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PCA Transition Week sees Sykes' successful career change.
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Former Leicestershire spinner James Sykes has admitted he is replicating the ‘buzz’ of playing professional cricket after replacing taking wickets with placing people in jobs in his new role with PCA partners, Hays.
After leaving Leicestershire midway through the 2017 season, Sykes decided to give professional cricket one last shot in 2018 before transitioning into a second career with the recruitment specialists.
The 26-year-old started the summer playing for Derbyshire 2nd XI but a contract did not materialise for Sykes and after conversations with some friends outside of cricket, he decided to look into recruitment for a career path, citing the transferable skills as the driver behind his decision.
The average age a cricketers career ends is just 26 and since 2012 the Professional Cricketers’ Association have guided 199 players into a second career with this work being highlighted as part of the PCA Transition Week.
Sykes started his role as an Associate Consultant in the field of trades and labour in the Cambridge area in September, and has already found a number of similarities between the two occupations.
“I really enjoy being out on site, meeting people and building relationships – all the things you do in cricket, but rather than the reward of a wicket or a win you are getting that buzz in getting somebody over the line and sealing a deal,” said Sykes.
“I didn’t think I would get that buzz but when I placed my first person I got it and I found it quite addictive, you want that constant win.
“A lot of cricketers don’t have qualifications or have been to Uni but recruitment is one of those industries where your personality and how you present yourself is so important.
“I would highly recommend players looking into transitioning to look into it. You will miss that buzz of playing but when you get a deal done I get that excitement.”
Making his professional debut at the age of 20, Sykes spent a further five years on the playing staff at Grace Road. Despite realising his dream of being a professional cricketer has ended, there is a sense of satisfaction that he knows he has accomplished his life-long goal.
“As a sportsman you live in a bubble and have no real concept of what the real world is. You are used to people doing everything for you and lots of free time with a good amount of money for something you love.
“You have to go through a period where you discover what you want to do and I actually tried barbering but I decided it wasn’t for me as I wanted my weekends to play cricket. However, I was pleased I tried as many things as possible.
“I did a part-time job last winter and it made me realise I wanted to give cricket one last go. I sacrificed six months of this year trying to get a professional contract and it didn’t work out but it meant I am now content because I now know I can move on from cricket.
“I’ve only been at Hays a few weeks but so far I enjoy it and I look forward to going to work which is important. Hays is an organisation where you can progress and there is no ceiling. You can be promoted within nine months earning a lot of money through hard work and personality – that’s where the transferable skills come in.
“I know that chapter of my life is done and I will not have that ‘what if’ moment because I gave it my best.”
Hays is the leading global specialist recruitment group and the market leader in the UK where they place someone every minute and have been partners with the PCA for over five years.
Former Hampshire all-rounder Chetan Patel is now a Director at Hays and is encouraging more PCA members to turn to recruitment for a career change.
“Our doors are open and I think there’s a mutual benefit. We are always on the lookout for new talent- we are attracted to people who are disciplined, competitive, commercial and have great people skills and I believe cricketers have these qualities.
“We have a great partnership with the PCA and our relationship is much deeper than buying a service and we keen to help cricketers make the transition to the work place when their playing days come to an end.
“It’s fantastic James has joined and I will be following his progress. We also had Gary Wilson set to do some work experience before his schedule playing for Ireland made that impossible
“I know the transition into the “real world” can be tough and we are very keen to make this change as smooth as possible. We are currently hiring and hope that after the PCA Transition Week I have more cricketers to interview.”
For more information on the Personal Development and Welfare Programme click here.