Reasons Churches Won't Hire You

Consultant Charlie Balmer shares over at LifeHacker the reasons that he doesn’t hire people when they come in for an interview.  Charlie writes:

When you first walk in to my office, I am expecting you to be one of the 99%+ people who I know I won’t hire in the first 5 minutes. I am hoping I will be proven wrong, because I really want to hire you and be done interviewing. Unfortunately, most people looking for jobs don’t deserve them.

Here are some of the reasons:

1.  You send me a stupidly long resume

2.  You can’t tell me why you like your current job

3.  You have no career plans or vision

4.  You have no skills

5.  You answer my questions with conjecture.

Then Charlie goes on to tell you how to win with your interview.

If you’re looking for a new church job, this article will be helpful to you.

And hey… while you’re at it… post your resume at my new website.  It’s free!


  • steve miller January 20, 2012 Reply

    It can be so frustrating trying to find a new job and then having to jump through ridiculous hoops, hoops often designed by an HR department employee with little or no experience in the field.

    Just as good as the article are the replies, check this one out from a poster named timgray:


    1 – require me to fill out your company’s “application” that simply repeats all the information that is on my resume. Why are you showing me that your company is more interested in busywork than skills? You will never even look at the “application”, it is a waste of everyone’s time.

    2 – Require yet another login to post my resume to your company’s website. your company is not special, why are you cluttering up your own servers with the silly logins for people that will never be used again? Hire some competent IT people and design a resume submission system that does not require a un-needed login for them to have to remember. The best one I have seen emailed the submitter a pincode and allowed them to login with their email and pincode if they ever needed to update the resume.

    3 – Post ridiculous requirements. 30+ years in java, astronaut that has been in space 10 times, has god’s cellphone number. If you are letting the idiots in HR write the job description at least take some time from golf or your fantasy football to proofread the job position. It just makes you look like a very uneducated manager, a big red flag for the real professionals.

    4 -Do not post a salary range. You want me to waste my time to find out you are paying 30% under industry average? Be honest and post the salary range so you get real professionals that don’t want to waste our time to apply.

    The above are the reasons that most companies get 5000 resumes or more for a single position that are not what they are looking for. Mostly because the hiring manager is incompetent at writing a proper job posting. The HR department think they are godlike. And everyone thinks their company is so good they don’t have to give any real information about the position.

    Want a better list of hires to choose from? Do the above and look like a respectable company to work for.

  • Brian January 20, 2012 Reply

    Our church spent 3 years looking for a pastor. We had 200 resumes come in on the first month. Honestly, the ones that were more than 2 pages were usually kicked out. If a pastor didn’t understand what a resume was, then they probably didn’t understand how to run something more difficult like leading.

    But the main problem with the resumes was that the associations had a stack of resumes ready to be sent. So once the church posted that they were looking for a pastor, the SBC of Texas and GBC of Texas, the AR state Convention, and many seminaries would send us stacks of 30-50 resumes. This is where the 200 resumes came from.

    So we would open these packets, call the prospects to let them know we have their resume and see if they are still interested. They would usually say that they have already found a position and were not interested. “They forgot to update the association to let them know to take them off.” Usually after hearing this from the first 5, this would void everyone else out of the stack.

    So if you are interested in finding a new position take my advise.
    1. Do not use local or state associations or seminaries to send off your resume. It will come in with 50 others.
    2. Keep it under 2 pages. Get to the info that the want to know like things you have done, leadership positions, experience, and references. They probably don’t want the contact info and list of every church you have ever worked at.
    3. If you are interested in the church, call them before sending your resume. Find out who is chairman of the committee. Then call him/her for more information to see if you are interested in the position. Then send your resume.

    To write better resumes you might look at “48 Days to the Work You Love” Dan Miller

    • John June 4, 2012 Reply

      Misspelled words are my beef. If an applicant submits a resume with a misspelled word, I file the resume in the trash can. The same goes for job ads…if a job ad contains a misspelled word, I move on to the next ad.

      By the way, ‘advise’ should be spelled ‘advice’. 🙂

  • Greg January 24, 2012 Reply

    That’s very interesting… In the seminary, they don’t really teach you how to make an effective pastoral resume. Rather, the only example we are given is the academic CV format, which is usually longer than the two pages (as it mentions publications and academic work already done, as well as all relevant experience…)

    Of course, it might be that as a seminary graduate that did not grow up in the church, I’m usually also disqualified because of my lack of “minimum 5 years successful North American ministry experience” (because the majority of my Christian life was spent in the cloistered academic world of the seminary) to apply, even if I have experience living in other cultures – which is important in this globalized world, among other skills that could be quite relevant to ministry in our post-modern context(cf. #3 in Steve’s post).

  • Jon February 15, 2012 Reply

    1. How long is long? An interviewer is just as likely to reject someone because they don’t have a long resume that speaks of a long work history in which the applicant acquired a wide array of skills and experience.

    2. If someone likes their current job, why would they be interested in whatever job the interviewer has available?

    3. Career plans and vision may mean the applicant won’t stay very long at the job the interviewer is offering so the interviewer likely won’t give the applicant the time of day.

    4. Whether or not the applicant has skills depends entirely on what skills the job requires. Someone trained as am EMT may not have skills useful for a pulpit.

    5. Do you really understand the questions you are asking? If you are qualified to know how to hire a pastor, why are you not working as a pastor yourself?

    Should a church congregation hire a pastor at all? If someone is going to pastor a congregation of the Lord’s Church, shouldn’t the Lord be the one doing the hiring? But sadly most church congregations are run as businesses rather than church congregations. A congregation that hires a pastor likely won’t take correction from that pastor when they are wrong or follow that pastor’s leadership.

  • Steven Summers February 23, 2012 Reply

    Your churchjobs website lists 2 jobs. Shows that there are 6 pages/12 jobs total, but the remaining 5 pages when opened, give an error.

  • John Albiston March 17, 2012 Reply

    I’m pretty sure your assertions here are far from being universally true, Todd. In fact there are many denominations that have extensive resume templates that much longer than 2 pages. When I hire pastoral staff I usually throw away the 2 page resumes because they don’t give me any useful information. Many churches have also had to develop much hated application forms, or employ long lists of questions because of the limited value of the micro-resume.

    Now I’ve worked in the secular world as well, and if I’m hiring an accountant, or a php programmer, I really don’t need more than a two page resume. All I care about is your basic skills and experience – I don’t need to know about your philosophy of accounting or your JavaScript programming strategies.

    However, if I am hiring you as my youth pastor, you better believe that I want to know about your philosophy of ministry and what kind of strategies you intend to employ. Two pages are just fine if all you need to do is wear a paper hat and ask me if I want fries with my order, but I’m looking for a lot more from a pastoral resume than that.

  • Terry Lange March 19, 2012 Reply

    Another reason churches do not hire is they are looking for someone with an inordinate amount of experience. They fail to account for people who had been in seminary for some years. Churches are more concerned about competence over character and faithfulness.

  • Tracy March 20, 2012 Reply

    I woudn’t want to work for this guy!

    Re skills: I’ve been involved in HR in the legal industry. Yes the lawyers needed to be qualified, but you can mentor skills, it’s harder to mentor attitude. Further, sometimes people had complimentary skills (eg psychology or IT) that meant if the person didn’t fit the job description perfectly, we may still want to chat with them.

    Re: church jobs – I’ve found most churches pay way under market – so having an arrogant attitude like LifeHacker might leave you with no one to employ!

  • Preacher Ken June 19, 2012 Reply

    Amen to this!

  • Greg June 25, 2012 Reply

    After 15 years of serving at the same church 2000 Sunday attendance, I took a year off. We had enough equity in our house that when we sold it, we could move to another state, buy a house, and do nothing for one year to regroup and energize.
    At the end of that year, a church in another state asked me to join them to serve as worship pastor to help them change their style to more contemporary. I did the resume, multiple interviews, DVD and other media files. They asked the right questions and I asked the typical questions, i.e., why did the last person leave, how long has the pastor served, weekly income, etc. After several weeks of discussion, they decided I was the person they needed for the position. As well, my wife and I felt it was the right place to go.
    After about six weeks into the job while sitting in a staff meeting, it came out that the church (1200 attendance) was more about $10 million in debt. While not unfamiliar with debt, I remember that the weekly income was around $25k. The debt payment was more than $40k per month. I quickly did the math and guessed the staff payroll and came to the conclusion that monthly income was not enough. As a good team player, I kept quiet regarding my concerns.
    Another few weeks into the job it slipped in another meeting about a different former worship pastor. That caught my attention. I did ask my question then, “how many worship pastors has there been?” The pastor sheepishly replied that I was the 17th in the last 20 years. WHAT?!?!
    After serving there three years (beating the average by a lot), the pastor “threw me under the bus” in a church business meeting and I resigned the next day. He did, however, hand-write a letter apologizing for his actions, withholding information during the interview process, and thanked me for being exactly who I said I was during my tenure.

    My point is this: you can have the perfect resume, ask the right questions, and be full of integrity but you have no way of knowing if the church leadership will be.

    PS, I’m currently serving in a smaller church on an island south of Florida. The church is totally debt-free, pays better than the larger church I left, and I have a lot less frustration and stress. God is good!

  • Benjer McVeigh June 25, 2012 Reply

    #2 is huge. I am immediately skeptical of someone who badmouths their current organization and/or leadership. It’s one thing to be honest about why you’re leaving (if it’s your decision to leave) and turn it into a conversation about your ideal environment, but if you can’t respect your current boss, why should I expect you to respect me?

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