As I sat down to write this article in my local hipster-ladened coffee shop in Roncesvalles Village, a twenty-something entered in a pinstriped suit carrying a folder. As he approached the counter, he politely asked to speak with the manager. He then proceeded to pull-out a resume and asked if they were hiring.
In the last three and half years, I’ve been asked numerous times by other passionate, educated, mountain bikers, “how did you ever land that job?!”
Well, as Operations Director at Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures, I can tell you I did not land the job by wearing a pinstriped suit.
5 strategies to help you land rubber side down in a male-dominated industry:
1. Sit at the table
Prior to Sacred Rides, I worked for a marketing and communications company where I started out as an assistant to the CEO. Soon thereafter, I befriended the Operations Director and I will never forget the life lesson she taught me.
At the time, one of my tasks was to take minutes during our company meetings that were held in a big board room. I would often sit at the back and work off my lap, while those I viewed as the “important people”, sat at the table.
I remember my new friend/colleague telling me after the first meeting, to “sit at the table” and I had to ask what she meant. She literally meant to pull up a chair to the table, and that I was just as important to the company as anyone else who has ever pulled up a chair.
From that day forward, I pulled up a chair.
I soon progressed in the company, and left as one of the most successful sales executives they’d ever had.
For a little more inspiration, check out the Ted Talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “Why we have too few women leaders”.
2. Talk #’s, not bikes
Whether you’re interested in working for your favourite bike brand manufacturer, bike magazine, or mountain bike adventure company, you’ll make your way a lot further through the vetting process by talking numbers, not bikes.
Riding is just a given. And of course you like bikes. Who doesn’t, right?
What’s really going to impress your (fingers crossed) future employer is how you can benefit the company’s bottom line.
Be specific. Give examples with cold hard data. Depending on what role you are applying for, you may want to come prepared with answers to these questions:
What’s your lead to close rate?
How much engagement do your social media posts generate?
How fast can you change a flat?
How many riders at the weekly race series you participate in are your to-be-companies target audience?
Get the facts, and provide the data.
3. Culture fit
Back to the guy in the pinstriped suit. He looked dapper, he really did. And yes, I am totally making an assumption based on what he was wearing, but at first glance, he was not a great culture-fit based on the hipster-punk-rock feel I was getting from the folks behind the counter.
Fitting—and genuinely being—the part is important. Now I’m not saying walk into an interview with a bike-related company wearing a full DH kit, but certainly dress accordingly and of course, respectfully.
The same goes with attitude. Bikes are fun. If you are not fun, then maybe rethink the bike industry.
4. Become an ambassador
Brands, new and old, are always looking for ambassadors to represent their product in real life and on social media. Jot down a list of your favourite products, and do a little bit of research. There is typically a written application process as well as an interview or video recording to submit.
By representing a recognizable brand as an ambassador, you’ll not only get some free swag and meet some other like-minded people, you’ll add credibility to your name and your resume (helping you land that new gig you’ve been vying!).
5. Get involved
Although I mentioned to talk numbers not bikes, it never hurts to list on your resume some relevant experiences and events you’ve been involved with that that are not necessarily school or career related.
Being “involved” does not have to mean standing on the top step.
Here are a few ways you can get involved in the mountain biking industry to start adding to your resume:
- Volunteer – A few organizations that are often looking for an extra set of hands include: trail building and maintenance with your local mountain bike club, bike races, festivals, and clinics. (Sacred Rides’ full-time and female Rider Happiness Manager/Marketing Guru started as a volunteer).
- Become an instructor, guide or coach – Check out the courses offered by PMBIA and IMBA to get started.
- Start a group – Host a Women’s Ride Night at your local trails. Assign ride leaders for beginner, intermediate and advanced level riders.
- Write an article – Pick a related topic you are genuinely passionate about, and pitch an article idea to a few blogs and magazines. You’ll be surprised how many are looking for more content and guest writers. All of a sudden, you’ll be a published writer.
- Host an event – Get in touch with your local bike park or bike shop, and pitch them the idea of running a bike event for them. You’ll soon be adding event coordinator to your resume!
In the past 10 years, the mountain bike industry has seen a huge shift. Women on are on the scene, and we aren’t going anywhere. We’re bike mechanics, trail builders, bike shop owners, ambassadors, racers, Olympians, mountain bike marketers, mountain bike clothing specialists, and guides. We’re here to close the gap (not mind it).
Meagan Broughton is the Operations Director at Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures. If she’s not out riding, you can find her striving to create, build and foster a community dedicated to learning, progressing and conquering new skills on the bike, in the gym, or in the kitchen!
For healthy recipe inspiration, check out Meagan’s instagram: @eattrainadventure.