As of this morning, when the successful candidate signed the contract, we concluded a successful search for a part-time Director of Religious Education. We had five high-quality people apply, all of whom were qualified, and all of whom had relevant gifts and/or experience.
How good were our applicants? All our applicants identified themselves as Unitarian Universalists, which was a big plus from our point of view. All our applicants had at least two years of college. Our applicants included an experienced Director of Religious Education looking for a new job, four people with experience as religious education volunteers in their own congregations, two people with one to two years of seminary training, one life-long Unitarian Universalist, and one person with a background in counseling.
I thought other small churches might be interested in hearing why I think a tiny church like ours got such a good pool of applicants for a half-time job.
First and foremost, we committed ourselves to paying at the salary guidelines recommended by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and we also committed ourselves to coming up with enough money to make it a half-time position. In the past, when we advertised for a quarter-time or one-third-time position we got only one or two applicants. Increasing the position to half-time at a fair salary made a big difference in the number of applicants.
Second, two of our applicants mentioned that they checked out our church Web site before applying. Our Web site doesn’t pretend to be flashy, but I think it does accurately reflect who we are as a congregation. Although our Web site is aimed primarily at newcomers, I suspect it is equally useful for job applicants — which we will keep in mind during future revisions of the Web site.
Third, we advertised in the right places. We sent a full job posting out in our newsletter — two applicants saw it in the newsletter, and one applicant was given the job posting by someone who receives our newsletter. We also posted the job on the Web site of the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) — two of our applicants saw the job posting there.
Fourth, we stated that we were hoping for a three-year commitment. I believe applicants heard that and understood that meant that the church was going to be committed to them for at least three years — this was more than a one year trial commitment.
Finally, it helped that we are in Massachusetts, the state with more Unitarian Universalists than any other state. Only two of the five applications came from out of the state.
Of course, having these five excellent applicants created a problem for us — the search committee had to decide between them. It was not an easy decision for them. What a great problem to have.