How to write the perfect CV to find your perfect fitness job in the fitness industry
A bold title and bold statement for sure but certainly this is a very doable task because there are some clear fundamentals to adhere to. These fundamentals are for both things you must do and of course, things to avoid. From experience of 10 years working in the fitness industry for big brands and an independent and another 10 years as a recruiter I think I’ve seen, interviewed and assessed enough CVs for the fitness industry to produce this guide to writing the perfect CV to find your perfect health and fitness job.
If you have any questions from this article at all, reach out to me or anyone in the team, we are here to help.
Let’s start at the beginning...
With CVs, there is always going to be significant subjectivity. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder you might say. However, this guide will give you the real and tangible pointers to producing a CV that will be appealing to fitness operators and also well received by the awesome fitness recruitment team at Love Recruitment. You may disagree with some of this, you may disagree with all of it. That is your right as a member of this fantastic industry. However, if you adhere to the guide laid out here, your chances of finding a job in fitness will significantly increase. I promise. So, let’s get started…
Brainstorm what it is you are actually looking to achieve with your CV
Before you start, stop. Think. What are you looking to achieve with this CV? Are you looking to change sector? Is it to go back to education? Is it for an internal promotion? Are you open to multiple different sectors? You must begin with this question.
A generic, one size fits all CV is, in most cases, ineffective and can be a waste of time and finding a new job takes….. yes thats correct = time.
Start as you mean to go on and create the best version of a CV as you can. A CV doesn’t get you a job, you do that. However, I can promise it will stop you getting a job.
For example, preparing a CV that you send to both a fitness sales role and a fitness administration role will automatically hold you back. A CV that stands out for a sales role should have elements and indicators that are often very different from the elements that distinguish a suitable CV for an admin role. Not better or worse, just different.
Hopefully the further through this article you read, the more this will become clear. Does this mean you need to produce different variations of your CV? Yes, it does if you are applying for different types of roles. It can still mean that if you are still applying for similar roles as you may choose to add more detail, responsibilities or achievements to specific roles you’ve had that are more relevant.
For example, you may be applying for a General Manager role for a large leisure centre and a General Manager for a new HIIT studio. If you have worked in a leisure centre early in your career as a duty manager, this becomes much more relevant and should have more detail on your application for the leisure role than for the HIIT studio, where this experience is less likely to be as relevant and attractive.
Take the time at this point of the process to self-reflect on what you are looking for your CV to achieve for you and plan accordingly. Do not be deflated here, do not suddenly think it’s too much like hard work. It isn’t, it’s worth the time and effort to get you towards that job you want and life you are looking for. The team here at Love Recruitment can also help hugely with advice and can even send you example CVs to help get you started.
As a guide, the structure of a perfect CV for fitness will be as follows:
Name, contact details including mobile and email. I would also add your LinkedIn address (more on LinkedIn later!). The question of a photo? This is a marmite question even for the fitness industry. My advice is no, go with detail and if someone does object to a photo for whatever reason, you won’t alienate them. However, I will say some roles in the industry require a photo or if you fall on the side of really wanting to add that profile pic then add it you shall.
Executive Summary. More information is below.
Employment history – keep this as most recent at the top, more information below! Additionally, ensure you stipulate any internal promotions, personally this is something I keep an eye out for, so show me on your CV, break it down.
Education and Qualifications. This is an important one for the fitness industry, particularly for fitness specific roles. Ensure your qualifications are listed and are clear.
Interests – more information below.
References – you have two choices here. You can list your references with their contact details, that’s perfectly acceptable. I have also seen lots of CVs simply with the statement ‘Excellent references available on request’. I do not mind this at all and I’ve spoken to many hiring managers who agree. The only caveat I would add here is if you go with the second option, make sure that when they are requested, you action immediately giving the required details, certainly within the same day of the request. You must be extremely efficient with this one.
Breaking down your employment history into key responsibilities and achievements, I think, is so important. Regarding responsibilities so often leisure job and health and fitness job seekers get this area wrong and do one of the following:
- Copy and paste their job description
- Write down everything they do in one big, long block
- Give hardly any detail at all
The way forward here is to keep this focussed on two elements:
Firstly, try and keep your key responsibilities to 5-6 bullet points. This amount allows you to add detail but not end up listing your entire health and fitness job.
Secondly, ensure they are relevant and highlight the key elements of the role you had. It must be clear to someone reading your CV at a glance what it was you did in that role. As I mentioned above, showing any internal progression in a company is an indicator of success. As such with key responsibilities, take the chance here to show how your responsibilities increased, what was added to your portfolio? How much bigger was the site you were moved to? Did you team grow? Did it mean you trained others? Did you get to go on a course and learn new skills?
So, consider what is it you have actually done in your fitness jobs so far? Take a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen and write down the key responsibilities of the roles you have had.
Apart from the thought process at the top and basics like spelling, this is quite possibly the most important area of the CV. It is your chance to add and showcase real, clear, quantifiable achievements. In an interview you won’t always get a chance to tell people, in a CV, this is your shop window! You control the narrative here.
Like with responsibilities, pause and really take the time to think about your achievements. Again, aim for 4, 5 or 6 key ones and keep them as quantifiable as possible. For example,
‘I grew the total membership figures in my club from 2230 to 2800 during my 18 months’ or...
‘Due to the processes installed at the leisure centre, we reduced attrition from 4.5% to 2.8% in my 3 years in this role’.
Lastly, give consideration to the detail you are giving to early roles in your career. More recent and more relevant roles should have more detail (CV length permitting).
Giving smaller amounts of detail or even just a line of the company and role can be enough for those early roles. For example, on my CV I just stated where I worked for my first company and the internal progress I had but didn’t add more detail as I wanted to add more of my key achievements that happened in more relevant, recent roles. I knew that was more relevant to what I was applying for and if I was asked to give more information in an interview I could. I didn’t think an application would be held back by doing this, however if I applied for a role where that experience would have been more relevant, I would have added more.
This is important. This blog is about the perfect CV for your perfect fitness job and these tips and points will 100% guide you towards that. The purpose of this section is to give some small, specific pointers of areas to consider for specific job roles in fitness. If you are one of these or are looking to work in these areas, your CV should reflect some or all of these types of elements.
These pointers relate to the types of things a hiring manager or recruiter will be looking for specifically. This section is not exhaustive as these would require a whole blog to themselves but they will give you an idea and a starting point.
- How many clients do you have? How many sessions do you teach? How do you attract and retain clients? What makes you a great personal trainer? What parts of personal training or the fitness sector are you passionate about? Why do you want to be a personal trainer? Are there any endorsements or testimonials you can share?
- What makes you a great instructor? What does your fitness job entail? Have you got several examples of improving someone’s fitness?
Fitness Sales Consultant
- How often and specifically, have you hit or missed, your sales target? How many sales have you done this month? Where is your best source of leads? Why have you been successful?
- How often and specifically, have your team hit or missed, their sales target? What has made you successful? Why have you succeeded? How do you ensure sales compliance? How do you inspire your team? Highlight your lessons and learnings.
- What are your commercial successes? Do you know your numbers? How have you and your team impacted the fitness lives of your members? What makes you a great fitness manager? How do you engage with your team/members? What are the metrics you are judged by in your fitness manager role?
- How have your audit/brand/standards scores been? How have they changed under your leadership? Can you share information on checklists, processes and success that you have had?
- Where have your successes been? An assistant manager in fitness can mean so many different things so where were your responsibilities and achievements? Sales? Operations? People? Be clear and bring your role alive. How did you support your line manager and inspire those reporting into you?
Club Manager or General Manager – Private Sector
- Financial successes, commercial successes, team leadership and development, growth in the role personally and operationally. Brand development and also brand awareness are all important areas.
Club Manager or General Manager – Public Sector
- All of the above are important but also highlight success in working with local authorities is important. Also touch on community schemes and other programmes.
- Examples of success in factors like commercial, operations, people, HR and standards that are through your people are important here. What are the metrics, why/how/when were you successful? Quantifiable detail here for sure.
- Strategy as well as action is required here. What was the big picture? What did you inherit? What was your impact and what was the journey? Tell me your successes through metrics and storytelling.
- What was the journey? Financials, metrics, brand, culture. What was the vision and what was the result? What does your next challenge look like? What does your skillset suit next?
How long should it be?
This is a slightly marmite area too. Some professionals both in the fitness industry and within fitness recruitment agency land will swear that you must not exceed 2 pages. I have never been a subscriber to this and have always been very open to CVs of 2-3 pages. If you are just starting out though, don’t feel you need to pad out everything to get to 2 pages! I’d rather see a clear, concise and relevant 1-page CV that someone has clearly put thought and time into than a CV that finds 14 different ways of saying the same thing. If you are just starting out focus more on sections like your exec summary, interests and having it well formatted and without mistakes, that give the reader a feeling they know you more. That’s more important when you are starting out anyway!
CVs that exceed 3 pages are not disregarded by Love Recruitment at all, of course not, probably not most of the hiring managers in the fitness industry as well but the longer it goes the more you are asking to be digested. CVs that we see that are over 6,7,8 pages are hard to assess for their quality. Adhere to clear, concise and accurate.
Fonts and Formatting
Read the CV before you submit it. Get someone else to read it too. Then do it again. Honestly, for something that seems so straight forward, you will put yourself ahead of so many candidates by simply ensuring that firstly the CV has no spelling errors and reads grammatically well.
Secondly, space the CV well, not big gaps, 1-line gaps between roles for example is fine and use bullet points for key areas. You can bold certain areas to aid distinction between sections too. Font wise, choose something clear and concise, the days of comic sans, in my opinion are over.
Send your CV in Word format. A pdf CV can indeed look sharp, particularly if you have elected to use a photo or logos of companies you have worked for. However, using pdf, sometimes, can hold back your CV as some applicant tracking systems do not like the format, likewise some recruitment consultants too! So, for the potential upside of a pdf, I’d always suggest going with Word. It still looks sharp and won’t have the complications I mentioned.
Executive Summary / Introduction
This section is what most people could potentially read first however some people, me for example, jump straight to employment history and then come back to this. Either way, it always gets read and is a chance for you to lay out who you are, what you are looking for and why you have applied for this role.
Ensure you give this section the time it deserves and please please check it before sending each application. People use this section, absolutely correctly, to tailor an application for a specific role. Then they send the same one to something very different, not so correct.
For example, saying ‘I am applying for this role because I love how the boutique spinning sector is growing and I want to be part of it’ for a role with Psycle is great. For a role with Gym Group or 1Life perhaps not so much.
So, my earlier advice around checking and getting someone else to check your CV before submitting, is also applicable here too.
Such an underrated section of a CV. I have been moved to contact people for fitness jobs based upon a great ‘interests’ section grabbing my attention.
That doesn’t mean it ends up being an essay of your life but it is a section that enables you to display who you are and someone the reader can identify with and relate to. This is important for all levels of roles 100% however, is particularly important I think for both entry roles and fitness roles in general. In another blog I wrote about why work in the fitness industry, I mentioned this is an industry that often recruits not just on your background but on the person. Here is your chance to tell me about yourself and grab my attention.
Know your CV
This is slightly more relevant when we start talking about interview preparation in another article but it is still relevant here and is something we really believe in. If you are stating key achievements on your CV, make sure you have an answer as to how you achieved it. If you cannot articulate this, consider whether you should have it there as in an interview, if it's relevant, you will be asked about it.
Aligning CV to other platforms like LinkedIn
Once you have finished your CV and are happy with the detail, roles, dates etc make sure your profile on platforms like LinkedIn are aligned. Recruiters and hiring managers will often check this and if there are differences in dates or even missing roles completely, questions can be raised that are sometimes unjustifiable, sometimes justifiable. Don’t leave this to chance, ensure everything adds up.
What are the no no’s?
We have covered lots of these already, just consider the opposite of everything I have said so far! In addition, and to reemphasise where relevant, here are the key no no’s…
- Spelling and grammar. Yes, I am saying this again.
- Crazy fonts, writing either too large or too small.
- Using the exact same CV for every single application.
- Not giving your CV the time it deserves. Do not be lazy and just cut and paste.
We can certainly assist you in this process. Reach out to the team at Love Recruitment and we can help you with some example CVs and give you some guidance on what you already have.
Thanks everyone. If you would now like to read about how to prepare for an interview, click here!