Resume Tips For Health, Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness Professionals

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Are you a seasoned wellness professional getting ready to make your next career move? Bad news: Your resume almost certainly contains these five mistakes. Good news: They’re easy to fix.

Let’s take it from the top:

1) Pointless statement of purpose

All together too many resumes start with a “Purpose” statement at the top. It usually looks like this:


Seeking senior position in growing and successful fitness center that will allow me to help others realize their full potential while fully utilizing my education and skills

Well, gosh, we’d all like that, wouldn’t we? Let’s throw in world peace while we’re at it!

The problem is that this statement gives the person reviewing your resume no reason whatsoever to call you in for an interview. It tells them nothing about your qualifications and accomplishments for the kind of position you’re seeking.

Experienced Customer Service Director

Successfully motivates membership staff to provide great service despite tight headcount and budget.

Key skills: Hiring and retaining highly empathetic and service-oriented employees, maintaining employee job interest and low turnover through cross-training and special projects.

Which resume would get your attention?

2) Tasks vs accomplishments

When you describe your current and previous job history, focus on your results and accomplishments. Don’t simply list the tasks you performed.

Instead of:

Corporate wellness manager

  • Met with corporate clients four times/year.
  • Supervised trainers and instructors and developed staffing schedules.
  • Completed monthly reports on facility usage and member activity.
  • Scheduled executive physicals.

Reads like your job description, doesn’t it? Instead, try this:

Corporate wellness manager

  • Oversaw day-to-day fitness center management for five largest corporate accounts totaling $700,000 in revenues, 10 employees and 2000 members
  • Introduced six new classes which received highest satisfaction ratings ever from members
  • Reduced employee turnover to virtually zero by encouraging staffers to experiment with new fitness techniques

3) I was born a small child in…

Two things to watch for here. First, give the most weight (and space) to your most recent accomplishments:

  • Go into more detail on the scope and results of your current or most recent positions.
  • Provide progressively fewer details about older positions.
  • And yes, you can absolutely leave out temp jobs, short-term positions, jobs you held twenty years ago, and the like.

Second, most personal details just don’t belong on resumes. In fact, they often make the applicant look clueless about how business works.

In general, omit the following:

  • Your hobbies (you can mention them in the interview if appropriate)
  • Whether or not you’re married or have kids or a life partner (not appropriate)
  • Where you were born and all the towns you lived in growing up (totally irrelevant)
  • If you have a college degree, skip the name of your high school (it just doesn’t matter — even if you were president of the National Honor Society)
  • All the details about your minimum wage and temporary jobs early in your career (this isn’t your biography)
  • Organizations totally unrelated to the position you’re seeking, or those potentially a turn-off for many interviewers (say, local chair of the National Smokers Alliance).

4) But everyone knows what ADL means!

Oh yeah? Google it and see how many different ways ADL is used! And that’s just one example. Even health and wellness professionals have different levels of familiarity with jargon and abbreviations you take for granted. Plus, the person who initially screens resumes usually won’t have a health and wellness background. They’re just a low-level human resources assistant.

Show your resume to a friend who doesn’t work in health and wellness. Ask them to circle the terms they don’t understand or recognize and check these frequent gotchas:

  • Are you using ambiguous terms? For example, PT could mean personal trainer…physical therapist…or pulmonary technician.
  • Are the terms truly widely used? For example, would everyone — even an HR person — really know that ADL means “activities of daily living”?
  • Are you using internal project, process and system names that are unique to your current employer? For example, if you represented your department on the PPPHIR team, spell out “Patient & Professional Partnership for Hospital Infection Reduction”. Better yet, just say “Infection Control Initiative.”
  • Or if you used your health club’s “3M” program with clients, spell out “Member Metabolic Measurement Program” on your resume.

5) Much too much

Always remember that the purpose of your resume is simply to create enough interest that you get invited to the next step — usually a phone or face-to-face interview. It’s NOT your life story, your professional biography or a curriculum vitae that includes everything you’ve ever done.

Hiring managers and human resources departments scan resumes, usually for about 30 seconds. So keep it short, sweet and focused on your “greatest hits”.

(And don’t squeeze the margins and use 8-point fonts — that’s cheating! It looks ugly and it’s hard to scan quickly.)

  • If you’ve got less than five years of experience, your resume should fit on one page using normal spacing and normal font sizes.
  • If you’ve got five to ten years of experience, aim for keeping it on one page — but if you’ve really got some amazing accomplishments, it might be OK to slip onto that second page.
  • Once you’ve got 10-20+ years of experience, you’ve probably got enough accomplishments to justify two pages — but no more!

Pare things down to the highlights — the really, really good stuff that’ll get a hiring manager (or human resources department’s) attention. That’s usually 3-5 bulleted accomplishments per position, with a brief description the scope of the position, of what you accomplished and how you did it.

Generally, you’ll want more accomplishments for more recent positions, fewer for older positions.

And it’s perfectly OK to group or omit trivial and/or ancient positions. Feel free to ignore the hourly jobs you had during college. And if you had, say, four short and unremarkable positions as a personal trainer in big-box health clubs while you were finishing your graduate exercise science degree twenty years ago, feel free to lump them all together like this:

Personal Trainer — various national health club chains, 1990-1993

Last, remember to use appropriate keywords in your resume — the words that hiring managers have likely told HR to watch for. They use these keywords to search databases of resumes on sites like LinkedIn. Examples: “certification” or “corporate wellness” or “cardiac rehabilitation.”