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If you have checked your dashboard on the OTM Portfolio recently you will note a message in yellow asking you to “correct how Primary Gifts & Skills have been entered into the ‘Work History & Skills’ chapter.”

The first question that may pop into your mind is: “Do I have to fill this form out again?”  The answer, as far as the skills section goes, is an unequivocal yes.

The second question may be, why the change so soon?  The answer is that this section attempted to fix a perceived problem with the old CDO profile, but generated a new problem that inhibited matching clergy to parish portfolios.

We used to grouse about the long list of skills clergy could enter into the CDO profile.  The OTM portfolio did away with that list and allowed us to use our own words.  Since we all tend to describe our skills slightly differently when given the chance to expound at length, the OTM data base was quickly overwhelmed with over 45,000 different skills, some of which were really not that different.  For example, do you think “pastoral calling with shut-ins” is a very different ministry than “visiting the homebound”?  Unfortunately the computer program did.  The key word search program couldn’t effectively match clergy and parish portfolios with so many options.

If you are interested in the math behind this type of computer problem, google “Boolean logic” and ask a mathematician to explain it to you.

The proposed solution to the problem is to limit our entries to four skills per job and to ask us to describe each skill with no more that two words.  As there are still plenty of ways to indicate skill in pastoral care with two words, I suspect this tweak might reduce, but not solve the problem.

My advice, fill out four skills under each job you have held, using very common descriptive words.  Highlight different skills under each job. Don’t wait for the computer to call you.  Go look at the open positions in the “Search community ministry portfolios” section, or on the sites listed in the left hand column of this blog. Then directly contact the parishes (or deployment officers of parishes) that interest you.  At this stage of OTM Portfolio’s evolution, your judgment is more reliable than the computer’s.