By Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck
There are two big mistakes that job seekers make when trying to obtain church jobs or ministry openings: (1) unproductive methods for finding church jobs, and (2) ineffective interviewing skills. On average, people change jobs eight to ten times (or more!) in their lifetime, so it makes sense to learn and use the very best job search strategies that can cut your job search in half. In this article, we will explore how you can avoid using unproductive job search methods and instead plan your job search around using the best strategies in finding the right church jobs.
The Two Job Markets for Church and Ministry Jobs
There are two different job markets in which jobs are found: the advertised (or organized) job market, and the hidden (or disorganized) job market. Understanding and utilizing both of these job markets will allow you to find job openings much more expediently and efficiently.
The advertised job market is the one that is most familiar. It includes jobs that are found on the Internet on websites such as ChurchJobsOnline.com and ChristianCareerCenter.com, as well as through employment and recruiting agencies. The jobs are organized and readily accessible. It is the most popular job market because it is the easiest to access.
How to Find Church Jobs in the Hidden Job Market
Some job seekers have heard of the hidden job market, but few job hunters know the strategies for finding jobs that exist in it. And even fewer understand how to create a job search plan for finding these jobs in an intentional manner.
While the majority of job hunters seeking church jobs rely on the advertised job market to find employment, it is estimated that only 15-20% of the available jobs are advertised. As you can imagine, only using the advertised job market makes the job search process slower and more frustrating. Not only is there a small percentage of church job openings listed online, but applicants will find more intense competition because of the large number of job hunters who use church job boards and other general job boards like Indeed.com. Some job hunters even give up on their search for church and ministry jobs because they either see no openings on job boards for the type of work and location they are seeking, or they get no responses to the resumes they have sent.
The high percentage of church ministry jobs that are available at any given time are found in the so-called hidden job market. The jobs are "hidden" because they are filled without churches advertising them on the Internet. Finding these jobs involves a more proactive and strategic approach. Job seekers find out about job openings through developing personal contacts and contacting employers directly (whether or not a church is advertising job openings). Phone calls, referrals, and interviews are the keys. This market is more difficult to access but tends to yield much more fulfilling and rewarding work.
Are you wondering why many church job openings are found in the hidden job market? It is because many churches have found that advertising a position is not always the best way to find qualified candidates. Besides the expense of advertising a position, a job posting online can bring in hundreds of resumes from unqualified people. These days there are many job boards that allow a job seeker to apply for a job with the click of a button which results in many unqualified applicants. It then takes a church search committee and/or other church staff time to go through these resumes and, even then, very little is known about the candidates that are applying for specific church jobs. Because of this, it is no surprise that one study found 85% of all employers don't advertise job openings at all!
Instead of sifting through resumes and spending hours interviewing unqualified candidates, church staffing committees and recruiters more typically hire people they already know, or people that are referred to them, or those who find out about the job openings and contact the organization. Therefore, if you contact a church that has an unadvertised opening, you could end up being one of just a handful of candidates they interview for the position. The odds are certainly more in your favor than if yours is one resume among hundreds that are received in response to a church job posting.
It's Not Who You Know, It’s Who You Are Willing to Get to Know
You may have heard the saying that it is not what you know, but rather who you know that leads to success. There are many times that this is true related to finding out about church job openings. But what is truer, is the saying it is not who you know, it is who you are willing to get to know that can lead to success in landing a church job.
The way that this has worked for many of our clients is developing and intentionally carrying out an effective networking plan. A networking plan may look like this: You contact Bill, letting him know that you are currently exploring teaching pastor jobs, and ask him about any churches that he is aware of that are hiring. You also ask Bill if he knows of any people who work at churches who would be good for you to contact. Bill may say that he doesn’t know of any churches that are hiring; however, he says that it would be good for you to talk with Andy because Andy works in a large church and may know of teacher pastor opening at his church or other churches. You ask Bill for the contact information of Andy and also if it is OK for you to tell Andy that you were referred to him by Bill. You then contact Andy and Andy says, “You know who you should really talk to is John.” You contact John and John ends up telling you about an opening at their church and how you can apply.
The goal of contacting any given person is to get the names of a couple of other people whom it would be good for you to contact. By doing this intentionally, you will learn about ministry openings about which you would otherwise not have known. Jobs identified in this manner would be examples of church jobs in the hidden job market.
These days most people have an online network (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) and an offline network. It is a good strategy to take a few minutes each day to add new connections on LinkedIn, Facebook or other social networking sites. If you only have time to focus on one of these sites it is recommended that you use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the best place to network with people professionally.
To add contacts each day, it is good to make a list of people you know who might be helpful in your job search. Add anyone that you know as everyone has a wealth of information that you can trigger by asking the right questions. It is impossible to accurately predict who will help you and who won’t. Also, remember ultimately it is not who you know but who you are willing to get to know. For example, a person that you introduce yourself to at an association meeting could know about a new job being developed at their company that would love to do.
Here is a trigger list to help you brainstorm people that you know:
Family (parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, distant relatives)
Your significant other’s family and friends
Friends of your parents
Former and/or current classmates, professors, teachers
Builders, plumbers, electricians, hairstylist, etc.
Parents of your children’s friends
Current and past coworkers
Church groups and members
Pastors, priests, rabbis and other religious leaders
Current and former employers
Former clients and/or customers
Professionals (Doctors, Dentists, Attorneys, CPA, Psychologists, Bankers, Veterinarian, Realtors, Insurance Agents, etc.)
Chamber of Commerce members
Owners and staff at stores you frequent
Most people can write down a hundred or more people whom they know. Some of these people you identify will be on LinkedIn. If you are not already connected with them, send them a LinkedIn connect request. There will be other people you identify who will not be on LinkedIn. These people will also be valuable for your networking. Remember, networking will work for you even if are only able to write down ten or twenty people.
You can also enlarge your personal contact network by attending professional association meetings related to churches and para churches. Here is a list of conferences from ShareFaith Magazine. Once you have a good list of contacts, when you are job hunting make it a goal to contact by email and/or by phone a few contacts each day.
How to Use the Advertised Church Job Market
Does this mean you should avoid using church job boards and other secular job boards? Of course not! The advertised job market does contain approximately 15-20% of available job openings, and they are organized so that it is easier to find positions for which you qualify. You can also allow recruiters and church search committees to find you by posting your resume on sites such as ChurchJobsOnline.com and the ChristianCareerCenter.com. In addition, sign up for newsletters such as the ChristianCareerCenter.com’s newsletter and job alerts which will keep you up to date on new church jobs and other ministry openings.
Besides ChurchJobsOnline.com and the ChristianCareerCenter.com here are some other church job boards: ChurchStaffing.com, ChurchJobFinder.com, ChurchJobs.net, and MinistryEmployment.com.
Another great way to find church jobs online is to simply google the type of job you are seeking and add the word jobs - for example, “pastor jobs.” Google will then provide you with results that will include “pastor jobs” in your geographic area.
Also, Google provides an option to “turn on email alerts for this search”. This is a great way to get updates as soon as new church jobs are posted online by any of thousands of job boards that have church jobs posted on them.
Planning and Organizing Your Job Search
In order to use your job search time wisely, it is of critical importance to get organized. What this means is initially to have a plan that is based on using both the advertised and hidden job markets. Thus, if you have 10 hours a week for your job search, your plan may be to invest 40% or 4 hours a week using strategies that help you to find jobs in the advertised job market, and 60% or 6 hours a week using strategies to find jobs in the hidden job market. By thus dividing your job search time, you will greatly increase your chances of finding employment in a church job more quickly.
Doing an effective church job search campaign can involve making hundreds of contacts with employers and personal contacts. Imagine how difficult it becomes to keep track of when you applied to different jobs, which churches you need to follow up with, the personal contacts who ask you to follow up in a week, etc. You might try to keep all this straight as notes or even use an Excel spreadsheet. While there are many ways to track resumes you have sent, employers you need to contact and interviews that have been scheduled, one of the best resources is a web-based program called JibberJobber.com. It is a funny name, but it’s a very effective program that will even send you email reminders for taking the next step with each employer, recruiter and/or personal contact that you have listed. There is a free version that you can use and also a premium version that has some added features. You can also use the premium version for 14 days for free when you sign up.
The Importance of Persistence in Prayer and Action
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 17:20 says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
In Luke 18:1-8 we find the parable of the persistent widow who got justice from her adversaries because of her persistence. It is clear that prayer moves mountains and your persistent prayers to our great and good God will yield results.
The other side of prayer is taking persistent action. Persistence has been described as the greatest trait of a job seeker. Tom Jackson describes the job search as looking like this: “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO YES!” This description should be encouraging because: 1) Everyone is going to hear NOs during a job search. Don’t take it personally. 2) Every NO is getting you closer to hearing a YES as long as you are using the best marketing tools and job search strategies. 3) If you want to hear more YESes, work on hearing more NOs faster.
Without persistence, the job search strategies of networking will not work well. Many a job hunter has given up because of discouragement. Job search work is hard even when you are using all the best marketing tools and job search strategies. But be encouraged that persistence in prayer and action will help you to find your next church calling faster.
Getting the Support You Need for Finding Church Jobs
Using these techniques to find church job openings effectively can maximize your efforts in finding a church job in less time. But remember--knowing this information is not enough; you also need to be persistent in implementing what you have learned. Finding a new church job is rarely easy; most people need support, encouragement, and accountability as they search. Create your own support network of friends, family, and if desired, a Christian professional career counselor/coach. For many people, a career coach has given them the winning edge in finding work that isn't just a job, but a calling. You can schedule your own free career services consultation today.
Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck are National Certified Career Counselors and the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. Their websites, ChristianCareerCenter.com and ChurchJobsOnline.com feature hundreds of job listings from churches, ministries, and Christian employers; a resume bank; and many other career/job search resources and articles. They also offer career coaching and testing to help you discover work that fits your God-given design, as well as assistance with writing a powerful resume, interviewing effectively, finding job openings, and other aspects of a successful job search. You can learn more about their personalized career coaching by visiting their website and scheduling a free career services consultation.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.