all together.

Before you even start to look for a job, consider these three qualifying questions about your goals and intentions for the search: first, are you looking for part-time income to supplement your full-time career, or do you consider yourself to be a full-time, professional rowing coach? Second, if you are searching for a full-time position, are you willing to move out of the area? Pro tip: no one should consider relocating for a part-time position. Don’t. Do. It. And third, what are your compensation requirements? Don’t shortchange yourself on this. Consider your qualifications – your experience, your skill-set, and your track record. Typically, a part-time coach can make $12-25/hr depending on region and experience. For a full-time coach, the annual salary range can – sadly – run from less than $20,000 to, in rare cases, more than six figures (I will assume, however, that you are not among the 1% of rowing coaches who merit a six-figure salary).

Write down the answers to these three questions and treat them as necessary qualifications for any job you would consider taking. Keep them on a piece of paper in front of you to help you stay on track. Are you looking for a job that is full-time or part-time? Are you willing to relocate? What compensation do you require? Keeping these three factors in mind will help you focus on what you want as you begin to scroll through the listings. For example, you’ll frequently see that some “National Championship College Team” on the opposite coast is looking for a volunteer assistant. This seems cool, and you might start to tell yourself a story about how awesome it would be to help coach a team that wins national championships.

You know what is not awesome? Living in hand-to-mouth poverty and sleeping in a utility closet in the boathouse. This has happened. However, focusing on your three basic requirements for a job (full-time/part-time status, relocation, and compensation) will help you avoid the window-dressing allure of positions that simply aren’t a good fit for you.

Once you are confident about these three basic job requirements, you can start scrolling through the listings. As you find postings that meet your basic criteria, consider the quality of the listing itself. When it comes to listings, here are some initial good signs for which you should be on the lookout:

  1. The job meets your first three qualifications (full-time/part-time, location, compensation), and this is clear in the listing’s headline. This is your first clue that the organization is interested in getting the right candidate and not attempting to place just any applicant in the position.

  2. The listing provides follow-up details in its opening paragraph, and these details further clarify that the job meets your qualifications. These details might include the job’s weekly hours and schedule, seasons, and responsibilities, as well as the type of athletes (junior, masters, collegiate) you would be working with if you took the position.

  3. In its job description, the listing clearly outlines the position’s responsibilities, and these responsibilities are in alignment with the compensation being offered.

  4. The qualifications required for the position align with its compensation and responsibilities.

  5. The posting reflects professionalism, organization, and a positive culture.

These are the red flags you should avoid when scrolling through listings:

  1. The precise compensation is not included anywhere in the posting. Beware the infamous “compensation is competitive and commensurate with experience” line. In reality, an organization that says this is not confident that its compensation is actually very competitive at all.

  2. The listing only provides a single 3-4 sentence paragraph describing the position. Putting out such a short, vague job description is lazy and unprofessional, and it indicates that the organization probably takes a lot of shortcuts elsewhere.

  3. The post includes a lengthy description of the competitive history of the organization. While affirming the quality of the organization and its membership can be a good thing, boasting about championships won fifty years ago belies an insecurity about the organization’s current status and suggests a culture that may be resistant to growth and positive changes.

  4. The listing includes passively insecure comments about the organization. Examples include: “we may be small, but we’re growing!” “We don’t rely on fancy equipment to make us fast!” We’re looking for someone to jump-start the program!” These types of comments usually have good intentions, but they also reveal an organizational culture that is struggling. Unless you will be compensated as a change-agent (one of the hardest jobs out there in any industry), be wary.

Finally, remember that we work in an outstanding community full of good people. No one ever intends to surreptitiously underpay a coach or mislead a candidate into a bad situation. Frequently, clubs are run by volunteer boards with disparate interests. Often, urgency leads to suboptimal decision-making, and misunderstandings do happen. I hope these tips will help you avoid unpleasant situations and help keep you coaching for years to come.

Good luck in your search!

Madder Consulting offers complimentary career counseling to all rowing coaches at any level. Reach out to me at if you just want to discuss your options, or if you are considering an offer and want a second opinion. I’m here to help!

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