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I have a BS in Biology, behavior research experience, and social research experience. The majority of my time over the last 11 years has been spent in the fitness industry. I opened two different gym facilities in that time taking care of every detail from design and construction to office work and marketing.

I feel that my experience translates to a qualified administrative assistant. The problem is that I have only found jobs that require only a high school diploma or require X number of years of corporate experience. I am definitely overqualified for the jobs that only require a high school diploma, but technically not qualified for a job requiring corporate experience.

I had a headhunter review my resume as a favor, and she said it looks like I only have fitness and training experience even though it clearly outlines research experience and the work I put into opening and operating my businesses.

Should I remove all references to fitness in my resume so that the other facts stand out? Any other advice would be appreciated.

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

You should include all relevant information and experience. Slightly/partially relevant items can be included or left out at your discretion, although if you have plenty of items that are actually relevant, these may just add clutter. Things that are not relevant at all don't really have a place on the resume.

It seems that while your experience has all been in the fitness industry, the actual work your performed was business-oriented. You just need to separate the task from the domain.

  • Designing and constructing a gym aren't really general business skills, but coordinating the design and construction (I'm assuming you didn't actually build the facility yourself) would be relevant in a wider area (assuming that is actually what you did).
  • Office work - what exactly did you do? Answer phones/direct calls? Handle employment and/or payroll? Highlight your responsibilities that would be relevant to a similar position in another office not in a gym environment.
  • Marketing - Go into some detail about the marketing here, highlighting things that would be useful in any industry. Something along the lines of "coordinated a marketing campaign that increased our customer base by 15%" if you have the numbers.

It would be worthwhile to list your BS degree, simply to show your level of education, even though the subject matter you studied might not be relevant.

The bottom line is this: Take the actual tasks you performed and goals you acheived out of the context of the specific industry and describe them in terms that highlight their relevance in your target industry. Don't overly embellish (or worse, lie about) you accomplishments, but put them in the right light such that they shine on their own to show you as a viable candidate for the position you seek.

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Without seeing the resume in question its hard to make general comments, but in terms of transferable skills I'd suggest that for each role that you list out, you should direct the description more toward key achievements than the job description or responsibilities.

Where you list the key achievements, the focus needs to be translating these into terms (or dimensions) that people can easily translate between industries. Metrics to try and include are :

  • the project size in money and or time
  • the number of people/stake holders involved in the communication loop
  • any legal or compliance issues that you had to manage
  • and procedures or policies you had to create, maintain or implement
  • the number of direct reports (if any)
  • the level of freedom of operation were trusted with
  • the impact on the business of the decisions you made

For example:

  • supervised/co-ordinated a $500,000 gym design/construction project, which utilised 8 different contracting companies. Ensured that the 5 key stakeholders were kept informed of every aspect of the project, which was completed on time and on budget. Signed off on the final quality of all contract work undertaken.

  • supervised the creation and implementation of all of the back-office procedures relating to the smooth operations of the business, including financial monitoring and compliance with legal requirements such as privacy and health and safety, which were critical to business operations

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