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How to Write a Resume for Personal Trainer Jobs
Writing a resume is a chore most people dread. It’s a single-page summary of you as a professional that will help you land a job. That’s a lot of pressure for one written document.
If you follow general rules for a professional resume, make it specific to the job you’re applying for. Include certain elements relevant to personal training and you should be able to craft a great resume that will help you win your dream job.
Follow These Basic, General Resume Guidelines
While it is important to follow guidelines and rules specific to your industry when tackling resume writing, there are also some general best practices. Know these and follow them, and also consider trainer-specific tips.
Keep it Professional
A resume is not the document for showing off your fun side. It should be informational, clear, easy to read, and professional. Avoid interesting fonts or structuring. Use a typical format for resumes along with more formal language. Some of your more personal interests and experiences may be relevant, so don’t hesitate to add them. Just make sure they highlight you in a positive way and skip anything that makes you seem unprofessional.
For instance, you may want to mention that you have completed several marathons. This shows that your interest in fitness is deeper than your career and you work hard to achieve goals. On the other hand, that eating contest you won five years ago has no professional relevance.
Tailor Your Resume to Specific Jobs
It’s not a bad idea to have one clean copy of a general resume. But when applying for jobs, tweak that copy to make it especially relevant. Read the job description and pick out keywords to highlight. A job for a gym trainer might include words like “fitness equipment” or “certified.” Make sure your resume for that job mentions your experience using a variety of gym equipment types and lists all your certifications. Do not, however, copy exact wording from the job listing beyond two to three words.
Order Work Experience and Achievements by Relevance
Hiring managers and employers will be skimming a stack of resumes, so yours must get right to the point. Put your work experience that is most important for a particular job first and follow it with others. What is the first thing you want this employer to know about you? If the job is for nutrition coaching, don’t lead with your most recent job teaching group fitness. Instead, start with your nutrition credentials and your job creating menus or working in a kitchen.
Group fitness instruction is a unique skill. Learn how to do it right with the ISSA’s Group Fitness Instructor course.
Highlight Achievements over Job Duties
A list of job duties under each position you’ve held reads like a boring list to a recruiter. They’ve read it before. Take a different tactic by emphasizing achievements or successes you’re proud of. For instance, if you have worked as a trainer already, a gym manager will understand that you have certain basic skills. Highlight a few big wins instead of listing skills, like that one client you coached to a big weight loss goal or the one that you helped get back into running after a major injury.
You Don’t Have to Include Everything
Never lie on a resume. But also, don’t assume you have to include everything you’ve ever done in your life, even past jobs. If anything is irrelevant, unprofessional, embarrassing, or even controversial, you are allowed to leave it off your resume. It’s likely that no hiring managers care that you babysat the neighbor kids in high school after all. Leaving out these types of experiences will also help you keep the document to one page, which is ideal. Just keep in mind that if you leave a big time gap on your resume between jobs, you may be asked to explain it in the interview, so be prepared.
Consider Making a Digital Resume
Digital resumes are becoming increasingly popular. An infographic-style resume really grabs the attention of hiring managers. Give it a try if you are creative and understand digital and graphic design. If this isn’t your strong suit, stick with the old-fashioned type of resume. A sloppy digital resume won’t help you.
Check out Relevant Resume Samples
If you have friends or former instructors in the industry, do ask to look at their resumes for inspiration and guidance. Don’t copy their resumes exactly, though. You can also do a quick online search for resume examples for specific industries. Look at several of these as well as examples from people you know who have successfully used their resumes to land jobs. A variety of samples will help you determine what your resume should look like.
Proofread, Edit, and Get Feedback
Never underestimate how easy it is to make a typo. Before sending out a resume, edit thoughtfully, then proofread, proofread, and proofread again. It also helps to get a few more pairs of eyes on it. Let a fitness industry mentor or colleague, an instructor, or even a friend or family member with more work experience take a look. They may have ideas or suggestions you hadn’t considered.
Elements of a Great Personal Training Resume
First and foremost when writing a personal training resume:
Know your audience.
In other words, consider the perspective of the person hiring for the position. Ask these questions before you start writing:
- What kind of person are they looking to hire?
- Which certifications will they want to see in a job candidate? Are any certifications required?
- What types of clients will they expect me to work with and do I have experience in that demographic?
- Is this a job for a small gym or a big chain?
- Do they expect me to train one-on-one only or lead fitness classes as well?
- Will they want me to sell training sessions?
- What is the culture of the gym and do they specialize in any particular type of fitness?
If you can’t answer several of these questions, call to ask. They’ll appreciate your interest. With this specificity in mind, here are some of the most important elements in a great resume for personal training and related jobs:
Relevant Education and Training
Your career as a trainer started with your education. List the programs you have completed, any special training or workshops, and other relevant experiences. For instance, maybe you worked with a mentor trainer when completing a program. This shows you have learned from others and didn’t simply read the textbook and finish the exams.
List any relevant jobs you have held, and under each of these describe what you achieved in those positions. This is where you can really get specific for each job prospect. If you are applying for a position that requires trainers to make sales, highlight successful sales you made in previous jobs.
This is also a great place to show off positive feedback. What was your rating as a trainer in your last job? How many client referrals did you get, and what was your repeat customer percentage? Describe some of the difficult goals you helped specific clients meet.
Most employers will require that you have a personal training certification along with CPR and First Aid. Check with each position to find out if any other required certifications before you apply. If there is a job you really want but you don’t hold the certification, get enrolled and put it on your resume. You can tell a potential employer that you are currently working toward a certification.
Skills, Including Soft Skills
What you really want an employer to know is what you are skilled at doing, what you can contribute to a job. There are a couple of different ways to show them your skills. One is to include them under headings for education, certification, and work experience.
Another option is to include a short skills section. Here you can describe specific personal training skills, such as fitness assessments, leading classes, instructing specific fitness trends or classes, and creating exercise programs.
Regardless of how you highlight your skills, don’t forget to include some soft skills. Employers of personal trainers will want to know that you have good interpersonal skills, are disciplined, can lead people, are self-motivated and creative, and that you have a passion for fitness.
Use specific examples to highlight your soft skills, like describing how you helped a client achieve major fitness goals over a long period of time. That type of achievement shows leadership and discipline as well as hard skills, like fitness programming.
How to Write a Resume for Personal Trainer Jobs with Limited Experience
This is a typical challenge for many new graduates in all kinds of industries. Hiring managers will understand that your resume is not as full of past jobs as other candidates if you highlight that you just finished school or a certification program. Even without a lot of jobs, you can highlight relevant experiences, skills, and training:
- Courses you completed
- Any specific achievements from your courses, such as student awards or high exam scores
- Special projects you did for coursework that highlight skills learned
- Skills from non-personal training jobs that are transferrable to this career, such as working with clients or tutoring high school students
- Volunteer jobs
- Hobbies, passions, or anything else from your personal life that is relevant to personal training, like fitness competitions or leading activities at senior centers
If you’re just starting out in personal training, check out these tips for newbies.
Getting More Experience So You Can Write a Better Resume
It’s certainly possible to build a good resume with limited experience. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all. But while you wait to land that great job, use your time to gain more experience specific to the skills you want to showcase.
One way to do this is to volunteer. Community organizations and local recreation leagues will be happy to take on a beginner trainer to help with activities and programs. Check in with community centers, your city’s parks and recreation department, local schools, and senior centers or retirement homes to find out what opportunities are available.
Another strategy for gaining more experience is to work with friends and family. Offer free training for your sister or your roommate. You can practice your skills and ask for a reference or an honest review of what you were able to do for them.
Wherever you are in your career, looking for a position is easier when you have a great resume. It’s just one page, but it says everything about you that potential employers need to know. Take the time to build it right, and make sure you let others give you feedback and advice.
Now is the time to change your life with a great new career. Check out the ISSA’s Certified Personal Trainer Certification program.