9 Ways to Make Your Ministry Résumé Stand Out

You can make your resume stand out without being cutesy. (Flickr )

Most people in vocational ministry will be required to send a ministry résumé at some point. I often hear from many ministers that they can't seem to get a positive response from churches or other organizations where they would like to be considered. Perhaps the problem is with their résumés.

So I spoke to several church and organizational leaders who were responsible for culling through ministry résumés. I asked them what made a particular résumé stand out from others.

Here are their top nine responses:

1. A highly qualified person proofread the résumé for grammar, style and appearance. I am amazed at the number of résumés that were rejected because of poor grammar and style. One leader on a search committee said, "If they are sloppy on their résumés, we assume they will be sloppy in their ministries." This factor, by far, was No 1. Simply having your résumé carefully proofread will make it stand out from the crowd.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

2. There are no gaps in dates of employment. If you had a season of unemployment, it is best to explain it on the résumé. Any unexplained gaps may cause your résumé to be put aside.

3. The résumé had a great photo. First, the leaders with whom I spoke very much wanted to see a photo on the resume, either an individual or family shot. Second, the quality of the photo must be excellent. Again, a photo of poor quality communicates that the applicant is sloppy and uncaring. One search committee member told me that two-thirds of the résumés included "terrible quality" photos.

4. The résumé presented statistics clearly and truthfully. While most of those with whom I spoke really appreciated seeing such statistics as attendance, receipts and others, they said that often the statistics could not be confirmed with other sources.

5. The applicant only sent what was requested. If only a résumé was requested, send only a résumé. Those in the search process are often put off by supplemental information they did not request.

6. The résumé included a narrative of accomplishments rather than just positions with dates of employment. Those in vocational ministry are often reticent to brag about accomplishments in ministry. Don't be shy. Those on the receiving end desire to hear from you about these matters. Many good résumés, I was told, label this part of the resume "God's Work at ABC Church." That approach provides a good summary of the accomplishments while giving credit and glory to God.

7. The order of the details on the résumé reflects the priorities of the organization more than the applicant. So an applicant for a professorship at a seminary might begin with academic credentials. An applicant for pastoral ministry might begin with ministry experience.

8. Most of the résumé uses the active tense. I use the passive tense in some of my writings, but resumes sound better in the active tense. "I fulfilled the assignment" thus sounds better than "The assignment was fulfilled by me."

9. Good résumés avoid cutesy attempts to stand out. One rejected résumé had five different font sizes. Another used four different font colors. And even another sent the entire résumé as a QR code. All were rejected.

These nine items are not radical matters. They do not require huge investments of time and money. But if a person heeds the advice in all nine of them, his or her résumé will likely stand out from over 90 percent of the others.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of Lifeway Christian Resources. For the original article, visit lifeway.com/pastors.

This article originally appeared at ThomRainer.com, and is used with permission. 

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Dr. Mark Rutland's

National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)

The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!

FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.

Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.

The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.

Charisma Leader — Serving and empowering church leaders