Getting a Job in Youth Ministry
Recently, several of my youth ministry friends have lost their jobs. Unlike in years past, the economy has played a significant role in churches letting them go. Sadly, with the economy down (and thus giving) some churches have been forced to eliminate staff positions. This creates a two-fold problem. There are more people looking to get hired and fewer full-time ministry jobs available. So, here’s some advice for standing out in the job search process. Step one: Get 3-4 people on your team. These should be people who you trust enough to share your thoughts, fears, and prayers. Trust me, when you go through the interview and candidate process you will want to have people praying for you and giving you advice. Make sure that this group isn’t just your family. When I’ve looked for a job, my team has generally included my wife, my father-in-law, a long-time friend in youth ministry, and a professor from college. Step two: Identify your geographical boundaries. Actually, it may be good to write down all sorts of parameters about where you think you’d be a good fit. Size of ministry, denominations, theological stuff, small town vs. big city, stuff like that will help you know what types of places to invest your energy. Make sure you share this list of stuff with your team. They are going to help you find a good fit even when the emotions of the job search kick in. Step three: Work your network. Even if you aren’t able to publicly tell others you are looking, let other youth ministry friends know you’re looking to make a move. If it’s publicly known you are looking (like you’ve posted your resume online) than I’d say ask everyone you know if there may be a church looking that they know of. Youth ministry is a tough career choice. We’ve all had to look for work before and I’ve found my friends in ministry very willing to help one another out. (Because they know they may need help one day!) Step four: Work on your resume. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. Here are some great tips. I’ve gone through hundreds of ministry resumes. Here are a couple things to avoid, specifically for youth ministry. Don’t use the youth group name but instead use the church name. Keep it to a page. Don’t include things from when you were in high school. Save it as a pdf. Include a picture. Continuing education matters so list conferences and training events you’ve attended. Skip the “life verse” and instead include an objective. Put your best stuff at the very top. Share your resume with your team before you start sending it out. Trust me, if you haven’t done a resume in the last few years… get some help! Step five: Work the web. Choose 3-4 places to post your resume. YS has two offerings in this department. We have the YS job bank here on the site. We also own YouthMinistryPro.com. I’d suggest posting to both as they have very different audiences. (Both are 100% free to post your resume and get you great exposure.) If you went to a Christian college post your resume with their career development department. I’d also suggest posting your resume on Monster.com. Think like a search committee member. Someone on the committee may find resume’s from places that they are familiar with. Step six: Work your outbox. Search for jobs and send your resume to places you think you’d connect well with. Look around their website, listen to a message or two if they have them online, read their doctrinal statement, learn a little about the community where the ministry is located. This may be controversial… but I pretty much ignore education and experience parameters that on some listings. Then e-mail your resume with a personalized note. I like to give them something to respond to so that I know someone actually looked at the email. Something like, “I’d love to know how your hiring process will work, can you let me know what the steps are?” Step seven: Be proactive but not annoying in working for an interview. One technique I’ve always used is to keep a spreadsheet of my contacts so I can keep it straight! I note when I’ve talked to them, who I talked with, and when I should expect to hear from them again. I’ve found this helps me stay organized and be aware of the hiring process. Step eight: If you get an interview, be inquisitive. My angle with ministry interviews is that I’m always interviewing them more than they are interviewing me. Taking a genuine interest in their ministry communicates powerfully that you really care. Likewise, you will need this information to take back to your team to help you make the best possible decision. Recognize that the early stages of the process are just information gathering for both parties. So do your best to learn what you can but try to not get overly emotionally involved… YET! I hope that these bits of advice help accelerate your job search. Let me know how it’s going! Leave a comment or drop me an email. p.s. Never forget the importance of that team of people. They will help you, join you in praying, and ultimately celebrate with you as you walk boldly to the next stage of your ministry career.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.