In high school, athletes tend to be popular, and new research is showing that after high school, those kids from the in crowd are also more likely to get the best jobs. The study, published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, specifically highlights that adults who were top players in high school were more competitive in the job market.

“Participation in competitive youth sports ‘spills’ to occupationally advantageous traits that persist across a person’s life,” Kevin Kniffin, lead researcher and a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, said in a university news release. In the study, researchers found that people who played varsity sports in high school had more self-confidence and leadership skills — qualities that are very marketable when looking for a job.

They also noted that varsity athletes were more involved in volunteering and participated in charitable events. Researchers found that late-career workers who had earned a varsity letter over 50 years ago had more of the qualities people look for when searching for employees. “…Plus, they donate time and money more frequently than others and possessed great prosocial behavior than in their 70s, 80s, ad 90s,” Kniffen said.

Confidence is the key to getting highly competitive jobs. If you weren’t a star athlete in high school, you can still gain the confidence you need to be competitive in the workplace. Dr. Lois Frankel, president of Corporate Coaching talks about self-esteem in her book Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office. She writes that people who have lower self-esteem are probably doing poorly in the work place. In her book, Frankel says that people with low self-esteem rarely speak up at meetings and are very unsure of themselves.

The Positivity Blog gives some tips to help you regain your confidence so you can compete when applying for jobs. One of the questions the blog tells you to ask yourself is: What is the worst that can happen? The purpose of posing this question is to get rid of the fear of failing. Uplifting music is also helpful in gaining your confidence. If you need to put on the "Eye of the Tiger" to get you pumping, then turn those speakers right on up — whatever it takes to bring your spirits high.

The blog also recommends trying new things. Breaking out of your comfort zone is critical to gaining confidence. A few more tips include exercising, facing your fears, and not comparing yourself to others. Being positive, of course, is also on the list. Not putting yourself down when you underperform but acknowledging what you did well is also helpful.

Source: Kniffen K, Wansink B, Shimizu M. Sports at Work: Anticipated and Persistent Correlates of Participation in High School Athletics. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. 2014.