ROME – Breaking with a long-standing tradition in which hiring has been conducted largely on the basis of family ties and personal friendships, the Vatican has launched what amounts to a “help wanted” website, listing available positions and inviting qualified candidates to apply.

The new website operated by the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy came on-line Tuesday, and is titled “Work with Us.”

Spanish layman Maximino Caballero Ledo, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a former executive with Baxter Healthcare in the U.S., styled the new approach to hiring as key to the broader effort at financial reform of the Vatican under Pope Francis.

“A central theme in the economic reform concerns personnel, which, as always, is one of the most complex reforms to implement,” Caballero told Vatican News, the official state-sponsored media platform.

“This is because to implement the reform and carry out the mission of the Holy See, we need people with the appropriate competence, motivation, and, above all, an ethical sense,” he said.

In part, the new approach is intended to produce a better match between candidates and the skills required for a particular position. In the past, hiring was often done on the basis of general applications filed by candidates without knowing which specific jobs were available.

At the moment, the new site lists four positions currently available in the Vatican, three of which deal with financial administration:

  • A native-language Portuguese editor for Vatican media
  • A risk manager for the financial/real estate sector
  • A securities analysis and trade officer
  • A compliance officer for the financial/real estate sector

In each cases, a brief job description  and required skills are listed for the position, along with a standard disclaimer: “Given the pastoral and ecclesial nature of the service, conformity with the principles of the doctrine of the Church is presumed.”

The online form for candidates to submit an application requests the usual basics, including a summary of professional experience, educational background, professional certifications and language abilities, and in addition also asks for an ecclesiastical letter of recommendation from one’s pastor, or a priest or religious the candidate knows personally.

If someone seeking work in the Vatican doesn’t see a job currently open for which they feel qualified, they may also leave a general résumé on file to be considered as other positions become available.

Luis Herrera, a Spanish HR official who was named the Vatican’s first Director of Human Resources last year, said the new hiring system can also help promote internal mobility within the Vatican, notifying current personnel when other positions open up through an employee portal and giving them the chance to apply.

At the moment, there are roughly 3,000 employees of the Holy See, more than half laity, with average salaries ranging from $1,300 to $3,700 a month, which is not taxed. Firing in the Vatican is extremely rare, so job security makes these positions generally perceived as desirable by many Italians.