7 Tips for Crafting a Successful Pastor Resume

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Are you trying to land your dream job in ministry and want to ensure your pastor resume doesn’t get shuffled to the bottom of the pile? Then read on for seven tips for creating a winning resume!

A pastor has a wide breadth and depth of responsibilities. It can be intimidating to figure out how to get all of that down on paper succinctly, but with proper planning and a little creativity, it can be done.

A well-written resume can help you catch the attention of hiring managers and increase your chances of getting an interview. This blog post will discuss how to format your resume, think through what to include, and best practices to help you create a pastor resume that stands out.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Why Your Pastor Resume is Important

You’re not just pursuing any old job; being a pastor is a calling and it takes courage to apply for this role. Additionally, your resume is more than a list of past experiences and accomplishments, it’s the first impression a potential employer will have of you.

HR and hiring managers are used to scanning quickly through resumes, so yours needs to contain all the essential elements, be easy to read, free from errors, and help you stand out from the crowd.

Your pastor resume should showcase your relevant experience and highlight continuing education, special training, and unique skills.

Before You Write Your Pastor Resume

You need to invest time in reflection and research if you’re going to create an attention-grabbing resume that will set you apart. Consider all your past experiences and how they have molded you into the pastor and leader you are today.

Have you been involved in any ministry or leadership roles outside your full-time job? What about significant personal experiences? All relevant learning and growth experiences can be included on your resume.

In addition to reflecting on your past, it is also essential to research the church you are applying to and carefully read the pastor job description. Each church is unique and may define the pastor’s role and responsibilities differently.

You also need to do some general research on the church itself so that you can better understand its values and mission. For example, look into the church’s history, ministries, congregation, geographical location, and surrounding community.

By taking the time to prepare, you’ll be able to think outside the box and go beyond a standard resume template to paint the picture of your unique personality and how you got to be who you are today.

Pastor Resume Format and Template

Most resumes follow a standard format. You can easily find a variety of pastor resume templates via an online search or your word processing software. While sample templates can be a helpful start, you want to create an original resume.

As far as formatting goes, most professional resumes should be one or two pages long. If your resume is longer, consider cutting out any unnecessary information, such as old jobs that are no longer relevant, or changing the format.

Also, don’t give in to the temptation to use a tiny font and expand your margins to cram more info in. That will make your resume impossible to read! Ideally, use an 11-12 point font but don’t go below 10 point and keep the margins at 0.5-1 inch all around.

Include plenty of white space with short paragraphs and bullet points. Language should be descriptive, but clear and concise.

Creative, non-traditional resumes can be cool looking and may be a good fit if you’re applying for a creative or worship pastor role. However, for more traditional pastor roles, it’s best to stick with a clean, professional resume format.

General Template for a Pastor Resume

Here are the essential elements your resume format should include. The sections listed below are typical formatting for all resumes. (We’ll elaborate more on these categories in the additional tips in the next section.)

  • Name and Contact Information: include full name, phone number, mailing address, and email address.
  • Objective Statement or Summary: a brief overview of your experience, skills, and goals highlighting what makes you unique.
  • Experience: previous work and internship positions relevant to the job you’re applying for; list the job title, company/church, and years worked there, followed by bullet points highlighting your significant accomplishments within each role. Use reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role.
  • Education: College degree, seminaries, certifications, licenses, etc.
  • Skills: relevant skills such as preaching, counseling, leading worship, budgeting, leadership, foreign languages spoken, technical skills, etc.
  • Optional Sections: awards and recognition, publications, conference or media appearances, personal hobbies, etc.

Now that you have a general understanding of what to include in your pastor’s resume let’s move on to some tips and tricks for making your resume truly exceptional.

7 Tips and Tricks for Writing Your Pastor Resume

1. Research and Brainstorm

Plenty of excellent resume resources exist out there, so take time to look at samples of other pastor resumes to spark ideas and creativity (of course, you don’t want to copy–just research and gain inspiration).

Then, brainstorm all of your experiences, skills, and accomplishments. In order to brainstorm effectively, you must turn off your inner critic and refuse to self-edit in the process. Let your thoughts and memories flow freely and dump any and everything you have done out on paper.

Questions to ask yourself when brainstorming for your resume include:

  • When have I felt most successful in previous roles and why?
  • What are some of the responsibilities I’ve had in the past?
  • Are there any unique experiences or skills that I can share?
  • Do I have any awards, recognitions, or publications that would be relevant to include?

You can also look at this post for questions to ponder on for your resume and interview process: 30 Pastor Interview Questions to Truly Know Your Candidate.

2. Format to Highlight Your Accomplishments

Are you brand new to ministry? Maybe you just graduated or you’re making a career transition. If so, you may not have tons of professional pastor experience.

In this case, you can choose a pastor resume format that highlights your education and personal skills. If you have only a couple of jobs to list, you may want to include leadership positions you’ve held in secular organizations, volunteer experience, and other roles you had serving in churches.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced pastor with many years in ministry, you’ll want a pastor resume format that emphasizes your experience and shows the progression of your career. You don’t need to include information that’s irrelevant to the role you’re applying for, especially if it’s in the distant past.

3. Craft a Unique Objective or Summary Statement

An objective statement or summary is a brief paragraph included at the top of your resume. This is an at-a-glance overview of your personality and what sets you apart.

How do you write a summary statement? Think of it as an elevator pitch, just a couple of sentences that explain the essence of who you are and your personal mission. You want it to be memorable.

Think about how you can define your individual “brand”. Also, frame it from the perspective of what you can bring to the team and how you can serve others (not just how great you are).

4. Use Resume Power Words to Your Advantage

When you’re writing your resume, you don’t just want to list what you did, but how you did it. You can do this by utilizing resume power words or keywords. These are persuasive verbs that paint a vivid picture of how you accomplished things and help demonstrate your impact.

Some examples of pastor resume power words include:

  • Led
  • Developed
  • Coordinated
  • Expanded
  • Analyzed
  • Solved
  • Budgeted

For more ideas, check out this list of 300+ power words and action verbs for your resume.

Including power words not only makes your resume more interesting to read but also helps you stand out to resume scanning software or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

5. Tailor Your Resume to the Position You’re Applying For

We’ll say this again, it’s vital that you read through the job description and tailor your resume to highlight why you are a fit for that particular job.

If you’re not sure which resume keywords to use, just take a look at the job listing. The pastor job description will likely be filled with keywords and action verbs that you can mirror in your own resume.

The job postings will likely include a list of required or preferred skills, so make sure to incorporate those keywords as well.

Consider whether they are wanting the pastor to focus on teaching and preaching, administration, care, or other responsibilities. Highlight any relevant experience that shows how you’ve done that very thing in the past, or have the skills to tackle the challenge.

6. Make sure your resume is well-written and error-free.

Although this may go without saying, don’t forget to triple-check your resume for grammar and punctuation errors. Then, send it to at minimum one other person to proofread for you!

You can also run your pastor resume through a free online tool like grammarly.com to help catch any errors you may have missed.

If you know an HR professional or writer, have them give you feedback on the flow and see if they have any tips to take your resume up a notch.

7. Boldly Highlight Your Accomplishments

Yes, we know we’re all called to be humble, but this isn’t the time to be shy about your accomplishments. Your resume is a place to show off all the great things you’ve done in your career so far.

In addition to using strong action verbs and power words, you want to be specific about how you improved things in your previous roles and reference numbers if possible.

How many people did you lead on your previous team? Did you grow attendance in weekend services or small groups? If you increased giving by 25% or led a capital campaign that raised $100,000, include that information!

If you have any awards or recognition from your time in ministry, be sure to list them as well.

FAQs About Pastor Resumes

How long should a pastor’s resume be?

While there are no absolute rules, most pastor resumes are between one to two pages. If you have a lot of experience, you may extend it to three pages but avoid going any longer than that.

Remember, the goal is to make your pastor resume easy to read and digest so that the hiring manager can quickly see why you would be a good fit for the role.

Do I Need a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is an opportunity to introduce yourself, explain why you’re interested in the position, and share additional details about your experience and qualifications. It’s also a great place to mention any personal connections you have with the church or organization.

Sometimes the job description doesn’t specify whether a cover letter is required in your application. If you have the time, we recommend including a cover letter with your pastor resume.

Where can I find examples of pastor resumes?

Here are a few examples of pastor resumes online that you can take a look at:

In Summary

By following these tips, you can create a pastor resume that will help you get the job you want and further your career in ministry. Just remember to be clear, concise, and honest in your writing and to focus on how you can serve the church and community in your new role.

What other advice would you add for those creating a pastor resume?

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