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A blog follower recently wrote: I have been looking over the OTM…What a mess, how do clergy actually search for positions?  Is there a listing anywhere of positions or do you have to wade thru everything?  What is interesting is that most of the profiles that I looked at were barely completed.

That question called for a bit of statistical analysis, so I recently sat down and looked through the OTM Ministry Portfolio, specifically, the “receiving names” list of the “search community ministry portfolios” section.  The “receiving names” list in theory contains listings of searches that have completed their profile and are actively compiling an initial list of candidates. I looked at the first six pages of the list, which included fifty-eight individual portfolios.  The results were disheartening.

Seventeen portfolios were completely filled out, including compensation, work history, and narrative sections.  Twenty-two were partially filled out, but did not have enough information for the OTM matching program to match the positions with potential applicants.  The matching program within the OTM system matches openings to clergy portfolios.  The matching program compares basic compensation information and basic skills found in the narrative section. Some of the partially filled out forms lacked compensation information.  Some lacked work history or narrative sections.  Nineteen lacked any information beyond a position being open.

This quick survey indicates less than a third of searches using the OTM system for anything beyond a positions open bulletin board.  It does not show how many searches are not using the OTM system at all.  Nor does it show how many clergy have completely filled out their portfolios.  My suspicion is that clergy completion rates are still fairly low, as clergy tend not to fill out these forms unless they are in active search.

Shouldn’t we be concerned that a program introduced two years ago has such low utilization rates?  I’d suggest a couple of changes in direction to increase utilization rates.  1.  Vastly simplify the program, understanding that end users seem to want a jobs bulletin board, rather than a computer matching program.  2.  Sponsor field training around the country to teach clergy and search consultants how to use the program to its fullest.

In the meantime, how should clergy search for positions?

  1. Fill out the OTM profile to the best of your ability, particularly the entire narrative essay question section.
  2. Use the “search community ministry portfolios” section as one of several jobs bulletin boards to identify where openings are.  The left side of this blog has a comprehensive selection of national, regional, and diocesan jobs listings.
  3. Work with your diocesan transition ministry officer.  Their networks with other TMOs are one of the more effective ways of getting your named placed in front of a search committee.
  4. Feel free to apply for an open position to the diocesan TMO or a search committee (depending on diocesan policy).
  5. Do not wait for search committee to call you. This is an increasingly rare occurrence.
  6. Network by being engaged in the life of your diocese and by attending continuing education programs where you can meet clergy and laity from around the country.
  7. Help your brother and sister clergy.  Let them know about the helpful information on this blog.  Urge your local clergy associations to work toward making the transition ministry system work better.

I would love to hear how you are experiencing the TMO system.  Has it helped you in your vocational discernment and searches?  If so, what components help?  What would you suggest for improving the system?