5 Essential Elements of A Great Pastoral Resume

Can I let you in on a ChurchJobs staff secret? It’s actually a bit depressing, but are you ready for it?

We see a lot more terrible resumes than we do good ones. Like a lot...

Which is sad, because a resume is often the first impression a church gets of a candidate. This simple sheet of paper is actually incredibly important! Yet the reality is that many of the resumes we see are disorganized, unclear and, worst of all, not spell checked!

So here are a few tips to help you craft an impressive resume that stands out.

 

Can I let you in on a ChurchJobs staff secret? It’s actually a bit depressing, but are you ready for it?

We see a lot more terrible resumes than we do good ones. Like a lot...

Which is sad, because a resume is often the first impression a church gets of a candidate. This simple sheet of paper is actually incredibly important! Yet the reality is that many of the resumes we see are disorganized, unclear and, worst of all, not spell checked!

So here are a few tips to help you craft an impressive resume that stands out.

Shape It to Flow Clearly

Your resume outlines the story of your job journey. So, like any story, it should flow in a way that makes sense to the reader. Ensure categories have clear titles (Education, Work Experience, Honors and Awards, etc) and that the information within those sections is structured in a consistent, typically chronological, way. Those reviewing your resume should be able to quickly look at key components of your resume and see a logical timeline and understand how your career has brought you to where you are today.

Make It Both Personal and Professional

Perhaps a slight difference between resumes in the business world and those in ministry, is that pastoral candidates can often benefit from adding some personal touches to their resume that might not be accepted in a typical corporate setting.

Since ministry roles often require candidates to engage with congregants in personal ways, churches appreciate getting a sense of a candidate's personality, perspective and personal interests. Adding a photo of yourself or your family can help churches feel a bit more connected to you as a candidate.

In some cases, adding a Skills or Hobbies section might be appropriate and help the church get a pulse for how your interests align with the church demographic. Of course, this is still a professional document so don’t get too casual, but adding small, personal touches help affirm that you’re not crazy or creepy - you’re actually someone who people would be able to relate to and engage with in ministry.

Highlight Your Unique Value

What about your wiring, abilities and experiences makes you the perfect fit? At the end of the day, that’s what churches are trying to figure out…so help them discover that!

Effective resumes often include a concise personal statement. This concise (are you noticing that key word again?) statement should speak to things like who you are, what you’re good at and why you’re passionate about those things.

Take some time to reflect on your past experiences…

  • What have you enjoyed most?
  • When have you delivered incredible results?
  • What common threads have you seen in your ministry so far?

Then take time to craft a powerful summary statement that helps churches get a quick synopsis of who God’s made you to be. I should note that this is different than an “Objective” statement. A number of resumes we see include objective statements, which we tend to think are pretty pointless.

Let’s be honest - your real objective is to get the job! So instead of using that space for an Objective statement, use it to share the distinct value you bring to the table.

Ensure Integrity and Accuracy

As sad as it is to say, I have encountered countless pastoral resumes that have included flat out lies. Fake church addresses, unattained education, exaggerated experiences, relatives impersonating professional references...and the list goes on.

There’s no quicker way to be disqualified as a candidate than for people to discover you’ve been dishonest. Ensure that what you say is true and can be validated by coworkers, congregants or past bosses.

While it’s good to customize your resume a bit to the role you’re applying for, don’t be so desperate to align that you exaggerate facts, portray a false image of yourself or straight-up lie. Our unique experiences and beliefs can sometimes bring incredible value to churches that may need a fresh perspective. Or, our beliefs and views may keep us from ending up in a work environment that would create stress and lack of alignment.  Be sure that you are not only telling the truth, but are accurately portraying who you are and are not trying to become something just because you want a job.

Verb-Optimize and Spell-Check

As ministry leaders, we know that words matter. And that’s no different when it comes to our resumes. When shaping the work experience portion of your resume, take time to select action-oriented verbs that cast vision and vividly portray the work you’ve done. Strive to avoid repeating words which will help to keep your resume more interesting and display a stronger vocabulary. For a list of great words to use in your resume check out our blog post on 100 Action Verbs to Ensure Your Resume Shines.

In addition to optimizing your resume through the use of powerful verbs, be sure to take time and spell check everything. Read your resume out loud slowly. Stay attentive for misspellings, proper use of homophones (for example - their, there, they’re) and accurate punctuation. It’s often wise to have a family member or friend review your resume as well. Getting some fresh eyes on your resume can be a great way to catch errors you’ve become blind to.

If you could benefit from having some additional, professional support in crafting your resume, sign up now for our affordable, personalized Resume Support. Our team will work with you to create a customized, eye-catching resume so you can kick-start your job hunt with confidence.