Hand holding front page of a candidate packet for a church. The sheet of paper being held includes a picture of the church, church logo, and welcome letter from hiring committee.

8 Tips for Designing a Candidate Packet


October 29, 2019


October 31, 2019

Creating a Candidate Packet

You have written the job description for an open position, now what do you do? We recommend creating a well-designed packet of information for candidates to review. Inside the packet, include the job description, quick facts about your organization, your organization's vision and other pertinent information. An easy to read packet helps candidates connect with and remember your institution. The packet can be posted to your website and emailed out in pdf form. This makes it easily accessible to a wider pool of applicants. Below are our simple tips to set your faith based organization a part through a candidate packet.

Candidate Packet Content

Tip 1: Be Clear and Concise.

The easier it is for candidates to understand the packet the less likely it is your search committee will have to weed through unnecessary questions. Most nonprofits are understandably proud of the work they do. It can be tempting to put everything there is to know about your institution in a candidate packet. Instead, keep what is distinctive but refrain from overwhelming the candidate with non relevant information.

  • Use discretion and restraint
  • Include an accurate account of the strengths of your organization. If you are able to cite third parties, all the better. Think of including quotes from people served by your organization and any relevant awards your work has received. 
  • It is equally important to include areas where your organization is not strong and wants to grow. Every healthy institution has areas to grow in and candidates expect that. Quickly outline growth opportunities and any plans to address these issues. If your organization has a strategic plan addressing any of these areas, include a reference to that work. 

Your list of growth opportunities and strengths do not need to be exhaustive. 

Tip 2: Vision & Future Plans

  • Include any vision or mission statements that your organization has. This will help candidates know what direction you are headed as an organization and become familiar with common language your institution uses. 
  • If you have a clear plan for the future of the organization, include summaries. It helps candidates to know where you are trying to go. 
Region Profile with Demographics in a Pastoral Candidate Packet

Tip 3: Demographics & Cultural Distinctives

  • Using factual distinctives helps the candidate decide if your organization is a good fit and makes your organization more memorable. Consider including demographic information about staff and the people you are serving. These do not need to be in depth stats, even simply knowing the size of the population you serve is helpful to candidates. If you have information about ethnicity, gender, educational background or socio-economic status, include it. 
  • Cultural Distinctives for your organization are things that make up the work environment. Think about everything from staff lunches, team building, benefits, ability to work remotely, office space, collaboration, and morale. Again, you do not need to be exhaustive but a little bit can go a long way in this area. If you are unsure, ask your staff or the people you serve. Ask them for adjectives they would use to describe the work environment and any specific examples of things they like. (This can be a helpful exercise since more often than not, candidates will ask staff members what they like about working at the organization.)

Tip 4: History

Give a quick overview of how and why your organization was founded and notable events along the way. This does not need to be a long section of your packet but can help the candidate better know who you are. We were working with a church seeking a senior pastor and they included a few bullet points about their history. The bullet points were not exhaustive but helped give a sense of the church to potential applicants. 

Tip 5: Easy Contact Information. 

Make sure that candidates do not have to hunt for contact information for the hiring manager or search committee. The harder it is for potential candidates to find contact information the less likely they will move forward in pursuing you.

Format of Candidate Packet

You’ve got the content and the job description done now it is time to format it. You have painstakingly edited the job description and information; it would be great if candidates poured over the information with the same level of meticulous review that you dedicated to it. However, most candidates are simply trying to determine if they want to learn more about your organization.

How do you help candidates quickly get to know your institution and the position? 

Tip 6: Scannable Layout

  • Make sure the layout of your packet is easy to read, scannable, and laid out well. To make it scannable, use bullet points, appropriate headers, images, and icons. Check out the examples throughout this post or on other cites. Make a note of what you like or do not like about the layouts pictured.
  • Select a style including color and font families that reflect your organization well. If your institution already has a branding guide, use it. If not, don’t be afraid to pick two or three colors and a font family to use. Not sure what colors go well together? Check out this color generator at coolers.co.
  • Determine what the message of each page or section is and stick to that. This will keep you from cramming too much content on each page. Having direction will allow you to be clear. Don’t be afraid of white space. Well-placed white space allows are our eyes and minds to rest for a moment. 

Tip 7: Use Images and Icons

Use some images and icons to divide up and support the written content. 

  • Use quality photos from your actual organization. Sometimes stock images are unavoidable. If you need to use some, check out stellar ones like those on Pexels
  • Make sure images you are using do not conflict with or confuse the message of the written content. This is where a third party editor might be helpful. More on that below. 
  • In addition to photography consider using icons. Basic free icons can be found on several sites. I like to use Streamline Icons.
  •  Icons and photography can help your organization come to life for potential candidates. It helps the candidate visualize themselves in your community. 
Having a third party review your candidate packet is invaluable.

Tip 8: Third Party Review

  • Finally, have someone outside your organization review your packet. We all need fresh eyes on things we produce. It’s easy to forget to specifically articulate important details about your organization. For example, a church might feel that it is obvious which denomination it belongs to but unless explicitly stated, the candidate may be left wondering and pursue other churches. A third party editor can help catch those things. An editor can also catch use of in house terms which may confuse candidates. 


You can set your faith based organization a part by carefully crafting a well designed candidate packet. The packet ultimately communicates who you are and allows candidates to determine if they are a good fit. A well crafted candidate packet also includes easy to read layout and images that are distinctive to your organization. After a candidate has spent time reviewing hundreds of potential positions, you want candidates to remember your organization. 

You don’t need to do it alone! We enjoy working with nonprofits to help them recruit candidates. If you are interested in talking with us about creating and formatting your candidate packet, let us know!