By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Thursday, February 23, 2017
As a member of the enterprise sales team at Indeed.com, Olympian Sean Killion makes it his personal and professional mission to help people find jobs.
Because of the nature and design of the website (as well as within the company’s culture), Killion and the hundreds of staff who support the company want users to find the right job for them.
“Our whole ethos is doing what’s best for the job seeker,” Killion said of his San Francisco-based employer where he’s been for the past five years. “We asked what our audience wants, and they told us they like simplicity without intrusion. That’s what we’ve given them, and we focus on fresh, relevant content.”
With more than 200 million (and counting) unique views each month, he and his teammates are definitely finding their audience and excelling at delivering what they want.
But pursuing – and finding – excellence is nothing new for Killion, once the American record holder and the No. 1-ranked swimmer in the world in the 800 freestyle.
A distance freestyler during his competitive days, he capitalized on that pursuit to make the 1992 Olympic team in two events – the 400 and 1500 freestyle.
And while he left Barcelona, Spain, with no Olympic medals or titles, he transferred that swimming-inspired desire to succeed in his professional life.
That desire continues to push him today – almost 25 years since his final meet on the Olympic stage.
“As a member of the enterprise sales team, I meet with big, global companies that have complex needs,” said Killion from his car on the drive to Mountain View, Calif., to meet with Google.
“Just like when I competed in distance events, these large deals take patience and endurance because they take more time.”
Killion’s path to finding people jobs originally began with what he knows best: swimming.
After retiring in 1992, he got into coaching at Rutgers University (near his hometown in New Jersey) for a year before realizing his true passion and inclination was in sales.
Just as he knows putting in the work almost always results in fast swimming, being persistent in sales leads to equally satisfying performance-based success.
“Once I knew coaching wasn’t going to fulfill my continued desire to be successful, sales quickly rose to the top of my list,” he said. “I think it’s the way I’m wired. I think it’s the way a lot of athletes are wired.
“We’re programmed to seek continued opportunities for success even after we stop competing. We’re driven to find and continue it.”
Killion, who wed fellow athlete (track and field) Regan in 2005 and has daughters, Boid, 9, and Bryce, 7, involved with the sport, said he is excited about reconnecting to swimming through his kids.
While the girls are just getting started in the sport Killion fell in love with as a 6-year-old, he said he is so grateful to be able to enjoy a second life in swimming.
“Things are still really low-key with them in swimming because they’re still new with it, but for me, it’s been like getting reacquainted with a long lost friend,” said Killion, who swam summer league with the Old Orchard Otters before going year-round with the Jersey Wahoos when he was 7.
“I have a great appreciation for the sport again, and it’s really just about the girls having fun at this point.”
During his competitive days, swimming was in a different place than it is today. With very little financial support and backing (and lack of sponsorships), most athletes moved on from the sport following college – which is what Killion did.
And even if there had been more resources available to him at the time, he said he’s pretty sure he still would have left when he did.
Once he signed the papers, he knew he was done competing.
“I might have swum for another year and stayed on the U.S. National Team and done some World Cup events, but when I decided it was time, I retired with no regrets,” he said.
“I never even thought about making a comeback. I knew that I made the right decision when I did. Besides, I wanted to try other things – and see if I could be as good at other things as I was at swimming.”
Regardless, Killion said he knows his swimming career and life have gone as they were supposed to.
In his view, he owes a lot to the sport for giving him the skills and discipline he continues to rely upon in his life today – the same things his girls are currently learning through swimming.
“Because swimming is such a disciplined sport, I felt very prepared to go out into the real world with a strong work ethic and desire to be the best I could be,” he said. “I had such a good foundation because of swimming, it wasn’t a difficult transition.
“Swimmers I’ve worked with in the business world just get it, and I think that comes from dealing with the ambiguity of investing time and effort to hope to swim faster. Swimmers manage their time better, and are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. Swimming is a big fraternity, and there is a connectivity that can benefit everyone for their entire lives.”