Your resume summarizes and highlights your qualifications for the job. Rather than a list of everything you've done, it shows relevant skills and accomplishments from your experiences and education. Use it to demonstrate your potential and to review those things you've done that have prepared you for the specific job to which you are applying.
In a resume, some information is required and some is optional.
What is the minimum required?
- Name and contact information. Your name should be the very largest text on your resume. Your contact information should be included right alongside your name.
- Highest level of education obtained that is relevant to the position.
- Pertinent experience, described with action words.
- Clean, easy-to-read formatting with no errors.
What is optional?
- All the other categories (see below).
- How you categorize and title your experience (e.g. Ministry, Related, Relevant, Pastoral Experience, etc.).
- How much of your education and experience (paid and volunteer) you include.
- The length of your résumé (1 or 2 pages) and format of your résumé (chronological, functional, combined).
Ask yourself: does it demonstrate the best of my ability and potential to do this job?
First things first. Begin writing your resume by brainstorming all of the following sections and creating a master resume, from which you will tailor your resume to the specific position you apply for. Remember, it’s not a biography; it is a summary of your qualifications and a marketing tool to highlight the best and most relevant of your experience and education.
- Name and Contact Info
- Think of it as a "business card" which communicates how the employer can best reach you.
- Your home address, phone, e-mail should be listed. Be sure your voicemail message is professional and gives your first and last name.
- A brief statement communicating your goal, your intention, or your vision for accomplishment in this job.
- Example: To serve as a youth pastor that reaches, trains, and multiplies followers of Jesus Christ.
- This is optional, but can work to your advantage and set you apart if you write it well.
- Consider any employment, volunteer work, ministry experience, and hobbies/organizations where you gained experience or used relevant skills.
- Determine appropriate category headings for your experience, such as: Ministry Experience and Work Experience; Relevant Experience and Current Employment; or Related Experience and Additional Experience. This allows you to bring to the reader’s attention the most relevant information to the position.
- List “job descriptions” that describe routine and specialized accomplishments, tasks, and responsibilities. List positive results and quantify when possible.
- Start all job descriptions with an *action verb; also consider **transferable skills that describe relevant skills and experiences that cross industry lines.
- Don't include supervisors' name or contact info.
*What are Action Verbs? These actively state your skills, i.e., what you did in your job. Action verbs powerfully convey your abilities to your readers are strengthen your resume. View a list of action verbs.
**What are Transferable Skills? These skills are essentially those you can take from workplace to workplace, from church to company, or from the home to the office. Review a sample list of transferable skills.
- If education is your strength, list it first. Otherwise, list your experience first.
- List chronologically, beginning with the most recent.
- Use only undergraduate college and above. If you attended more than one, list only the institution from which you received your degree.
- Include seminars and continuing education if they are relevant.
- If applicable, you may also list: minor, thesis, coursework or projects, honors/awards/offices, GPA (if above 3.0) for new graduates.
- This may appear as a separate category or the same information could be included under other appropriate categories, such as education or experience.
- Computer Skills
- List software that you are familiar with, including your level of proficiency, especially if it is applicable to the position.
- Language Skills
- List languages that you speak, read, and/or write, including your level of proficiency.
- List hobbies and interests, particularly if they are relevant to the position and will portray you as a well-rounded individual.
- List as: "Available upon request," unless requested in application materials.
- Prepare a separate page, so that they are available to give when requested. References may change in relation to the position you are seeking.
- Be sure to check with potential references before listing them. Include the reference’s name, title, and appropriate contact information.
- Decide on chronological or functional. A chronological resume lists both education and experience in reverse chronological order, with the most recent or current experience listed first. A functional resume groups experience and job skills according to categroy. Be concise. Write one page (if a recent grad or applying to entry-level positions) or a maximum of two pages (if you have had more than three jobs or ten years of experience).
- Make your résumé pleasing to the eye in terms of layout and readability. Quality printing on neutral colored paper is preferred; use the same header and the same paper for both your resume and cover letter.
- Carefully edit your résumé and have someone else review it as well.
Sample resumes, applicable for both graduates and current students: