5 Resume Tips for Social Workers

Social workers have an important impact on society. They improve the lives of program clients on a daily basis. While one person may be a recipient of a social welfare program’s services (i.e. a government-based or non-profit based agency), the benefits are not just limited to him or her. There can be spillover effects that benefit that individual’s family, friends, and community. As a social worker seeking work, you should target your resume to agencies where you can have the largest impact or highest job satisfaction. These five tips will help in your search.

1. Highlight related experience.

In the process of acquiring a social worker degree and professional certification, you’ve probably worked in more than one program. By highlighting experience that relates to the agency specified in a job posting, you can gain an edge over inexperienced applicants. According to the Smith College Lazarus Center for Career Development, this might include field placements, projects, jobs, internships, and volunteer positions.

2. Be strategic.

Be sure to highlight related experience in the most strategic place on your resume. This could be in a list of qualifications or under a bulleted list of professional achievements. Most resumes are initially screened by automated recruitment software. Then, humans who read resumes will spend mere seconds deciding whether your resume belongs in the slush pile.

3. Be specific.

Even in government and non-profit agencies, resume reviewers prefer to understand how an applicant is a fit for a social worker position. That’s where the use of anecdotes and specific details become helpful. For example, you can specify the number of clients in your monthly or yearly caseload or the number of cases that you completed within a year. Statistics are useful for understanding your efficiency or level of responsibility.

4. Don’t exaggerate.

There is a common human tendency to make something more out of what you have accomplished. Of course, you want to impress your reader, and you want to appear so well-qualified that you are sought after for an interview. Remember, everything that you include on your resume is subject to verification. Therefore, it’s important not to exaggerate your experience or include qualifications that cannot be verified by a former supervisor or colleague.

5. Think outside the box.

Somewhere in your professional background and experiences in undergraduate and graduate school, there are unique experiences worth showcasing on your social worker resume. If as a social worker you have served a disadvantaged population in a foreign country, for example, describe the unique attributes of that group of people. If you volunteered in a community with personal significance to your family, you could describe how it changed your life. Strive for relevancy.

A well-written resume is a few hundred words in length at most. Therefore, you don’t get much of an opportunity to express your strengths. Use your resume to connect with readers and show how your unique combination of education and experience will benefit the target agency.