There is no standard way to create a resume. Indeed, each resume says something about the one who created it. Sadly, many resumes tell those who receive them “I may be a good person, but I lack vision and the ability to communicate effectively.” Mostly, the resume that is poorly organized and hard to follow is the one that says this, even if the content and the references are good.
Here are a few thoughts, for what they are worth, about your resume.
Stylistically, be brief. Churches know what it is to serve on staff, so don’t give every detail of every event you coordinated. They won’t read it, and that hurts you. List the highlights. If your highlights are that you organized a trip to Six Flags, I hope that you are not submitting your resume for the position of Staff Administrator. I’m sorry to say, that is probably not enough experience. No more than two pages is a good rule of thumb. Remember that the resume is just a filtering device. They will get into the depths of who you are if you strike a chord with them at first blush.
Also, only include your picture if it is a flattering picture. Seriously. I have seen many resumes with pictures that ruled the person out immediately, because it was unflattering. Should that matter? Probably not, but it does. On the other hand, if you can’t understand how to present yourself in a way that removes obstacles, then that says something to the committee, doesn’t it?
Include these things:
Personal Information – The church wants to get a sense of you and your family gives them some history that informs that in a brief but meaningful way.
Education – The committee may not have a minimum standard or they may, but one way for your resume to be filtered out is by not answering questions that they will have for every candidate. Education is a question that will be asked of everyone, so answer it up front.
Experience – Again, be brief. List positions held, dates served and major accomplishments. I only put years, eg. 1999-2001 as opposed to the full dates of hire. I find that this is enough information without being too much information. Also, I can’t remember all of the start and stop dates from 21 years ago and I never recorded them. It’s never mattered to any committee and it sure doesn’t matter to me.
Vision Statement/Ministry Philosophy – This is the personal touch that you are trying to use to find some resonance with the search committee. A lot of guys I know use this paragraph to say things that will go over with just about anybody. They look not to offend. I do the opposite, and it has brought me times of no contact or responses from folks that are “not interested.” While it may be frustrating at the time, I console myself with the thought that they would part ways with me later, or that if they did call me, we might not get along. I also console myself with the thought that the committees that have shown interest are greatly interested. I have set myself apart in their eyes and I always seem to rise to the final person or group. In fact, since taking that direction, I don’t recall ever being dropped by a church, though I have turned some down. They knew who they were getting and it really helped.
Also, make sure it fits the napkin test. It must be concise enough to be understood and yet written on the back of a napkin. That’s communication.
References – I know some guys that furnish references on request. I furnish them up front for two reasons. If they want to know more about me, then that is a good thing and I don’t want them to have to overcome a barrier to do it. Also,my hand picked references should be great opportunities. By the way, never put someone down as a reference without first asking their permission and also without knowing exactly what they will say about you. I ask my references to tell me what they would tell a committee if they called, and then a quiz them as best I can. If you are unsure, don’t list them. The quickest way to have your resume work against you is for you to encourage the committee to call someone who undermines you.
The second reason I furnish references up front is that who I put on the resume says something about me. I not only list the name and the contact, but I list how we know one another. Then I am sure to list people who have worked over me, under me and alongside me, as well as lay people.
Alright. Any questions? Any additions? Any challengers? Take your shot.