By Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck
National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling Coaches
Are you sensing that God is calling you to a new position? Have you been praying about finding a church role that will be more meaningful and rewarding? Have you spent most of your job search time searching online for church jobs?
Using online job boards can be helpful; after all, there are thousands and thousands of jobs posted by church staffing committees and recruiters on websites. Websites like ChurchJobsOnline.com, ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchStaffing.com, ChurchJobs.net, and others will help you to find advertised openings for those seeking jobs with churches and ministries. Be sure to set up job alerts so that new jobs that match your keywords will be delivered to your inbox. Remember to add different keywords for church jobs that are of interest. For example, “pastor”, “senior pastor”, “lead pastor”, “campus pastor”. Setting alerts is a great way to save time in your job search.
The truth, however, is that many of the best church jobs—the type of jobs that people would call "dream jobs"—are never advertised online. This can include pastor jobs, worship leaders, youth directors, children’s ministers, administrators and more.
So, if you’re in search of a job that’s a great fit for you, you may need to add some new strategies to your job search. Many of the best church jobs are in what is called the “hidden” or unadvertised job market. Studies show that at least 50% (some say as high as 85%) of available jobs are not advertised online. Instead, they are filled through internal referrals, networking (including the use of LinkedIn.com) and through candidates who happen to contact churches or recruiters when they have openings.
Why would church staffing committees and recruiters not advertise their church openings online? There are many reasons. For example, many find they spend a significant amount of time and money to post openings, review resumes, and interview candidates, and still don’t end up with the right person for the job. Recruiters and churches know how easy it is to apply for church jobs online (sometimes with a single click) and this results in many unqualified applicants submitting resumes. In contrast, those who use networking and other methods can reduce their investment and increase the chances of finding the right people to fill their church openings. Therefore, many churches will choose to not advertise their jobs.
Career experts agree that one of the primary ways to find jobs in the “hidden” job market is to network with personal contacts. Just knowing that networking is important, however, is not enough. You need to have the right mindset and specific skills to enlarge and utilize your network effectively.
Here are five keys to successfully finding church jobs in the “hidden” job market:
- Focus Your Job Search
A focused job search means that you are targeting a job objective such as “youth pastor,” not a general career wish such as “doing something that uses my people skills and organizational abilities in a church setting.” You cannot find jobs in the hidden job market without being focused.
If you are not focused on a particular job area, your network won’t know who to refer you to and likely won’t feel comfortable endorsing you. A focused objective will allow your energy to be focused like a laser beam which when focused enough can cut through steel. An unfocused objective means that your job search energy will be like a light bulb which diffuses its light in many directions and lacks the power to cut through steel. Examples of a focused job objective would include senior pastor, youth pastor, associate pastor, teaching pastor, worship leader, administrative assistant and media/visual arts director. Being qualified and focused will make your job search into the hidden job market much more effective.
- Create your 30-second “Strengths Summary.”
Once you have a focused objective, the next important step will be to develop a “Strengths Summary,” which consists of three or four sentences that describe key skills that will prove that you can successfully do the work you have targeted.
A “Strengths Summary” is used to provide your personal contacts with some brief information about yourself, your objective and your skills. A “Strengths Summary” also describes how your transferable skills (such as teach, counsel, organize, etc.), personal skills (aspects of your personality such as being warm, friendly, enthusiastic, etc.) and content skills (which are knowledge areas to do the job such as knowledge of the Bible, Hebrew, computer skills, etc).
In addition to using your “Strengths Summary” when asking for advice from your network, it can also be used to answer interview questions and in some of your other marketing tools such as your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.
Try writing out your “Strength Summary” in a paragraph form, and then work with your sentences until they sound conversational. (For more information, see our article, 30 Seconds to a Better Job.)
- Develop your contact network.
Begin by making a list of people you know who might be helpful in your job search. (Think about current co-workers, former co-workers, friends, family members, church contacts, pastors, networking contacts, professional contacts, parents of your children's friends, current/former classmates, teachers, and social/community organization contacts, people who work at church denomination headquarters.)
Enlarge your personal contact network by using strategies such as soliciting referrals from your initial list of contacts, attending professional ministry/church association meetings and using social media such as LinkedIn. (See our articles How Personal Contacts Can Get You into the "Hidden Job Market" and Use Social Networking to Find Your Next Job for more suggestions on developing your network.)
- Use the power of LinkedIn.
Andrew Hickey says, "The single, simplest thing you can do to get more out of your LinkedIn account is increase your participation.” Spend at least 10 minutes a day adding to your network, joining Christian and church-related groups, participating in group discussion boards and reaching out to those who could help you in your job search. Here are steps for creating a strong LinkedIn profile, creating a network and engaging your network.
- Learn how to approach people in your network.
First, be aware of your mindset about networking. Many people avoid networking because they believe they will be "using" people for their own gain. This is a legitimate concern because people who approach networking thinking only about their own needs run the risk of alienating their friends and professional colleague
Networking, however, can be a mutually beneficial process. Yes, you will be asking for something you need, but you can also be on the lookout for ways you might be of service to the other person. From this perspective, networking can be "win-win." Be alert for contacts, information, articles or other resources you have that could be of assistance to the other person, and readily offer to share them.
Second, think through what you will say ahead of time so that you communicate clearly and effectively. For more specific guidance, see our article, Contacting Personal Contacts to Get into the "Hidden" Job Market.
- Be intentional about developing and/or honing your networking skills.
It is estimated that ninety-five percent of job hunters primarily use one job search strategy, online job boards, when searching for jobs. Job search work is stressful and in times of stress we revert to old habits. The habit for most people is finding jobs online and submitting their resume. As we discussed earlier only about 15 to 50 percent of jobs are advertised on job boards. Think about that for a moment. Ninety-five percent of job hunters are going after 15 to 50 percent of the jobs that are available. As you can imagine the competition can be intense for these jobs. On the other hand, when you find jobs in the “hidden” job market you are competing with fewer candidates and in some cases, you may be the only applicant.
While it is easier to stay in your comfort zone and only applied for online advertised jobs, you can find some of the better jobs and reduce your job search time by emphasizing the use of networking to find openings.
By being intentional about developing and using networking skills you can find jobs in the “hidden” job market and this can shorten the time that it takes to find the right church jobs.
- Do it!
Information about networking is not enough. Practicing networking skills is not enough. Ultimately, you have to use the skills you have learned and practiced. For many people, soliciting information, referrals, and leads does not come easily. But the good news is that the more you do it, the easier it will become. Learn, practice, pray, and then choose to engage with people as you encounter them throughout your day.
You never know what will come of a "chance encounter" with the parent you are sitting next to at your child's ball game or the person you meet at a friend's barbecue. Be prepared to share a little bit about yourself, your job target and your mission to work in a church setting. Next, ask for leads of people you should contact and churches that may be seeking someone with your skills. Your next church job could be just a conversation away!
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© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, www.PastorJobs.net, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com, www.ChristianJobFair.com, and www.LiveYourCalling.com