I say yikes because I recognize that each resume represents somebody’s life; somebody’s hopes and dreams perhaps. I don’t take any of them lightly. I know that sending out a resume is like putting your profile on E-Harmony. “I hope somebody likes me. I hope somebody wants me.” It’s really tough. I get that.
And I agonize over every resume. I really do. But it’s about a MATCH, not about if you’re good or bad. It’s does your profile match our God-given dreams as a church?
Still, I operate from this assumption: your resume represents you at your best. I expect that on your resume you’ve put your best foot forward. In essence, it’s all downhill from here.
It takes me about 60 seconds to reject a resume for things like misspellings or applying for the wrong job (we had several resumes for a youth pastor position… for which we are NOT hiring) or not being able to tell which job you’re applying for (we’ve had several ambiguous resumes; and the cover letter just said, I’m applying for your job opening… which one?). And be detailed enough to know that you are addressing the resume to a Ms, not a Mr. (Know many dudes named Holly?)
You gotta love God, believe in Jesus, read your Bible, pray, believe what our denomination believes and stands for… and be a decent person and not have a trail of relational carnage behind you… and not a resume full of 18 month stints… all that basic stuff. Assuming all that…
If your spelling is all good, and you’ve correctly identified a job we’re hiring for, and told us which one, you’ve made it past the first cut. Congratulations.
Please skip all the narrative about your life story. I will care, perhaps… but not yet. A word about your family is not required, though many people include it…. “get to know you” stuff.
All I care about next is one gigantic thing RELEVANT EXPERIENCE.
Irrelevant experience is, well, not relevant.
So, if you apply for our Community Life Pastor position (click here to see the description,) the central relevant experience is this: that you have led a NETWORK of small groups in a church setting to healthy spiritual and numerical growth. You have multiplied cell groups within a church. You have created systems that lead lots and lots of people on a clearly delineated path toward discipleship. That’s what our “ideal candidate” has on the resume.
We have many wonderful resumes of terrific people who make it really hard to figure out their ministry experience. Don’t make the person who reads your resume work so hard.
What I’m NOT looking for is that you have merely been IN a small group; nor that you have LED a small group for a very long time. I want to know that you have led a healthy system/network of lots of groups. It’s not enough to be a leader; you need to be a leader of leaders. A recruiter. A systems person.
If you have that experience, then please highlight that (front-shift it) on your resume. Make sense?
It takes me about 3-4 minutes to decide that a resume does NOT show sufficient experience. I do agonize over each one. I do pray. I do seek the Lord. But the burden is on you to make your resume stand out from the pack.
I have a secret to help you do that… but first, the second position:
We’re also hiring for a Worship Pastor (click here to read the description). Here the relevant experience in leading a fairly complex worship, arts, and communication ministry in a larger church. That involves lots of non-musical stuff like budgets and schedules and recruiting. It also involves musical excellence and knowledge. It takes a good musician to recruit, retain, and even speak to good musicians.
Though it is important that you love God and are passionate about worship, that alone doesn’t qualify you. We have many resumes in which that’s about all the substance I can find. It takes a leader; a proven leader.
So, if you have that worship leader experience, please highlight that on your resume.
Now, here’s where it’s tricky: the X factor. That is some undefined factor that makes your resume stand out. I’d define it for you, but it’s undefined. So, any of the above is negotiable given the whole-package.
Except for speling. That is not negoshable.
Here’s are some secret tips:
- CUSTOMIZE YOUR RESUME TO MATCH OUR JOB DESCRIPTION. Do not send the same resume to 20 different churches. Read each job description, and modify your resume and cover letter. Be totally honest, but highlight how you are just the right person to do the specific job at our church. And USE OUR WORDS AND TERMS from our job outline, and even from our website (shows you’re going the extra mile to check us out), to show us just how perfect you are for the job.
- HAVE A PASSION. I received a resume today where a guy lists 15 passions. Uhhhh…. We’re not looking for a jack of all trades. We’re looking for a person passionate about small groups and discipleship, and passionate about worship and arts. Narrow it down. Is God calling you to “get a job in ministry” or is he calling you to “lead a church into the high praises of God”?
- ONLY INCLUDE REALLY GOOD PICTURES. Again, this should be you at your best. If you don’t have a really good picture, don’t send one. And go get one. And make sure your spouse says it’s really good. We have some pictures that I think are funny, and though they don’t automatically nix you, they certainly raise questions about professionalism, taste, hairdos and style.
- BULLET POINT IT. Please don’t make me read paragraphs of narrative about your life story and passion. The time for that will come. But not in a resume. Make the relevant stuff jump out. Don’t let your resume cause me to fear that if we were to work together, I’d be swamped by needless detail.
- TRUST. We really, really, really want to hire for these positions. If your resume shows relevant experience, we’ll be in touch. Honest. You don’t have to send reams of stuff about you. Let your relevant experience and training speak for itself, and trust that we’re smart enough to grasp it if you’re smart enough to write it.
- DON’T USE OUR JOB MAINLY TO MOVE TO OUR AREA. I am happy that you know or are related to people from our church, but I’m sure you understand that we can’t make that a factor in our decision.
- JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF GOD’S KINGDOM. Because that’s what ministry is all about, right? If it’s not a good match, you don’t want to be here. And we don’t want you here. And that’s all good! And that’s all healthy. There’s a place for you to thrive–even if it isn’t our church. Believe that God has a plan for you, and don’t give up just because it didn’t work out with us.
I’ll probably regret writing this, because we’ll end up hiring someone who violates everything I’ve written, and then you’ll blame me for steering you awry.
And that’s why there’s one more thing to say:
God is in control, and his ways are not our ways…