Tips for Your Ministry Resume - Part 2

A couple of years ago I posted some tips for writing a ministry resume. It's probably the most trafficked post I've written in the several years I've been blogging, with a few exceptions. I'm in the season of seeking to hire a couple of positions, so resumes are on my mind. Here are a couple of things to add to my previous list:

1. Slow Down. Smart employers probably aren't even going to begin looking at resumes until they have a pretty good pile to wade through. It is far better to wait a week after a job is posted and use that time to tweak your resume to the point that it fits the opening than it is to rush and send something that doesn't represent you as well as possible. Even more, on the day I post an opening I get 40 or 50 resumes. Over the next few days, that amount dramatically decreases. If you take your time, your resume may get a closer look.

2. Send it in PDF format. With new technology, a lot of potential employers will get their first look at your resume on their iPhone. If not, there's a strong chance they'll open it in a different version of Word than you used. Especially if you've done a lot of work formatting your resume, make sure you save it as a PDF rather than simply sending it as a resume. Even though it looked cool on your computer, if it looks like a jumbled mess on my phone or computer, you won't be getting a call.

3. If you list an "objective" on your resume, it really ought to have something to do with the job you're applying for. If your objective says you want "to serve Christ passionately as a pastor to students," but you're applying for an Executive Pastor role, you betray the fact that you're applying for every job that appears on rather than something that you feel might really be a fit for you. It's okay to do that; just do a better job of hiding it.

4. I said this on my previous post, but it's really important: your resume needs to include a professional-looking photograph so a relational prospective employer can picture your face when he's interviewing you. But please, please, please don't just snap a picture with your webcam. Spend the money to have someone take a professional picture of your family and include it. I got one resume from a guy who just scanned his passport and sent it along because I asked for a photo in the job posting. I would have called the guy, but his passport photo made him look like the Unabomber and I wouldn't have been able to stop laughing during the interview.

5. Read the instructions. We start interviewing candidates before we even receive their resume. Near the end of every job posting we give two or three specific instructions for how to submit resumes. Honestly, that weeds out 50 percent of the potential candidates right off the bat because 50 percent of applicants don't include what we have asked them to include. If you can't follow instructions when a job is literally on the line, when can you follow them?

6. Make sure an employer knows why you would be the best fit for the opening they are trying to hire on your front page. Your prospective employer will get scores of resumes. Try to think about what sets you apart from the other 184 applicants and make sure he/she sees that first. He'll see a bunch of seminary degrees and previous positions. Why should he/she hire you?

With a little bit of attention to detail, and a little homework, you can radically raise your chances of getting an interview, which is all your resume is really designed to do. Get in a hurry or forget to pay attention, and the job-search process will be extraordinarily difficult no matter how qualified you are.