On a cool San Diego evening I sat down with a former CEO of a telecommunications company for help on my resume. Lets be honest there were a few things I didn't want on my resume (not many people are looking to hire a former drug dealer). I had no clue what a resume was supposed to look like, what order it should go in, how long it should be or what it needed to contain. Thankfully my friend, Tom, offered me some helpful advice for my first resume. Ten years later my resume looks drastically different than it did when I was in Bible College but the principals my friend taught me stay the same.
Over the last several months our church has had a few key positions open up; some were from transition and some were staff positions we added due to our growth. Open positions means lots of resumes to read. While reading these resumes I've wished many of them could sit down with Tom and get the same helpful advice I was given; I think 30 minutes with Tom would help most people create an attention grabbing resume.
Since you don't know Tom, let me share some of his advice and some of what I've learned:
Less is More
I know you think having an 8 page resume is going to wow your future employer but don't get caught in the trap. Tom taught me to keep my resume to one page, yep one page. I tried to push him to let me make it longer but he adamant against it. You have to be able to catch their attention in one page he taught me. I would extend it to two pages, if needed, but if you can keep it to one do it!
When it comes to your resume, less is more. This is your one chance to hook your future church so don't make your resume too many pages; it gives your future employer a chance to get lost and confused. You want to WOW your future church right off the bat, not confuse them.
Keep it Justified
I was 22 years old when I bought my first computer. It was a Dell computer that I upgraded the hard drive to 4GB, yep a whopping 4GB hard drive. On my computer I had Microsoft Word. In Word there is a cool function called "Justified" (this is not the Christian term). Tom actually had a resume template I used with the paragraphs already justified. When you use this Justification tool is keeps your paragraphs all looking the same. Basically it makes your resume look clear and clean. When you write your resume use this function!
Leave Out Your Testimony
God has done amazing things in your life and you want to share that! God is working in you and has saved you from some crazy things but don't write out your testimony in your resume. I wanted to write out my story about a broken home, drug use and jail time because God saved me but Tom helped me see how it wasn't helpful (remember, keep it to 1-2 pages).
If you really think you need to write out your testimony in your resume let me ask you this question: If you were applying at Apple, would you put your testimony in your resume? If you answered "No" you got the question right. Use the same logic for your church resume. When you get your phone interview you will have a chance to share your story with voice influx and passion, not in Times New Roman.
Section it Out
My first resume was not the prime example for sectioning it out well, but Tom helped me clean in up. When you look at your resume put your best foot forward; this is where sections help. Do you want your education first or ministry experience? Do you think your missions work or family information is most important? You need to decide what is more important to you, create sections and put the needed information into those sections.
For my last resume I went with these sections, in this order:
Leadership in Ministry
Skills and Strengths
Mission Trips/ Outreach Experience
I wanted whoever looked at my resume to know my family is the most important part of my life. After seeing that they could move into the other areas of my leadership, education and experience in ministry.
I'm not saying you have to use all my categories, or keep it to two pages. You may think a justified resume looks horrible and you are welcome to that opinion. I'm just another pastoral leader sharing what I look for in qualified people with a vocational call to ministry.