Looking back over my career, I’m often struck by how little I knew going into business in the “Catholic world.” Sure, I’d been a devout Catholic all my life, but I didn’t know much about what it truly meant to be a Catholic professional. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed to have many mentors and Catholic professional development opportunities over the years that have allowed me to hone my skills and become the professional I am today.
Upon reflection, however, I’ve realized that many of my skills have actually developed from secular or seemingly unrelated experiences that I’ve been able to repurpose for ministry use.
If you have the opportunity to participate in professional development specifically for Catholics in your field, I highly recommend it! However, potential Catholic employers are also often interested to see the skills and professional development you bring from your previous experiences, even in secular fields, and how that outside perspective could benefit their ministry. These will be hugely helpful when it comes time to write your resume.
Professional development opportunities also give you tangible experiences to discuss at a job interview. Many common interview questions invite an applicant to illustrate ways that they have used particular skills or reacted in past situations, and professional development not only proves dedication to your work, but also provides these concrete examples you can use in an interview.
So what professional development opportunities should Catholic professionals be on the lookout for? Here are some unique ways to gain Catholic professional development.
It’s no secret that communication skills are one of the top factors that recruiters consider when screening candidates for a position – in fact, it’s one of Forbes’ seven most universal job skills.
One of the reasons communication is so valuable is because it is the root of marketing, the work that convinces someone to take an action on a product or service. Employees who can communicate well help forward this mission, even if they aren’t part of the marketing or communications team.
So why is marketing a helpful skill for Catholic professionals? Just replace that product or service with Jesus, and you’ve got yourself evangelization.
I would argue that every Catholic organization can find its root in evangelization. Thus, as a Catholic professional, marketing skills prove you can use evangelize not only about the prospective ministry, but also about Christ. That alone can set you ahead of the rest of the pack.
I have yet to be part of a Catholic ministry that has not required some level of event planning prowess.
Luckily, it is a widely versatile skill that is easy to learn and put into practice. That’s probably why it was one of the top 10 skills hiring managers appreciated in new hires in 2018, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 guide for getting hired.
Being able to discuss your past experiences in event planning allows you to practically and succinctly illustrate many of your “soft skills”: time management, organization, teamwork, ability to conceptualize ideas and plan for the long term, and creativity.
Don’t worry if you only have secular event planning skills: you can still use that experience to leverage a Catholic job opportunity. Attention to detail, keeping calm under pressure, and remembering to plug in the microphone are skills relevant across fields.
Oftentimes, churches and Catholic organizations will shy away from business practices. It seems to contradict serving others, but that method simply isn’t sustainable.
Whether you have a background in finance, office management, entrepreneurship, or even design, bring those skills up at an interview! Many churches and Catholic organizations are beginning to realize how essential business management skills are to successfully fulfill their mission. Thus, Catholic hiring managers are specifically seeking candidates who can bring those skills, while keeping in mind that personal gain is not the goal.
If business hasn’t been your forte in the past, but you’re looking to grow in this area, there are so many opportunities for you to grow your skills!
I cannot emphasize enough how valuable professional groups have been to my development as a Catholic professional.
Joining Catholic professional groups, particularly online Facebook groups, have helped me stay on top of current trends, learn new skills, and constantly challenge me to keep growing in my field.
More importantly, however, it has allowed me to be inspired by so many wonderful people doing great things for Christ.
Being part of a professional organization, either in person or online, tells a Catholic hiring manager that you take your continued education seriously. It also illustrates that you know other experts in your field who you can bounce ideas off of.
Working for a Catholic organization does not mean you have to know everything about the Catholic faith. However, understanding the essential theology around Jesus Christ and the Church’s teachings is important to obtain a position in religious ministries.
You don’t have to have a master’s degree in Theology to be qualified for every Catholic job, however. Thankfully, there are so many free, popular theological courses and offerings for laity.
Plus, mentioning these Catholic organizations during an interview is like a secret code that you actually know your stuff. Being able to discuss your favorite Scott Hahn book or Fr. Mike Schmitz video will prove to the interviewer that you are serious about this position and upholding the culture of the organization.
Soon after I started my career in Church work, I noticed myself begin to burn out. My faith was now associated with work. Mass attendance became just an extension of the work week, and prayer was like taking work home.
That’s when I realized the importance of feeding myself spiritually before I spent my day trying to do the same for others.
A job candidate who places a large emphasis on prayer understands the importance of continually developing his or her faith life and is less likely to burn out.
Even attending a retreat could be considered Catholic professional development for your soul!
So when a person demonstrates they take time to feed themselves spiritually, it indicates to a hiring manager that he or she is dedicated to faith and takes steps to prevent burn-out.
Want to really wow your Catholic employer? While Catholic-specific professional development opportunities can be rare, participating in one shows you are really dedicated to your new position and already have the training that comes along with it!
If you’re hoping to enter the Catholic job market soon, don’t stress if you’re lacking Catholic professional development opportunities to include on your resume. There are plenty of unique ways to show off or develop your skills to help grow the Church. What’s important is having experience and proven passion!
About the Author:
Emily Ricci is the president of Gloriam Marketing, and works as a marketing content and social media specialist at a Catholic college and previously worked at a church for over 7 years. Her past church titles and responsibilities have included working as a Parish Office secretary, sacristan, Weekend Coordinator (ministry supervisor and event coordinator), youth minister, bulletin writer, coordinator of the baptism program, and Faith Formation teacher and assistant. After years in church work, Emily recognized the need for solid Catholic marketing and promotion, but realized that there were no marketing firms in the area that specialized in faith-based marketing.