While prayer and discerning God’s calling are crucial for finding the right church position, taking responsibility for your role in your job change is important, as well. One way you can do your part in finding your next church job is by learning and using the best job search strategies. As Saint Augustine said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." The tips below will help you to partner with God as you pray for His guidance and take the action steps that are needed to conduct an effective job search. These strategies will help you cut your job search time by as much as 50%, helping you attain your new church role as quickly as possible!
1. Focus on the church jobs that fit your design
There are many types and titles of church and pastor jobs including administrative assistant, youth director, children’s ministry coordinator, senior pastor jobs, lead pastor jobs, campus pastor jobs, associate pastor jobs, executive pastor jobs, teaching pastor jobs, youth pastor jobs, children’s pastor jobs, worship pastor jobs, as well as other pastor and church roles.
Find one or two job targets–that is, job titles–that fit you best and focus your job search on them. Being focused in your job search will help you to write a better resume with the right keywords; search for pastor jobs more effectively because you will only be looking for certain jobs; allow your personal contacts to help you find pastor positions, and help you interview more effectively because you know what type of work you feel called to do.
If you are not sure what church roles best fit you, here are some good action steps. One, read job descriptions for current openings on Indeed.com, Ziprecruiter.com, Glassdoor.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com, PastorJobs.net, ChurchStaffing.com and others. Read their job descriptions asking yourself if the tasks required fit you well. Which tasks would you excel in and which tasks would not be strengths for you?
Two, you can Google the phrase “A day in the life of a _____________.” In the blank, you can list church jobs that are of interest such as campus pastor, children’s pastor, senior pastor, etc. When you get the Google results, click on videos. This should provide you with several pastors who in describing their work will give you a better sense of whether or not that type of pastor and church role would fit you well.
Three, conduct a few informational interviews for church jobs that are of interest. Informational interviewing is a technique to “reality test” career options by talking with people who do the type of work you are considering. For example, if you are seriously considering becoming an executive pastor, you should talk to at least two executive pastors and ask questions such as what they like best and least about their jobs, what a typical day/week is like, what advice they would have for someone considering the pastor role they do, etc. Informational interviewing can help you to reality test what church jobs fit you best.
2. Analyze the typical job requirements
Through your research in the first step, you will know many of the specific skills and knowledge needed for the job. For any advertised job that is of interest, be sure to identify any of the unique requirements and knowledge required that you need to add to your resume (as long as you have these skills and knowledge.) Also, note the type of person that they are seeking such as someone who is strategic, organized, and has strong interpersonal skills.
3. Develop “prove it” statements for your job target.
“Proving your skills” means that you can give examples of how you have successfully used key skills in the past, and demonstrate how your past experience will transfer to the current church job opening. Studies have found that a major reason for extended unemployment is that 80% of job applicants cannot prove their top ten skills to a prospective employer. In other words, they cannot communicate effectively that they can do the job!
4. Develop your marketing tools
Job search marketing tools include a targeted resume, targeted cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and a 60-second summary that answers the interview question of “Tell us about yourself?” For resume development, check out the article, 14 Keys to Writing a Winning Resume For Church Jobs and Ministry Openings.
5. Spend at least 30 hours a week on your job search (ten hours if you are working full-time).
If you are between jobs, consider your job search to be your full-time job. Plan and structure your days as though you were being paid by someone else to conduct a successful job search.
6. Find advertised church jobs online
At top job boards including our sites ChurchJobsOnline.com, ChristianCareerCenter.com, and PastorJobs.net you will find church jobs under various categories. you will find other church jobs at ChurchStaffing.com, ChurchJobs.net, Indeed.com, Ziprecruiter.com, Glassdoor.com, MinistryJobs.com, and ChurchJobFinder.com. Be sure to set up alerts for different church job titles so that when new jobs are posted you will receive an email message.
7. Use as many different job search methods as possible, emphasizing those that will help you to find jobs in the “hidden” job market.
As many as 85% of jobs are never advertised. Don’t fall into the trap of only using Internet job boards to find current openings. See the next two tips for help with the “hidden” job market.
8. Allow as many people as possible to help you.
The more people who know the specific type of church jobs you are seeking, the greater your chances of finding suitable employment quickly. Your network on LinkedIn, and your network that is not on LinkedIn, can help you to find church jobs that you would not know about otherwise. (See How Personal Contacts Can Get You into the "Hidden Job Market".)
9. Take the initiative to talk with churches directly.
Eighty-five percent of employers never advertise their open positions; instead, they fill positions with people they already know; those who find out about the job openings through word of mouth; or, people who take the initiative to contact them directly. If there are churches that you would be interested in working at, get to know some of the key leaders at the church. If they have openings in the future, they will likely reach out to you to see if you are interested in their church opening. (See Contacting Employers Directly to Get into the "Hidden" Job Market.)
10. Be “gently persistent” in contacting potential employers.
More than any other trait, persistence is the key to your job search success. Being gently persistent means that you may need to use job search strategies that you have not used in the past. It means that you will be willing to hear many “no’s” from churches. It also means that when you hear a “no,” you will be willing to ask again at a later time (and possibly hear a “yes”).
11. Send thank-you notes (people rarely receive written thank you notes which help you to stand out) or emails each night to those who have helped you in your job search that day.
Notecards or emails can simply say the following: “Thank you for the personal referral (or job lead) you provided to me. Should you think of anything else that might be helpful for my job search please feel free to contact me at (phone number and email address). Thank you, ________” You will stand out from the many job seekers who do not do this. (For help in writing thank you letters after interviews see our article, Writing Your "Thank You" Letter After An Interview.)
12. Take the time to know yourself well.
As noted earlier one study found that a major reason for extended unemployment is that 80% of job applicants can’t prove the top ten skills for their job target. You need to know which of your marketable skills, abilities, values, personality traits, motivations, etc. will help you to do the type of church work you are pursuing. God has gifted you in a special way to make a difference in this world. Understanding your God-given design will allow you to prove to church selection committees and recruiters what makes you different from others who are seeking the same church position. (For help in doing this, we highly recommend completing the Career Fit assessment - CareerFitTest.com. This tool will help you to identify your transferable, personal and content skills and then use these assessment results to do a successful job search.)
13. Describe yourself in terms of skills you have rather than in terms of the jobs you have done.
For example, someone is not only a youth pastor, but also a person who understands the needs and problems of youth today and has excellent interpersonal and communication skills in teaching, mentoring and discipling young people.
14. Stay organized.
Develop a written weekly plan of action and keep a careful record of your personal contacts and positions for which you have applied. As stated in number nine, it is important to be gently persistent in your job search. This means always following up with churches, recruiters and personal contacts to whom you have sent a resume, email, or had a phone conversation. You can use your online calendar and “to do” tasks (on Outlook, Google, etc.) to schedule follow ups, Microsoft Excel for tracking jobs and personal contacts, or online tools such as JibberJobber.com or StarWire.com.
15. Practice answering frequently asked interview questions.
Often one candidate is offered the job over others based on slight differences during the interview. These are typically communication differences. You can build many of these “slight differences” by learning the keys to successful interviewing which include answering frequently asked interview questions. To help you with this, we encourage you to get our FREE eBook -Successful Interviewing Strategies for Pastor Jobs. Simply go here and click on the “subscribe” button.
16. Develop a strong support system.
Job search work can be stressful and challenging. When you have an increased amount of “challenge” in your life, you also need increased support. Take the initiative to create a support system that will work best for you! If you would like to find out how career coaching could increase your support and the success of your job search efforts, check out our professional career counseling/coaching services. Many of our clients who work at churches have found that our services resulted in finding the right church job in less time.
We pray that God will guide you as you take the appropriate action steps to find the right pastor jobs for your God-given design.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, www.PastorJobs.net, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com, www.ChristianJobFair.com, and www.LiveYourCalling.com.