Resources for Students & Alumni

We offer an array of job search resources for our students and alumni. In the near future, we’ll also be providing 5-minute video seminars. Stay tuned!

Establishing a Biblical Perspective on the Job Search

You may purchase the following resources by contacting the Ockenga Institute at Gordon-Conwell Seminary at 1-800-294-2774.

Decision making By the Book
by Dr. Haddon Robinson, Faith Builders, Ockenga.

Regularly we are faced with decisions that confront and confuse us – crucial choices which, once we make them, turn around and mold us. Can we really hope to discover God’s perfect will and avoid going down less-than-perfect paths? Find out and let one of the great communicators of today lead you in a study of how to make decisions that are firmly grounded in the unchanging and eternal Word of God!

A Steadfast Heart: God’s Faithfulness Throughout Life
by Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot. Faith Builders, Ockenga.

What do you want in life? How will you get it? What will it cost you? Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Choosing to follow Christ has its cost-every choice does. But God is faithful throughout all the phases and transitions of life: from childhood, to parenthood, to grandparenthood and beyond. How can you keep a steadfast heart throughout life and experience God’s promised faithfulness? Elisabeth Elliot will light the way toward the love and endurance you need, even today, to remain steadfast through life’s changes and know the faithfulness of God.

What Ever Happened To My Call To Ministry
by Kaiser, Rosell, Packer. Pastor Builders, Ockenga.

What does it mean to be called by God, and what makes my calling different from anyone else’s? What does calling have to do with success of failure in ministry? Can I lose my calling? Have your questions answered in this series where Dr. J.I. Packer, Dr. Walter Kaiser, and Dr. Garth Rosell will help you re-think through the theological, Biblical, and historical nature of your call to ministry

Building a Resume and Cover Letter

A resume is your personal advertisement! Its purpose is to tell employers that you are precisely the employee they are looking for! Emphasizing your successes and unique strengths, your resume should communicate what you can do in light of what you’ve done. Your resume should be clean, professional, clear, and precise. Rather than outlining your accomplishments comprehensively, the resume should only serve as an introduction, causing an employer to want more. Click through our steps below to learn how to build your resume.

  1. Where do I begin?
  2. Resume Content
  3. Resume Presentation
  4. Sample Layouts
  5. Action Verbs
  6. What Employers are Looking for
  7. Cover Letter
  8. Ten Resume Mistakes to Avoid
  9. Resume FAQ’s

Developing a Ministry Portfolio

What is a Ministry Portfolio?
A Ministry Portfolio is a packet of information that will tell employers who you are, where you have been, and what you have done. A Ministry Portfolio may include items such as your resume, cover letter, ministry vision statement, personal photos, letters of recommendation, statement of faith and theology, examples of past performance, and more.

Why a Ministry Portfolio?

A Ministry Portfolio is important for several reasons:

First, a quality portfolio will immediately communicate that you are a self-starter. By providing a neat, cohesive package about yourself and your experience, you are telling employers that you have initiative and organization.

Second, your portfolio will tell a search committee that you are a person of purpose with a well-defined vision, a theological position, and a set of goals. These strong leadership qualities will speak volumes.

Third, your portfolio makes the search committee’s job easier. Their main goal is to find out about you. By laying out before them yourself, your work, your experience, etc., you become more attractive to them. They will appreciate your openness and will note that you have nothing to hide!

Finally, your portfolio allows you to have a prepared first impression. A search committee’s first in-depth experience with you will be what they see in your portfolio, which you will have spent hours preparing and perfecting.

What should I include in my portfolio?

Most churches and ministries will want as much information about a candidate as possible. Even if employers don’t want it and don’t read it, you’ve communicated that you are open and willing to be scrutinized. Your portfolio may include resume, cover letter, statement of faith (your beliefs on essential doctrines), statement of your theological position (your beliefs on nonessential doctrines), your ministry vision statement, letters of recommendation, personal/family photo, and examples of your work, achievements, strengths, etc. (see below).

About your examples…
A good question to ask yourself when compiling your portfolio is, “What am I good at? Where do my strengths lie?” If you excel in writing children’s curriculum, include an example of what you’ve written. If you’re a strong preacher, include a tape, outline, or notes of a message you’ve preached. If you enjoy discipling teens, share your philosophy of discipleship, including stories of how your philosophy has played out in real life examples. Perhaps, have a teen you’ve discipled share about your relationship from his/her perspective. Anything you can provide to show a church your strengths and passions will make a strong portfolio. It is very important to portray yourself as accurately as possible. Have someone who knows you well read over your portfolio to see if it indeed reflects who you are.

What should be the format of my Ministry Portfolio?

A Ministry Portfolio should be neatly assembled. Find a notebook or binder with a professional appearance in which to present your information. Print your various documents on quality paper, coordinating the color and feel. A Ministry Portfolio should not be cluttered or flashy. A neat, professional, classy appearance will get the attention

Preparing for an Interview

The first step in being prepared for your interview is becoming fully acquainted with your resume. Be ready to discuss it in depth. Think through the work experiences you had, your performance, attitudes, and proofs of success. Be able to cite examples that feature growth you experienced and other positive qualities. Use the links below to jump to a section about interview questions.

Questions to be ready to answer
Questions to be ready to ask
Questions you should NOT ask during an interview
Other No-No’s for the interview

Questions To Be Ready To Answer…

1. How did you become a Christian? Tell me about your conversion experience.
2. What experiences have shaped you spiritually?
3. How do you pursue continued growth in your walk with God?

4. Tell me more about yourself. What are your hobbies and interests?
5. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
6. How would you describe the ideal ministry for you?
7. Rate yourself 1 – 10 in these categories: communication, leadership, teaching, energy, intelligence, planning, organization, analytical ability, conflict resolution skills, direction, initiative, self-confidence, decision-making ability, willingness to accept responsibility, financial management, supervisory ability, self-knowledge, mentoring skills, visionary outlook, imagination, interpersonal skills, flexibility.
8. What are your short-term and long-term objectives?
9. What do you want to be doing 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
10. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
11. What are your spiritual gifts?
12. How do you work under pressure?
13. What is your philosophy of ministry?
14. Share some of the features of your theology.
15. Tell me about your current church involvement.
16. Who do you admire most and why?

17. Describe your past work experiences. What did you do well? What did you enjoy?
18. How will your previous experiences fit in here? How would you contribute to our ministry?
19. What two or three accomplishments in your life have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
20. Have you ever been fired from a job? If so, why?
21. Are your grades a good reflection of your ability? Why or why not?
22. What were your favorite classes? Why? What has seminary taught you?
23. Do you have plans for continued study? Another degree?

24. Why are you interested in ministering here?
25. How does your family feel about your filling this position?
26. What do you think it takes to be successful in a ministry like ours?
27. What is it about this specific ministry that sounds appealing to you?
28. Why are you willing to leave your present job?
29. What kind of salary and benefits are you looking for?
30. What questions do you have about this ministry and this job?

Questions To Be Ready To Ask…
1. Tell me more about your ministry.
2. Tell me about your church’s/organization’s theology, history, priorities, etc.
3. What are your goals for this ministry?
4. What are the future plans for the growth of this ministry?
5. How would you characterize this congregation/ministry?
6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this church/ministry?
7. What specifically would be my responsibilities in this position?
8. What is the most important function performed in this position?
9. What results are expected from the position and how do you measure those results?
10. What do you feel would be the ideal experience and qualifications for this position?
11. Is this a newly created job?
12. Why did the last person leave this position? (a) if quit: Why? (b) if promoted: Why? (c) if fired: Why? What was your dissatisfaction with their performance?
13. What could be improved in the way previous employees performed in this position?
14. Who would I report to? Work with?
15. What is the turnover rate in this ministry? Do people stay a long time? Why?
16. Are there any particular doctrinal issues that have caused problems with staff members in the past? What were they?
17. How soon do you intend to make a decision on someone for this position?
18. Do you have questions about my resume?
19. What would be my family’s role?
20. What is the next step in the interviewing process?

Questions You Should Not Ask During An Interview…
1. Does this ministry believe in and support continuing education?
2. What is the salary range for this position?
3. What benefits does the ministry provide?
4. What is the cost of living and housing in this area?

(These questions are appropriate, but not during the first interview.)

Other No-No’s For The Interview…
1. Poor personal appearance.
2. Inability to express yourself clearly (voice, diction, grammar.)
3. Lack of planning; no purpose or goals.
4. Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive, indifferent.
5. Lack of confidence and poise; nervousness.
6. Lack of tact.
7. Lack of maturity.
8. Lack of courtesy, ill-mannered.
9. Condemnation of past employees and employers.
10. Failure to look interviewer in the eye.
11. Indecision.
12. Unhappy married or family life.
13. Sloppy application materials.
14. Lack of seriousness about the position; merely shopping around.
15. Seeking to fill the position for only a short time.
16. Little sense of humor.
17. Emphasis on whom you know.
18. Cynical.
19. Narrow interests.
20. Poor handling of personal finances.
21. No interest in community activities.
22. Inability to take criticism.
23. Lack of appreciation of the value of experience.
24. Little knowledge of the Bible.
25. Late to interview without good reason.
26. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time.
27. Failure to ask questions about the job.
28. Showing a desire for power; not humble.
29. Unclear on vision or reason for being in ministry.
30. Lack of initiative.
31. Approaching interview process too casually.
32. Arrogant attitude; “I’m going to come and fix your ministry.”
33. Overemphasis on salary and benefits
34. Inability to discuss past performance; vague; not prepared.
35. Having a “what can you do for me?” attitude.

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