5 Ways to Keep Your Resume for Church Jobs Out of the Trash

By Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck

5 Ways to Keep Your Resume for Church Jobs Out of the Trash

No one wants their resume to go directly into the “No!” pile when applying for a church/ministry job opening. So, what does your resume need to have to make it into the “Yes!” stack?

First, your resume needs to demonstrate that you are qualified for the ministry position. Beyond your qualifications, however, church search committees are also concerned about your sense of calling for the ministry job for which you are applying. They want to know who you are as a person and how you see the job fitting your goals and gifts. The following are five tips to keep your church job ministry resume “out of the trash.”


1. More Is Not Better

Before even reading the whole resume, the appearance and structure of your resume creates a first impression. You may be tempted to list all of your jobs, accomplishments and volunteer experiences in your ministry resume thinking the more information, the better. However, in a resume, more information—particularly information not related to the job opening—can make it more difficult for the search committee to see the qualifications and experience that really matters. Ideally, your resume should be no longer than two pages. Though it should be concise, it must also be descriptive, free from spelling and grammatical errors as well as distracting or unusual fonts and formats.


2. Customize Your Resume for the Position

Many church employers will receive more than 100 resumes for a church opening. Studies show that resumes only receive 6-30 seconds of time from an employer. These days many resumes initially are not seen by a human eye, but are reviewed by an ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) that scans for key words to determine if your resume goes on to the next step to be reviewed by a hiring team or goes into the “No” pile. Even if your resume is not scanned by an ATS system, you want to tailor your resume for the skills, knowledge and experience that a church or ministry is seeking in the job description. Customizing your resume for each job you apply to is critical for showcasing how you can meet an employer’s needs.


3. Highlight Your Personal Skills

Many applicants for a church job will have the needed experience and education. Beyond the basic qualifications, however, churches and ministries are interested in knowing who you are as a person. You can help them get to know you by highlighting personal skills that describe your personality such as being warm, friendly, persistent, creative, organized, analytical and empathetic. You can stand out from other candidates by providing examples of your personal skills within your resume and during the interview. While other candidates may have similar experiences and abilities, they will not have the same combination of personal skills. 


4. Include Prove-it Statements

Proving your skills means that you give examples of how you have successfully used key skills in the past, and demonstrate how your past experience will transfer to the current church job opening. Studies have found that a major reason for extended unemployment is that 80% of job applicants cannot prove their top ten skills to a prospective employer. In other words, they cannot communicate effectively that they can do the job! Your “prove it” statements in your ministry-based resume will provide evidence through specific examples that prove you can do the job. Here are two examples:

  • Created a promotional brochure for a ministry event that was attended by 500 people, a 125% increase in attendance over the previous year.
  • Successfully spearheaded a capital funds campaign to retire mortgages totaling $400k on two buildings within a two-year period.


5. Include Your Ministry Goal

The best place to state your goal for a church job is at the top of your resume in the form of an objective or branding statement. Your resume objective or branding statement is a short, targeted statement that tells the employer that you are focused and it makes sense for them to take time to look at the rest of your resume and set up an interview with you. The objective can be as simple as the title of the job for which you are applying, such as “Campus Pastor”; or a branding statement as short as “Experienced Senior Pastor.” A branding statement can be centered at the top of your resume under your contact information.

“But I thought objectives were outdated. I was told not to use them!” you may be thinking. You definitely want to avoid the old format for objectives that primarily described what the job seeker wanted such as “Seeking a well-paying job with great benefits where I can grow and develop professionally.” A self-focused objective will expedite your resume’s path to the trash.



Following these five tips will help you develop a church/ministry resume that showcases how you can meet a church’s needs. You can learn more about writing a successful church/ministry resume by reading the article, How to Write a Resume For Church/Ministry Jobs That Gets Results.


Professional Career Coaching, Job Search & Resume Writing Assistance

Are you still feeling uncertain about writing your resume? A professionally prepared church/ministry resume can dramatically increase responses and interviews from church employers. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. If you would like a professionally-produced resume, a career counselor will interview you about your skills, abilities, gifts and experiences, and then create a targeted resume that powerfully showcases your qualifications for the job you want!


© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, and All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.