Personal Trainer Resume Guide
Everything You Need To Get Hired as a Personal Trainer + [bonus] Free Resume Builder
Welcome to the world of being a personal trainer.
This is one of the most satisfying jobs anyone with an interest in health and fitness can have. Your clients will come to you with a goal in mind, and you will be instrumental in helping them get there and creating lasting change in their lives.
Really, what could be better?
As a personal trainer, you have a choice. Obviously, you can go to one of the bigger gyms or fitness centers and get hired as an in-house expert. If you are organized and have the ability to manage lots of different aspects of the fitness world at the same time, you can become an independent trainer, running your own fitness business.
Your personal trainer resume needs to reflect the route you choose and must attract different employers. If you are looking to build personal clients you will need to appeal to their needs and wants. If you are looking to land a job, then your resume will be geared towards the business you want to work for.
In this guide, we will tell you how to pull together your experience and qualifications in a way that will get you noticed above the rest. You will learn:
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BEFORE YOU BEGIN
The ideal world and the real world
You’ve probably noticed there is a big difference between what you should do and what you actually do.
In theory we should all have a resume we can draw on at any time, in practice most of us only update it when we need to and, then we just sort of update the last one. Throughout this guide we will point out the should and we will be intensely practical about what we really do. You can take either route, both will work.
Your personal trainer resume has one job and that is to get you to the next step in the hiring process.
For the record, the whole process is a series of just getting to the next step. Step One; get a resume noticed. Step Two; Get an interview. Step Three; Ace the interview. You get the idea.
A resume is designed to get you a job, a document which says what a fantastic person you are is a bio. They are different. In a resume what you are doing is making your skills applicable to the job you want to have.
In the should way, you start with you. What are you looking for? Where would you like to be in five years? What are your long-term goals?
A resume’s job is to show the hiring manager how you are the perfect person for their job opening. In a resume you match you to the needs of the company.
Don’t loose sight of the long term
As a group fitness instructor or personal trainer you have taken a vocational role in the world and there must be reasons why you chose it, over all the other things you could have done. Write down the answers to the following:
Do some research
Your next task is to familiarize yourself with how the world of personal trainers represent themselves. Look at the bios of the trainers you know, and check out how they present themselves. What impresses you? What leaves you cold?
Read personal trainer resumes on the job posting sites, read ads too, this will give you an idea of presentation protocol, and then you can begin to assess how you will present yourself.
key words and Keywords
All industries have a vocabulary they use, you probably already know it but perhaps do not recognize it as a key word. The wording of the ad will reflect what is important to the company. These are key words. Think of them as a trigger word. When the HR person, weeding through a host of resumes, sees a key word or trigger word- a resume may move to the contact pile.
There are also keywords, these are words databases use to sort electronically. A search engine, say Google, will recognize these words and include the document in the search results.
These words could be the same. But they could not. Your personal trainer resume should include both. If you are putting your personal trainer resume on a service where someone can come and search for candidates you need to include them.
If you are sending your personal trainer resume in response to a job posting it is wise to use them. It shows the organization that you understand their language and by implication have an idea of their culture.
What job are you applying for?
Take a look at the job ad you plan to apply for, and pull out the key needs.
To the right is an actual ad where the company is looking for personal trainers.
But check out the words in orange. Boost club performance and build client base are clues that in addition to the job of the trainer, they are going to want you to help get people through the door.
Use prior experiences to tailor your personal trainer resume, to make yourself an ideal candidate.
Who will read your resume?
The hiring manager, and there may also an HR person whose job is to find the best candidates from all the resumes received.
The Hiring Manager, will be looking for someone they like, who they believe can do the job and whose outlook matches theirs.
The HR Person, will be looking for someone who ticks the boxes. Someone who doesn’t contradict the corporate ethos and should be able to do the job.
KNOW THE TOOLS YOU HAVE AVAILABLE TO YOU AND HOW YOU CAN USE THEM, OR TAILOR YOUR personal trainer RESUME TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
Job boards are internet websites where you can post a resume and where prospective clients come along and enter search criteria for candidates they are looking for. The type of resume you put onto a job board is different than a resume you send for a specific job. By definition, it has to be generic, but it still has to be geared to the industry and the general way in which personal training works.
This resume and the one you submit for a specific role are based on the same information, but will be presented differently. You might also add things in a job board resume, which you would not include in a resume for a specific job. For example, you might add a recommendation sector where you quote past clients extolling your virtues as a trainer.
Before we move on
By now you should know:
All personal trainer resumes have some elements of similarity about them. In this chapter we will look at the information you need and the things you do not.
The table below outlines the different sections and flow your personal trainer resume should have.
- Contact information
- Summary Statement
- Qualifications & skills
This is the most basic. If they cannot get hold of you, how will they arrange an interview?
Name, email address, and phone number are essentials.
Your exact address is not, but you should include city, state and zip code.
Links to your social media accounts, if they are relevant. Include LinkedIn and a portfolio website, if you have one.
Don’t include links to social media that aren’t relevant. For example, the employer does not need your Instagram handle showcasing your dog and amateur food photography skills.
This is probably the most difficult part to write.
- It is short – a paragraph or two.
- It contains a professional synopsis of your career accomplishments to date.
- It outlines your future goals.
List these working backwards in time, and put your professional qualifications first.
Add the dates unless you graduated more than 5 years ago. Your experience will count for more than the year you qualified.
If you need state approvals or licenses to work list these here.If you are recently graduated it is appropriate to brag a little. If you made the Dean’s list, say so.
These are the things which make you shine. This is a descriptive list of the things you are proud to have achieved. You might say:
Inspired and helped 15 non-runners to complete first marathon.
Last 15 clients combined weight loss = one and a half baby elephants, 10% more than the collective goal.
The idea is to pull out the highlights of the things you have done.
If you have achieved some work-related event make sure to state it here. If you run marathons or a champion weight lifter add it. If you won a gold medal in your sport, this is a skill which adds a little extra pizzazz to your application.
Things you do not have to have
All a personal trainer resume needs to contain is the information which is applicable. Anything that is not can be left out. If you worked as a chef before you became a personal trainer, you do not need to include it.
You also do not need to include any personal details. Specifically, do not include:
There are two situations where you might allude to testimonials, rather than references for your personal trainer resume. These are a little different from references but they do have a place.
A job board resume
For a job board resume a testimonial will differentiate you, and show you understand the personal side of the business you work in. This will make your resume stand out and could be the key to landing the job.
A resume for prospective personal 1:1 clients.
In this type of resume your testimonials will prove that you deliver results. Prospective training clients will need to know that you have the capability to turn them into an Olympic champion.
Testimonials are personal and helpful. A client testimonial might look like the below.
“With the help of (your name here) I was able to really kick off the pounds. (Name) helped me set the goals and encouraged me even when I wanted to give up. I would never have lost that last 5lbs without him/her”
In both cases you will not state the name of the person giving you the credibility nor their contact details – even if they are one of your references.
Before we move on
By now you should know:
Next, we are going to discuss how to put the information together in a way that is dynamic and interesting.
Have you have heard the phrase "seen one seen them all? " Nowhere is that truer than in a personal trainer resume.
How to appeal to your audience
To appeal to an audience, you have to know who they are. Not personally but in outline terms. For personal trainers, you have three types of audiences:
Specific Job RESUME
Where you are applying directly for a job you know the audience is the organization.
You can assume that an HR person may look, the hiring manager will look, and potentially other people involved in the hiring decision.
They want to know you will fit in their environment and they need to know anything special about you.
personal 1:1 clients
These people are individuals who are looking at what you can do for them.
The main goal is understanding how you can help them achieve their goal.
Your credentials are important, but really, it’s a reflection on them. Personal clients want a skilled trainer, but also someone they feel comfortable with.
Job board audience
This is a mix of the two.
You might be looked at by an HR employee looking to hire a new group fitness trainer or looking for a new 1:1 trainer for their gym.
Of all the resumes, this one is focused on you, but looking out at how you can be molded to fit in a potential role. You will need to explain the benefits you bring.
Once you know your audience, you can begin to craft your personal trainer resume rhetoric in a way that is going to appeal to the reader.
See the difference between the following skills:
“Worked with clients to build a personal fitness program taking advantage of all the fitness center offerings including the pool, weight room and steam room.”
“Constructed individual workout programs reflecting each client’s personal goals and physical ability and desired outcome”.
In both cases, you did the same work, but in the top one, your client’s keep coming back to gym in the second one the focus is on the client.
Tailor your experience toward who is going to be paying you. In #1 it is a company. In #2 it is the client.
In a resume for a job – use key words that will appeal to the company.
When looking for 1:1 client use keywords that will show them what they will receive.
When creating a job board resume focus on the benefits someone who hires you will accrue.
Create sentences that make sense, but use key words
Remember the work you did on keywords, your sentences need to include these words. A search for the keywords in personal training revealed the following as the top 20 keywords:
The key is to work the keywords into the narrative in a way that is natural and normal.
‘My goal is to help clients achieve their lifetime fitness goals though a combination of work in the gym, aerobic exercise and nutritional guidance.’
Getting their attention in 6 seconds flat
The faster you grasp their attention, the more likely they are to reach back out to you. Hint, it's about them and not you. But how do you do it?
it’s not what you say, it's the way that you say it
As culture we are so used to words which convey hype and have a level of hubris about them. Buzzwords have two effects; they can have a direct shorthand and you can get a concept across easily. But they also mean very little.
People will talk about being a team player, for example. What does that really mean? A better way of getting the same idea across would be to talk about helping colleagues, or supporting a team effort, or contributing to corporate goals.
The difference is what you did, not what you are. What you need to tell people is the benefits of what they will receive when working with you.
If you are tempted to say what you are, especially in skills section, a good way to think about it is to add a ‘what this means’ statement:
I am a personal trainer
What this means is
I help people achieve their health and fitness goals.
I am specialist in nutrition
What this means is
I can provide individuals with their optimum diet for weigh loss and good health.
The sentences in the far-right column are the benefits, and what it means to the company or people who might hire you.
Clarity above all
More than anything else you want your personal trainer resume to be clear.
The advice is to use action words. These are words like implemented, achieved, delivered, facilitated. All great words which inspire the idea that you made something happen.
Remember to be clear about the effects of what you did.
If you were a manager and you implemented a 6:00 A.M. daily call, that might be something you did. If you were to say you implemented a 6:00 A.M. call which resulted in the center having an extra 10 clients per day, at a revenue increase of $X per month, the hiring company is going to be a lot more impressed.
Be clear, make each sentence have a point and work to deliver a message.
Before we move on
By now you should know:
FORMATTING YOUR PERSONAL TRAINER RESUME
In the 6 seconds you have to get your personal trainer resume noticed, the first thing that will attract someone is what it looks like.
Even if all you do is pick a template from a word-processor or from online use a format, it will make a substantial difference. A format will show the information blocks in a systemic way, and make sure the information is presented into a clear and concise way.
Do a search for the best looking resumes and you will see all sorts of formats and can choose which appeal more or less to you.
Let your creative juices flow
This is especially important for personal trainers who are attempting to set up their own practices. Essentially what you are doing is creating a brand. This is how you present your personal training to the world.
The key is to keep everything consistent across all you do. Use the same colors and fonts. Include the same benefits across everything, and speak to the person you are going to train directly.
Beside a resume you might consider:
Follow the rules but don't be afraid to make them work for you
Yes, your personal trainer resume has to have the correct information in it, but how you pull that together is up to you.
If you want to create a flow chart – go ahead. If you want to change up the traditional format - go ahead.
Imagine for a fantastic moment you were a personal trainer to a major film star. At the top of your personal trainer resume you might put a tag line: ‘Jane Doe trainers to fabulous film star’ or you might add a client section: Personal Trainer to…film star and sports personality. Then after this section you would follow with all the other information.
Remember 6 seconds is all it takes, if you have some sort of pull like a big name, use it.
Spell Check and Proof Read
It is simply silly not to use spell check. Do it. Don’t argue.
If possible, get someone else to look your document over. Other eyes see different things and it will help the places where you spelled the word correctly, but it is the wrong word. There are also great sites online where you can improve your sentences and check for passive verbs. They also catch things you might miss.
Before we move on
By now you should know:
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Now you are ready to get your personal trainer resume in front of the potential employers. Congratulations! You are on the home straight, but there are some last-minute steps you should take before you send it out.
When did you last read your resume? Read it again. Check it really says what you want this reader to get from it.
Convert the file to a PDF when you are happy with it. Do not call it resume, but give it a filename which works. Naming it ‘Jones Personal Trainer’ (when your name is Jones) is going to help identify you and what you’re looking for.
But you still cannot send it.
At this point you could upload it to a job board site, and attach it to your LinkedIn profile etc.
If you are sending a resume for a specific role, you will need to create a cover letter that accompanies it.
The art of the cover letter
The cover letter is an art. You need to produce one, but they might not read it and go straight to the resume, so your cover letter should not contain any information that is not elsewhere- one way or another. There are 3 parts to a successful cover letter:
In this segment you tell the reader why you are submitting the resume:
- I am responding to your add
- I have long been interested in
I have a recommendation from person’s name (check with them first).
This is where you get to sell yourself.
You repeat your key reasons as to why they should pay attention to your application, and you can do it in the first person.
Keep it quite short and make sure that it talks to their benefit, and not yours.
If your application was unsolicited you can indicate that you will follow up in a few days (then do follow up).
If you responded to a posted ad, then indicate you look forward to discussing the position.
Technically it is called an assumptive close. You are assuming that of course they would want to discuss the position with you. Be polite, but assertive.
If you submit the cover letter as PDF make it look like your personal trainer resume from a style and language perspective. If it is in the body of an email, you need not worry abut the style, but try to use the same font.
Getting it to the right place
Always follow the submission instructions exactly. You are ruling yourself out if you do not. You are effectively saying ‘I never bothered to read your instructions…’ Many companies will rule you out on this basis alone.
If the routine is to submit to HR but you know the hiring manager you can copy the manager so they know you applied.
Submit was is asked for. If they say resume only – then you submit that. Do not add additional materials unless asked. If the requirement is resume and cover letter that’s what you supply.
If you have said you will follow up, then you must. If not or you responded to a job ad, you may still follow up, but you need to leave it a while.
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