SUMMER SERIES (Part I): 10 Things to consider when your church is struggling to hire.

You’re offering a competitive salary with great benefits—So where are the applicants?

1. Do you know your market place? A booming economy could be adversely affecting your hiring process.

Ask any real estate agent in your local community whether the housing marking is a buyer or sellers’ market. A real estate agent always knows because the economy affects cost of housing, supply, demand, and their livelihood. The church staffing world is similar.

The US economy is booming right now. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis the US economy has grown on average over 2.3% since the first quarter of 2013. Charitable giving to nonprofits has also been on the rise in both 2017 and 2018. Not surprising is that church finances across the country are experiencing an uptick in consistent giving. Practically this means many a church's visions for dynamic ministry initiatives are not just expanding but are capable of being realized. In 2018—a decade after many dreams were put on hold due to the 2008 recession—this is great news.

Church hiring is at new highs. It’s no longer a church’s market, it is a candidate’s market. There are so many job opportunities for pastors in the US right now that pastors can afford to be picky about where they live, work, and decide to raise their family. In line with this, millennial and gen x pastors who desire to be centrally located to major cities are coming of age professionally. This means city churches typically have a much larger applicant pool and more rural churches (and churches in flyover states) are having a hard time keeping up.

So how should churches respond? Churches that want to hire top talent will spend the time to position their church and its community to attract talent. Spend the extra time capturing what God is doing in your church and community and telling that story so incredibly well that candidates are drawn to be a part of it.

2. Your job post is lazy.

Its 2018…hiring is a lot like online dating at this point. You have to put your best foot forward digitally. Many job posts read like they were thrown together last minute with little to no thought. Pastors are reading about your job opening and can only see a job title, church name, church size, and a list of responsibilities. In short, lazy. Why would a candidate care about your community and be interested in that match when you don’t care to talk about it?

If your job post is lazy, your church has missed arguably the first and most important interaction to acquiring talent: the first impression. Churches that write lazy job posts put potential applicants completely on the offensive—you’ve put the work of discovering if your church is the right fit back on them. In an economy where there are many jobs, pastors will go for the job postings that are easiest for them to learn more and which entice them to imagine themselves in your community. If a job seeker wants to know more about your church and has to google your church, find links to your church website, guess your mission and vision and community and then attempt to find videos and theological statements and more (because nothing was written in the job post) you are very likely missing potential applicants. Finding a job is hard enough- especially for people who are experienced hires. It is always in your best interest to make the job search easier.

Quick wins—posting a job:

  • Job seekers view hundreds of job openings over a series of 4-8 weeks. As such, be concise, write creatively, and have the mindset that you are recruiting. Write what we call, “talent acquisition statements.” Talent acquisition statements are designed to entice applicants, make them more curious about who you are.

  • Write a deeper about us section that represents the unique things God is doing in your local church and community. Include fun local facts/festivals and what your community is most famous for. People want to live a full life in their communities- fall festivals, winter walks, fun concert series are all of interest to the people you want to hire.

  • Create a written vision of your ideal candidate (not just the job responsibilities…pastors are not robots). Describe how he/she will execute the role efficiently, fit into your church and local community, and engage with others. What will success look like in 30 days, 6 months, 1 year.

  • Make it so candidates can picture themselves already working and living in your community and you’ll see folks lining up to apply.