As I was in my final year of college, I began looking for an opportunity to get hired into a full-time youth ministry job. I was newly engaged and didn't have a job with benefits, so not only did I want to find a job that fit my passions, but I also wanted to make sure that I didn't end up a garbage man (nothing wrong with that vocation, just not for me). Thankfully, I was able to find a job at Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton Twp; I was lucky enough that they were willing to hire a twenty-one year old guy about to finish school. I have obviously sinced moved on to a new job, but the process of applying, interviewing, and following up was a process that I'll never forget. It took a lot of work and and time to try to make sure I came across as the best candidate and I thought it might be helpful to share what I learned for other people that might be looking for a job.
Your résumé is not going to get you a job; the goal of your résumé is only to get you the chance to talk further so you can really show them who you are and why you would be a good fit for the job. Getting to the interview portion of the job application can be really enhanced if you happen to know somebody that's connected to the organization your are interviewing with; this is why it is extremely valuable to be networked to other youth workers and pastors.
As you create your résumé, some things that you need to remember:
- This is not a chance for you to show how humble you are.
- If you got a fancy college degree, but skimped on getting youth ministry experience that was dumb.
- Highlight all the skills you've developed in your past professional and volunteer experience.
- Let the potential church know the conferences you've been to.
There may be a time when you don't need a résumé; that'll make this process significantly easier and irrelevant for you, but until that time comes, do the hard work and make yourself look good.
Here's a copy of the résumé I used to get me my first youth ministry job.
The whole purpose of the résumé is simply to get you into an interview. You work hard to make yourself look good on paper so you can meet the pastor, the staff, and/or the hiring team and try to impress them with your vision and passion for student ministry. As you go into the interview there are several things you can do to improve your chances of doing well.
- Research the church. Don't let the first time you hear about their mission and activities going on be when you first talk to them. Spend some serious time on their website and get to know what they're doing.
- Prepare for certain key questions. What is your philosophy of ministry? What would you like to see happen in the next 5 years? What's the role of parents in a student ministry? How would you train a team of volunteers? What would you do if ________?
- Ask questions. Not only should you be prepared to be interviewed, but be ready to interview them. You want to make sure the church will be a fit for you so ask them questions too.
- Be yourself. Not only do they want to know if you're qualified, but they also want to know if you are a fit with their team. Try to find ways for them to get a glimpse of your personality.
Once the interview is done, it's important to show your gratitude to the people that interviewed you and write them a letter. As soon as you finish your interview and get home, get out a thank you card and send a hand-written thank you to the people that interviewed you. Also if the hiring team has not given you a timeline for their hiring process, plan to call and check in on how the process is going in about a week.
Photo Credit: wmacphail