- Bob Sutton
You finally get around to polishing your resume. You research the best resume look, latest trends and descriptive phrases, and you pour your heart out on paper. Then you wait. And wait. And then the email comes: You didn’t get the job. What a discouragement! What went wrong? Did I leave off the wrong bullet point? Did I misspell something? What else should I have included or left off? What could I do better? As the Director of Candidate Relations here at the Vanderbloemen Search Group, I get asked these questions on a daily basis. They are good questions that I, too, would ask. But before we are able to answer any of those, there are a few things I think we should address first. I want to start off by stating that there are many factors that go into the hiring process that are out of the job seeker’s control. The reality is that the hiring process has many layers beyond the resume. However, the biggest misunderstanding I see is that job seekers think that their resume is the key to landing a position. There are several important actions that the job seeker can control beyond the resume. If there is a position you have your eye on that you really want, put in the work to get it. Here are five simple steps that smart job-seekers follow. 1. Decide on the organization that you want to work for. This seems straightforward, and it is! The best way to approach your search process is by knowing yourself first. What types of churches fit most closely with your philosophy of ministry, theological beliefs and mission? If a church doesn’t align with these basic questions you’ve already answered for yourself, then don’t apply. Don’t play the numbers game and put your name in as many hats as you can. Instead, I encourage you to approach the process strategically. The shotgun approach to applying to ministry positions rarely works. We often say that the hiring process is not a lottery; we are prayerfully walking with the church to help determine whom God has called to their ministry or organization. 2. Really get to know who they are. Over the course of time, I’ve spoken to several people on the phone that didn’t remember the position I was calling about. They had applied to so many that they couldn’t keep them all straight. Unsurprisingly, their candidacy did not move past our phone call. Do the work it takes to research the church you want to work for. If you are open to working for all Baptist churches, then have those as your aim (and make sure to know the difference between them: American Baptist, General Baptist, Southern Baptist, etc.). This is related to the previous point of knowing yourself as well. Before applying for a position, be sure to read the job description well and look carefully at the church or company website. Also, before you have a conversation with someone about the next steps in your candidacy, take a moment to refresh your memory. A few questions to ask yourself as you look at opportunities are: a. What is the organization or church looking for? b. Have I looked at the church's mission, vision and values? c. Do I agree with the church's theological position? d. Do I have the skill/experience the church is looking for? e. Do I honestly think I would fit well or would the learning curve be unreasonable? 3. Eliminate the learning curve. Smart candidates acknowledge that they may not know everything, but they are proactive about being continuous learners. For example, you might note in the job description that a children’s pastor opportunity mentions "Orange Curriculum." You may have used “Gospel Light” in the past but are open to new methods. That’s great! A smart candidate would take it a step further and explore what Orange is and be able to knowledgeably speak about it. Don’t have much experience with pastoral care or a ministry background? Connect with the care pastor at your church or another local church and get involved. The best way to receive ministry experience is by humbling yourself and becoming the best volunteer your church has ever seen. I can’t tell you how many candidates I’ve chatted with who "got their start in ministry” by being a faithful member and volunteer. All this is to say, if you get to the place where you are sitting across the table from the folks who can hire you, you will be able to say, “I didn’t know much about that, but over the last few months, I’m getting the hang of it!” This will go a long way. Smart candidates do not walk into situations blind. 4. Show and tell. From a purely practical standpoint, there has never been a more important time to have yourself on video. From children’s pastor to senior pastor, I encourage you to have something short put on video. Additionally, for roles that have a teaching or worship-leading component, record yourself in front of an audience. We love studio recorded sound, but there’s nothing like a live video to give organizations and churches the best sense of your style of worship or teaching. We encourage every candidate to submit a “Teaching Sample” so that not only we but also the hiring party can see you in action. You should view this as your opportunity to be seen and heard. Make the most of this video. 5. Be prepared. Before you submit your resume, before a phone call, before an interview, be in prayer for the opportunity in front of you. As Tim Keller says in his book Prayer, “God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” Be prepared if God decides to give what you asked for. We recently told you how you can mess up an interview, so … do the opposite! Whether it is a phone call or interview with us here at Vanderbloemen or the church, come prepared with questions, your knowledge of the organization and a positive attitude. Our team here at Vanderbloemen Search Group takes seriously the task of helping churches and organizations with their staffing. You can expect us to be prepared when looking through what you’ve provided and talking with you. I hope it is clear that a resume is still important, but there is much else to consider before and after sending in a resume for a position. If you take seriously the steps I’ve mentioned and put in the work, you won’t be winning the lottery, you’ll be taking the smarter approach to finding your next position. This article originally appeared on Vanderbloemen Search Group's blog. Used with permission.