Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working with some clients to spice up their resumes. That got us thinking. When an employer looks at resumes, what causes one go into the yes pile, while others go into the no? In order to answer this question, we did a little research and reached out to employers from South Dakota, to Minnesota, to Ohio. These employers gave some general advice, and some advice specifically for ministry related jobs. Here’s what they said below:


  • Highlight what you’ve done. Don’t just regurgitate your job description. How have you excelled at it? Maybe you’ve found a way for your organization to save money by switching suppliers. Say that. Don’t just put, “Ordered supplies,” but rather, “Saved the organization 20% on paper by switching to Dunder Mifflin.” If you were a employer, who would you want to hire?
  • While education is important, people care a lot more about what you’ve done than what you’ve learned. Unless you have little to no work experience, keep your degrees for the end of your resume. Employers across the board wanted to know what you would do in the position, how you will advance the organization, not just what you’ve learned. Show them what you’ve done in your past or current positions so they know that you will do great things for them in the future.
  • Follow the application instructions and if possible, go above and beyond. One employer specifically mentioned a major job posting site. Candidates have the opportunity to fill out a profile and upload their resume as a PDF. However, some seekers simply used a cut and paste feature and put their resume info into a box instead of uploading it. This meant that the employer had to format resumes, which didn’t always happen. Follow the directions thoroughly.
  • When in doubt (or if not otherwise noted), use a PDF format! Not every computer has Microsoft Word and not everyone uses Google Docs. PDF is a universal format that all computers can read. Neglecting to do this may mean that your resume doesn’t get seen.
  • Longevity and stats do matter (even in the ministry). Jumping jobs year after year, or simply completing your job’s minimum requirements doesn’t make you stand out as a candidate. If you want your dream job, you’ve got to put in the time and the work.
  • Use action verbs. Did you write a policy or did you spearhead the creation and implementation of it? One sounds a lot stronger than the other. Of course, be honest. However,  through our research we found that people went one of two ways. Either they embellished their accomplishments with action verbs, or they didn’t give themselves enough credit. Take an honest look at what you did and use words that match that.  By the way, here’s a great list of verbs to get you started.
  • And finally… it’s probably a good idea to make changes to your resume for each job you are applying for. Canvassing employers with a generic resume will probably land yours in the trash.


  • Use PDF if no other format is specified. (Do you see a theme here?)
  • Consider sticking to black and white. While color can give it a nice pop (and is expected in some fields), some employers print resumes. Churches are especially known to do this since they are often distributing resumes to several committee members. Chances are, they aren’t going to print it in color. Black and white (or grayscale) is always a safe bet.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. You may have an employer who doesn’t care if you have a typo, but do you really want to chance it?
  • Keep it clean, use easy to read fonts and do not make your font so small that someone can’t read it. (We’ve all been tempted to do this so that we can fit as much as possible in thanks to our last piece of advice).
  • Last, stick to two pages. Your resume shouldn’t be more than two pages long. That means you may have to condense or cut things, but if you were looking at 20-30 resumes at a time, you probably aren’t going to flip through ten pages.

Hopefully, our research will give you a leg up on your job hunt and help you get an interview. Here’s to landing your dream job!

Do you have any job hunting tips? We’d love to hear them! Comment below to share.