What I Learned From A Day Of Reading Resumes

I spent a couple of hours on Wednesday going through some resumes & cover letters we received after posting a notice online about a job opening at Good Shepherd.

While I have gone through this process several times over the last 15 years, yesterday’s experience was more enlightening for me than any others have been. 

Several common threads kept occurring in the applicants’ material, so I want to collect the most important suggestions and offer them to you below.

So . . . should you be now or in the future in the middle of a job search, especially a ministry job search, please remember the following:

1.  Use www.spellcheck.net or the spelling program that is built into your word processing software.

2.  Make sure you correctly spell the name of the person who will read your resume.  In my case, I’m not likely to take applicants seriously who address their cover letters to “Dear Talbert.”

3.  Don’t write “here” when you really mean “hear.”

4.  Include the starting and ending dates of all your previous positions.  When candidates simply include a list of earlier jobs with no dates on them, prospective employers assume the worst.

5.  Allow other folks to describe you as “creative,” “hard-working,” “visionary.”  Claiming it for oneself in print makes a resume reader think your resume is more aspirational than descriptive.

6.  Make sure you know when it is “its” and when it is “it’s.”  Same with “your” and “you’re.”

7.  Avoid clichés.  Towards the end of my resume time I had read about so many exceptional self-starters that I swore I would hire the first person who confessed to being an average employee who only works when others tell me to.