Let’s look at some examples, starting with my mission and a calling as Elders Quorum President on an old résumé.
2008 – 2011 VOLUNTEER COMMUNITY LEADER, Lowestoft
- Oversaw part of volunteer organization, personally responsible for welfare of 40 families; organizing resources to meet identified social, emotional and physical needs
- Worked individually with people to support or advice on practical help to resolve problems, such as debt, housing, relationships, abuse, health and so on
- Planned and delivered group training and other activities on diverse range of topics. Mentored other volunteers to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence
- Ran a program where people helped each other by assignment – receiving monthly reports and giving guidance, support and further training as needed
- Worked with very diverse demographic doing extensive community service with families and individuals, including home visits in deprived areas to people with different challenges
- Responsible for volunteers across several towns; correlating weekly reports as well as providing support and training meetings
2006 – 2009 Voluntary Work
- Worked with local young people to help them develop personal and social skills, largely responsible for helping them organize and run weekly activities
- Engaged with each person to build strong professional relationships, including understanding individual concerns and issues and advising on these
- Delivered group and individual training on a range of topics
2006 – 2009 Voluntary Work
- Worked with local young people to help them develop personal skills largely through supporting them in organizing and running weekly activities
- Ensured for each activity that clear assignments were made and followed up on
- Chaired meetings and took minutes with young people and other leaders
Some other quick points:
- The golden rule when deciding what to put down for a résumé is whether something will help you get an interview or not. If the answer is yes, put it down, if no, leave it out. It isn’t necessary to list every single bit of church work if it isn’t going to help. I don’t! Having said that, if you haven’t got recent work experience, putting down church service does fill a gap and shows a perspective employer your good character, even if it’s not directly relevant to the role.
- If you don’t have recent work history but have recent church service that isn’t directly relevant to your career goals, some options include mentioning it, but being brief and concise, or wording it in a way that fits in more with a company’s values rather than a specific job – e.g. you were doing something to improve the community.
- Personally – and I must stress, this is my personal opinion – when it comes to explaining career breaks for family, all you need is a line in your work history explaining it. That’s it!
2001 – 2010 Career break to raise a family.
That is literally it. If there are skills and experiences in this time that are relevant to the job, talk about it in more detail in a cover letter to go with your résumé. It looks cleaner and more professional.
An idea I’m seeing more of is including direct references from people early on in your résumé, for example:
Team-leader at A4e said “Christian has a natural talent for inventiveness and creativity in his approach … .Equally capable of planning in advance to given objectives, a structured and balanced program, Christian has the professionalism and adaptability to create an equally relevant and cohesive class designed to meet the individual needs of participants in just a few minutes…[he is] an asset to any team, it would be a joy to work with him again.”
These would best be from former employers or people served with, and be professional rather than fluffy adjectives from a friend. Doing so adds value to your church service work and also may alleviate concerns about how ready for work you may be after a break.
- Avoid superfluous detail! If it doesn’t help, leave it out! No one needs to know your date of birth. It also doesn’t matter at this stage why you left a job.
- Consider changing the résumé format, for example a ‘targeted’ format gives examples of skills straightaway that can’t be missed, and again may be a way of using church or other experience as an advantage. See this link for more information about formatting.