If it’s been a few years since you’ve looked for a new church or ministry job, chances are some things have changed significantly. In fact, things have probably changed over the past twelve months even more than normal. (Thanks, COVID).
Here are some of the things that you can expect as you begin your search in 2021:
CHANGE #1: Expect More Interviews
In 2021, many churches are fully integrating video interviews into their normal routine. That means that unless you are EXTREMELY local to the church that you’re interviewing for, you’ll most likely start with a Zoom or some kind of video interview.
The beginning of most church’s interview process is now turning into a SERIES of shorter video interviews with more candidates. These less formal video calls can actually work to your advantage. You’ll be able to get to know the church and key players more easily and more quickly without taking time to hop on a plane.
You may have to reset your expectations. You’ll probably go through a series of 3-5 video calls in many cases before you’re invited to physically visit the church. And expect somewhere between 5-8 real conversations before a potential offer is on the table.
CHANGE #2: Expect a Longer Search
Additional interviews will normally make the process take a little longer. So will the fact that there are so many people that will be transitioning from one church to another this year. That means more potential candidates for churches to sift through, and probably more people that they are talking to and running through their hiring process.
What used to take 3-6 months may take you 6-12 months in 2021. That means you’ll need to adjust your timeline accordingly just in case it takes longer than you think it should.
This can get particularly tricky when you resign before you find a new job, or are laid off or terminated.
Many will find a new ministry job much quicker than that, but the best rule of thumb is to plan on your search taking longer than you expect. Having a longer-term contingency plan is always wise.
CHANGE #3: Burnout is a Major Factor in Many Transitions
2020 was a tough year to be in ministry. The result: many pastors and church leaders are tired… really tired… bordering on ‘burn out’ tired.
As we interview candidates in 2021, it is easy to tell how they have done during this past season of COVID, usually without asking. Those that are close to burnout are pretty easy to spot. In fact, they very seldom have to tell us. We can read it in the way they talk and how they look. Asking the question only confirms what we are were already seeing.
If you are burned out at your current ministry, the grass will probably NOT be greener at your next church. They will be struggling with many of the same things you’ve been going through. So be sure that you are healthy and ready to transition.
Healthy churches have a keen eye for spotting healthy candidates.
CHANGE #4: It Will Be Harder for New Graduates and Those Looking for Their First Church Role
We always tell our candidates that the toughest church job to get is your first one. 2021 will make that even more true in some cases.
While some churches are eager to hire someone fresh out of college or seminary, many churches LOVE experience. And for those that are looking for experienced candidates, the number of ministry people transitioning (see change #2) will make it more competitive for those that are just starting their church career.
That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a church role if you’ve recently graduated or are looking to make a career pivot. But it may take you a little extra time (see change #2 once again) to find the perfect spot.
This may seem discouraging, but don’t let it be that way. You may have to aggressively market yourself to churches. Show them that even though you haven’t been on a full-time church staff, you have the skills and related experience that will turn into a great hiring decision for them.
CHANGE #5: Expect to Get Rejected More Often… and Learn to Be OK With That.
Changes 1-4 mean that you will probably have to interview with more churches in order to find the right one. This might seem like a bad thing. But really it’s not. Especially if you use it to your advantage.
One recent career expert said that many candidates have underestimated how hard it is to excel in an online interview. Online interviews are different than in-person interviews. They take practice. So take every opportunity you have for an online interview to learn how to perform better. Learn from each online interview what you need to improve for your next interview. And don’t be surprised or upset when you don’t move forward in the process.
So… those are how we see some of the job searching rules changing.
What hasn’t changed is that God has a plan for you. We’re here to support you however we can through your search. We’re in your corner.
Have a great week in ministry,