Essentials of a Great Ministry Resume
It’s a common question I get from people I am coaching and mentoring. What should I include in my ministry resume? There are definitely a few dos and don’ts. I’ve listed below some essentials of a great ministry resume.
Keep your resume to two pages. A one-page resume is too short and connotes a lack of experience. Anything longer than two pages is unwieldy and not likely to be read in full. In some cases, three pages may be necessary for those with much ministry experience, but three pages should be the maximum.
Put your ministry goals and objectives in a cover letter, not on the resume. Those receiving your resume assume you are pursuing a ministry goal that matches the available position. I do recommend a short cover letter describing why you are pursuing the position. Also, I’ve seen too many resumes that forgot to update the ministry goal and objective for each position. For example, you don’t want readers in Florida to see that you are pursuing a different position in Texas as well.
A doctrinal statement needs to be in a separate document. Many resume readers will want a written doctrinal statement. Send it separately if requested. Some may have a questionnaire for you to fill out. Others may want to ask doctrinal questions over the phone or in a face-to-face interview.
Include your picture on the front page of the resume. If you can, it’s better to include a picture of you with your family on the front page. In most professions, a resume picture is considered a faux pas. However, most churches like to see a picture and are drawn to the resumes that include them. One caveat: Make sure the picture is of professional quality. Do not use a Facebook picture taken with your cell phone. Hire a professional photographer to take the picture. The extra cost and time are well worth it.
Place your education and ministry experience first. Some suggest to put your personal information first, and their reasoning is it demonstrates how family is a priority. However, including a picture of you and your family accomplishes this goal. I recommend placing your personal information last, just before your references. It’s more professional and creates a better flow for readers of your resume. If you choose to put your personal information on the front page, make sure the entirety of your education and ministry experience also appear on the front page.
Tell a story about your ministry. The readers of your resume should feel your love for the local church and also gain an understanding of your accomplishments. Don’t simply list your churches as places of employment. Rather, include a brief description of what God did (not you!) at your churches. Stay positive. You can explain any negatives in an interview if necessary.
Never use the phrase “references available upon request.” Always put your references in the last section of your resume. You do not want to add an extra step for resume readers. Some may want to call your references first without contacting you. Also, make sure you have permission from all your references. It is quite unprofessional for one of them to get a surprise phone call.
If you need one, here is a template. It’s taken from my resume, but I’ve changed the information to be fictitious. I also included several tips in the template resume.