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Besides passing the swim test, the hardest part in becoming a trainer is getting asked to swim test! While I worked at SeaWorld, the company posted an entry level trainer position on their website. They had hundreds of application within the first 24 hours. After 24 hours, SeaWorld took down the job post and invited about 30 applicants to swim test. They hired 1 person.

400 —> 30 —> 1.

From a statistical standpoint, you only have a  7.5% of getting asked to swim test, and a 2.5% of getting the job. Crazy!

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter or read my book, you’ve learned how to prepare for the swim test. However, many people don’t even get that far.

Today I want to talk to you about how your application and resume can be keeping you from getting the chance to swim test. Make sure you check out the end of the article to find out how you can see the actual resume I used to get hired by SeaWorld!


1. Improperly Formatted Resume

Larger facilities, like SeaWorld and Georgia Aquarium, often use resume scanning software to quickly discard applicants who are not qualified. For example, if your resume does not indicate that you are SCUBA certified, the software may discard your resume and it will never be seen by a real person! Even scarier, if your resume does say you are certified, the software may not pick it up if your resume isn’t formatted properly.

Here are some tips on formatting your resume so you can pass the scanner!

  • Choose a “safe” font to ensure the scanner can read your resume! Arial or Verdana are usually suitable. Surprisingly, Times Roman can be rejected by certain softwares.
  • Do not use logos or pictures. If a facility is asking for pictures, try to send them separately.
  • Keep your resume clean. Don’t go crazy with borders or lines. Simple is better.

Bonus Tip: When you finally pass the swim test and get an interview, have hard copies of your resume printed on high-quality paper. Nothing flimsy.

For more resume formatting rules, click here!

Make sure you check out our post on writing your cover letter!!


2. Applying For the Wrong Position

You need to apply for a position that matches your current skill level. For example, I wouldn’t apply to be an entry level, apprentice trainer. Not because I think I am “too good,” but because they probably won’t hire someone with my experience to start at a lower level. Facilities assume they won’t be able to keep someone with lots of experience if they are placed in a lower level position. Why make the investment in someone who is just going to get upset and leave?

A facility looking for an entry-level trainer is looking for someone who they can train, mold, and someone to do a lot of the grunt work. They aren’t looking for someone who can start training dolphins right away and lead a team of trainers. Be the person they are looking for!

Conversely, new trainers shouldn’t be applying for supervisor positions at Shamu Stadium.

To ensure you are applying for the right position, really study the job description that the facility posts. If they are requiring 2 years working at another facility and you only have a 3-month internship, then applying for that position will probably result in… nothing.

Bonus Tip: When you find a position that meets all your qualifications, fill your resume with keywords posted in the job description. For example, if the position is asking for “husbandry experience,” make sure somewhere on your resume you mention your husbandry experience! This means you may should be reformatting your resume for each job position. Tailor your resume to the position you are applying for. Don’t lie, however. You’ll get caught in the interview.


3. You Don’t Meet The Minimum Requirements

You may not be meeting the minimum requirements for the job. Remember, the facility is probably getting hundreds of applications, so they are looking for any reason to throw your resume in the trash.

To make sure you meet the requirements, review the job description IN FULL!

In general, an entry level position will require the following:


4. You’re a Female

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is the truth.

The marine mammal training industry is dominated my females. About 80% of the e-mails I get are from females. I would estimate that close to 60% of trainers are female and out of all the swim tests I ran at SeaWorld, I would say about 80% of the people swim testing were women. Girls rock this industry!

This means, the supply of males is low, and thus the demand for males is high. Part of the demand comes from the need to fill male roles in shows. Blue Horizons has a male-specific character and thus, has to be filled by a male. The iconic Believe show had a role for a “boy” and again, had to be played by a male. Because there is a need for males, special consideration is given to them. That being said, I promise you, you will not be hired just because you are male. Sorry. You still have to meet all the requirements and excel in the swim test and interview.

What does this mean for you, ladies? Not much. Just keep doing what you are doing and go for it! Remember, the leaders in this industry are predominately women and they run the ship! “Who run the world? Girls!” – Beyonce


3 More Bonus Resume Tips!

1. Don’t worry about the length of your resume. Some people say your resume should fit on a single page. However, I believe that if you have enough quality, relevant information and it simply can’t fit on 1 page, then make it 2 pages!

2. Don’t use fluff. Everything on your resume should be specific and have meaning. Don’t put “hard worker” or “driven.” We assume that you are those things. Putting that you are “committed” is fluff and shouldn’t be on your resume. Let the items on your resume prove that you are a hard worker, driven and committed.

3. You can include non-animal jobs! It is impressive if you interned at your local zoo and held down a part-time job while in school! It shows how passionate and committed you are to this field. Make sure you include anything that could make you stand out! (Being captain of your 8th grade Trivia Club, is not impressive. Keep items on your resume as current as possible).


See an Example Marine Mammal Trainer Resume!

If you would like to see an example resume, you can see mine! I will show you the exact resume I submitted to land my dream job at SeaWorld. Is it the best? Probably not. However, it did the trick! Simply use it as a guide to create your resume!

To see my resume, simply subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here! I will send you an e-mail with the link and password to my resume! (If you are already a subscriber, check you inbox for the password! I just sent an e-mail to all subscribers with the password and link!)