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General Bible Courses > Living by the Book > Career by the Book

Chapter 16: Tools for Career Success


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:

·   The biblical view of success.

·   The importance of a good résumé.  

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:

·   Set appropriate goals for success.

·   Write a résumé that gets results.

Tools for Career Success

Key Scripture: "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed" (Ps. 20:4).

Adopting a biblical view of success will change your life in such a dynamic way that coworkers and supervisors will take notice. The longer you pursue God’s way the less impressed you will be by human symbols of success. Professional recognition, financial status, and the approval of others will become insignificant as you develop a closer walk with the Lord.

God has created you with an innate need for ongoing integrity, satisfying relationships, and faithful service. As a Christian worker in the marketplace, you have at least four other needs: (1) to be known, accepted, and understood; (2) to be inspired to moral excellence; (3) to have resources for decision-making and problem-solving; and (4) to have resources for growing in Christ on the job.

Practical Tools for Success

Perhaps you would like to be practicing the biblical view of success in the marketplace, but presently you do not have a job. Do one or more of the following statements apply to you?

  • Do you feel that God is leading you to change careers?
  • Are you considering a career now that your children are grown?
  • Are you a recent college graduate who needs work experience?
  • Does your present job adequately provide for your family?
  • Are you a single parent who needs a job quickly?
  • Have you been laid off or fired from your previous job?

Whatever your situation, the Holy Spirit wants to guide you to the job best suited for you. As you pray, give your job search to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom and discernment. Once you have placed all your skills and talents under His direction, you are ready to begin. Being matched to the right job will result in multiple benefits for both you and your future employers.

The Job Search

Begin your search for a job by reviewing the classified section of area newspapers and doing online job searches. Then consult trade journals and directories of Christian career services. Next explore the local job market through employment commissions, job hotlines, online job search firms (i.e., www.careerbuilder.com) temporary and permanent employment agencies, colleges and universities, and the local chamber of commerce. Finally, network with family members, friends, neighbors, social acquaintances, coworkers, former bosses, social club members, church members, school acquaintances, and seminar speakers.

The Résumé - A Personal Advertisement 

Your résumé is a key marketing tool for getting you a job interview. It should create enough interest so that an employer will want to speak to you in person. A well-prepared résumé will introduce you in the most positive way. Your résumé should highlight: (1) what job you are seeking; (2) what you can do for a company; (3) your knowledge, skills, and talents; (4) your accomplishments; (5) previous positions held; (6) previous accountabilities; (7) background; and (8) training.

Its format, content, and appearance should accurately reflect your individuality. The information should be readable, concise, and accurate. A number of items should never be included in your resume—salary requirements, references, age, health, height and weight, religion, birthplace, pending marital status, or a photograph. Always write your own résumé. Avoid the use of pronouns, abbreviations, conjunctions, flowery language, or buzzwords. Steer away from broad generalizations, evidence of job hopping, or unexplained gaps in your work and educational background.

Construction of the Résumé

The chronological résumé lists your various positions in reverse order, with the most recent first. However, if you need to de-emphasize your employment record, use the functional résumé. Since the chronological résumé is used most frequently, its construction is outlined below.

Heading. Include your name, address, and telephone number. Separate the heading from the objective by an extra space.

Objectives. Point to your skills in several areas, present yourself as a problem solver, and indicate a desire to use your skills. Be specific enough for the employer to know what available positions might fit you. Also, customize your objective statement to fit your target company.

Experience. This is the "heart" of the résumé because it reveals your skill, experience, and education. State only facts, giving dates and numbers where possible. Be sure to: (1) emphasize the skills you want to use most; (2) use results-oriented terms; (3) use action verbs; (4) concentrate on skills, actions, and results; (5) highlight increases in the level or scope of your responsibility; (6) briefly describe past achievements; (7) never be negative about former employers or fellow workers; and (8) avoid giving reasons for leaving former employment.

Professional Affiliations. These can provide additional evidence of your qualifications for employment by including patents, certifications, publications, speeches, licenses, professional affiliations, professional honors, and special skills.

Education. Your education can reveal your basic intelligence, your activity level, the respect of your peers and mentors, the consistency of your interest, and your perseverance. Personal Interests. Your membership in civic, church, and charitable organizations suggests that you are a sociable, involved person. Your hobbies or interests may serve as an icebreaker with the interviewer.

References. Do not include references in the resume. If an employer asks, supply four references complete with name, address, and telephone number. Get advance permission from your references and ask only those who will give you a favorable recommendation.

Assembling Your Résumé

Carefully consider the physical design of your résumé. Keep it brief (one or two pages). Use wide margins on neutral, standard-size paper. Use an easy-to-read font with spaces between sections. Use only conventional English, and make sure that your spelling and grammar are perfect (a spell-check program is helpful, but might not catch all your mistakes). Have someone critique your first draft.

Cover Letter

Always include a cover letter to personalize and customize the résumé. Be succinct; one page or less is sufficient. Address the cover letter to a specific person, using his or her title and last name. Type an original on 8 1/2-by-11-inch personal stationery. Use the block form and include the date, recipient's name, and address. An interesting cover letter, written in a conversational tone, will make an employer anticipate the résumé.

The Interview

An interview is the exchange of information between the employer and the job candidate through questions and answers. There are three types of interviews. The first is the telephone interview, which may be used as a screening technique prior to an in-person interview. The second is the screening interview, which is usually conducted by a personnel specialist. This person evaluates the applicant's qualifications in an attempt to weed out unacceptable candidates. The third is the in-depth interview, which is usually conducted by the company manager. He or she seeks to determine the applicant's specific qualifications, depth of expertise, and interpersonal skills.

Goals of the Job Interview

Your goal during the interview is to make a good first impression and to develop a rapport with the employer. You must effectively communicate your suitability for the job and your desire to work for the employer. You should also try to gain an accurate understanding of the available position and the organization as a whole. The key to a successful interview of any kind is preparation.

Questions To Expect in an Interview

On Work History

1. What are some of your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

2. What have you learned from your past jobs?

3. Of all your jobs, which have you liked most? Least? Why?

4. What were the biggest pressures on your last job? How did you handle them?

5. What accomplishments have satisfied you most? Why?

On Career Goals or Plans

1. Describe an ideal job for yourself.

2. What would you like to be doing five years from now?

3. Why do you want to work for us?

4. What steps are you taking toward your career goals?

5. Why should I hire you before other candidates for this position?

On Education and Training

1. How has your education prepared you for this position?

2. Which classes did you like most/least? Why?

3. What extracurricular activities did you engage in? How did they contribute to your development as a person?

4. What consideration have you given to further education and/or training? In what areas would you like to develop further?

5. What new skills have you acquired during the past year?

On Self-Assessment

1. If you were asked to give "tips" to a future boss on how to supervise you best, what would you say?

2. What would you like your coworkers to say about you?

3. What really motivates you?

4. Can you work under pressure and deadlines?

5. How do you relate to people whose background or lifestyle is different from your own?

Questions To Ask the Interviewer

In a Screening Interview

1. How would you describe the duties of this position?

2. How would you describe a typical day in this position?

3. What personal qualities or characteristics are most important to success in this job?

4. What are the plans for future growth and development of the organization?

5. What kind of training do you provide? How long is it?

In an In-Depth Interview

1. What staff development is available after the initial training?

2. What is the normal trainee progression in the first few years?

3. What would I be expected to accomplish within the first year?

4. How often are performance reviews given?

5. How much travel is normally expected? How frequently do you relocate professional employees?

A Follow-Up Letter After the Interview

Send a follow-up letter expressing your appreciation for the interview. Restate your interest in the job and how your background and expertise meet the job requirements. Inform them that you will call later to see if the interviewer would like to discuss your employment further. If you are not interested in the job, still follow up with a letter giving thanks for the interview. Express your interest in working for the company in the event that another position becomes available.

The Result

Perhaps the most difficult phase of the job search is the waiting. You must remain confident that God has the best job in your future. If you are turned down for one position, continue your job search believing that God has your vocation under His sovereign control. Even in looking for employment, you must continue to affirm that "God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

Life Applications: The following is a one-week plan to help you honor Christ at work.

Day 1. Read Psalm 111 and underline every verse that portrays God as a worker.

Day 2. Read Psalm 8 and study the high position God has given you as His junior partner. Why do you think God gave humanity such a position?

Day 3. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 and 2:17-23. Note how futile work is when people work for self-gratification and leave God out of the picture. Read the author's conclusion in 5:18-20.

Day 4. The need to impress others will keep you from pleasing God. Study the following texts to review this concept: Proverbs 29:25; John 5:44, 12:42-43; Galatians 1:10.

Day 5. Read Ephesians 6:5-8 and list as many principles of work as you can find in these verses.

Day 6. Which is more significant in God's kingdom - a carpenter or a missionary? Read 1 Corinthians 7:20-24.

Day 7. Read Matthew 22:37-39. How can you love Christ more in your work? How can you love your coworker more like yourself?  

Take the quiz

Quiz Instructions

Test your knowledge by taking this short quiz which covers what you just read in chapters 13-16. Select the correct response based on the lessons and concepts.

1. The root problem of busyness and boredom is a lack of purpose in life.



2. A biblical view of leisure must go hand in hand with a biblical view of __________.



3. The Bible teaches a hierarchy of priorities.



4. Unorganized, undisciplined work habits are one of the reasons for working too many hours.



5. A __________ is a break from remunerative work, a day of rest.



6. Ministry occurs only inside the local church.



7. Look for the __________, or basic truths, underlying a biblical text.



8. Christ should be equated with the institutionalized, local church.



9. Training in __________ will help you answer basic questions non-Christians ask about Christianity.



10. A __________ should be specific, measurable, achievable, and compatible with your schedule and means.



11. Christians should keep silent to avoid foisting their beliefs on others.



12. A __________ is made up of a person's values, perceptions, beliefs, and assumptions.



13. The strategic point of impact of the Christian worldview is the __________.



14. The process that results in Christlikeness is discipleship.



15. __________ messages communicate the most in the Great Conversation.



16. Always speak from __________ about your relationship with Christ.



17. It is permissible to "use" a relationship with a coworker as a pretext for evangelism.



18. Lay affinity groups have __________ value in creating solidarity with others who share Christian convictions.



19. The emphasis of small groups should be on the __________ of God's truth.



20. A __________ is a statement of purpose and motives.


Career manifesto

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