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Writing a Resume (That Will be Read!)

By Peggy Musgrove, adapted from technical writing class notes of Dr. Diane Awbrey, Evangel University

Writing a resume may be as challenging as filling out your annual income tax forms, but it can be infinitely more rewarding. A well-written resume conveys a message to potential employers about your life, your skills, and your ministerial goals. Because the resume may be your first contact with a church board or district superintendent, much thought should be given in its preparation.

What should a resume include?

First, ask yourself, “What does a church board need to know about me?” Include sections on the resume detailing information about your education, work experience, and special skills. Second, you may want to add sections citing your ministerial goals and objectives. Finally, you will need to give references, but remember to contact all persons listed and get permission to include their names as references.

What format should a resume take?

Good resumes are brief, no more than one page. An outline format, with bulleted lists, enables you to include a lot of information in a little space. Include major headings with sub-headings as needed. Brief sentences may be used if they seem necessary.

What general rules apply?

Floating resumes does not guarantee a position in the ministry, but a well-written resume may be used of the Lord to open doors that might not have opened otherwise.

The appearance of your resume may be as important as the content. Keep the overall appearance professional. This will be what the reader sees at a first-glance and will be the first impression you make.

Be sure all words are spelled correctly and there are no grammatical errors. Check all information for accuracy and typographical errors.

Your resume is a testimony of your ability to organize your thoughts. Be sure it conveys what you want to say about yourself.

Will anyone actually read my resume?

When we asked Kansas District Superintendent Terry Yancey this question, he responded emphatically “Yes.” Superintendents read them as well as church boards. Information about education and ministry goals is important, he said, but “I am looking specifically for positive results. A track record is no guarantee that the future will produce similar results, but a track record is a better indicator than statements of philosophy and good intentions.”

Is a cover letter needed?

Cover letters are valuable as an introduction, a bridge between you and the reader. Like the resume, the cover letter should be brief, professional-looking, and error-free. Use a standard business letter format such as block (all sentences left-justified) or modified block format (first sentence of each paragraph indented).

What do I need to know about writing a cover letter?

The letter should be one-page long with wide margins. Two or three paragraphs should be sufficient to convey the needed information.

In the first paragraph state your reason for sending the resume — i.e. you understand a certain church is open, etc. The second paragraph may include a personal note as to why you wanted to send the resume — i.e. you are graduating and looking for just this kind of position. The third paragraph gives contact information and availability for an interview.

Floating resumes does not guarantee a position in the ministry, but a well-written resume may be used of the Lord to open doors that might not have opened otherwise. The goal of the cover letter and resume is to get an interview, not to get the position. If the resume gets the door open, the interview will help both you and the interviewing committee determine the will of the Lord. Like Jonathan and his armor-bearer, you are climbing a mountain to see what God will do. The ultimate outcome belongs to Him.

Peggy Musgrove, a licensed Assemblies of God minister, is a speaker, freelance writer, author, and prayer group leader. She has held diverse national and district ministry positions for the Assemblies of God, including serving as national director for the Women’s Ministries Department. Her latest book, Musings of a Maraschino Cherry was released in 2004.