10 Essential Tips for an Amazing Social Work Résumé

10 Essential Tips for an Amazing Social Work Résumé

If you are looking for a job as a social worker, your resume needs to be at its best. Your social work resume needs to be professional in tone and free of errors. Your social work résumé should also showcase your skills, education, and experience. 


Before sending your social work resume, take another look at it to be sure it is updated and accurate. These tips can help you ensure your resume is impressive. 

1. Be Specific in Your Explanations

When you write your resume, imagine that the reader does not know you at all. Be specific when you craft your descriptions. 


As you write your social work résumé, explain your previous positions and brag about your experiences. Rather than writing just a job title and expecting the hiring manager to know everything about you, describe the job you did and the clients you helped. You can also share information about the organizations you worked for in the past. 


When you write about your previous jobs and education experience, keep the information brief. Bullet lists and short phrases are better than wordy sentences and paragraphs. 

2. Include Your Professional Summary

Rather than writing about your professional goals and objectives, summarize what you have done professionally. The only social workers who should include an objective are those just graduating from college. If you have experience, share that. The hiring manager is aware that you are interested in finding a new job – that is why you shared your resume. 

3. Share Your Accomplishments

Duties and accomplishments are different. You should share information about your daily responsibilities. You should also include accomplishments that separate you from other social workers who might submit their resumes for the same position. 


When you write about your accomplishments, try to quantify them the best you can. Describe the people you helped, the special projects you completed, and the committees you joined. Share just enough information, so the hiring manager wants to know more about you. 


4. Customize Your Resume for the Open Position

It is easy to build a resume and use it for all open positions. To impress hiring managers, craft your resume for each position you want. Include keywords that show the hiring manager that you understand the needs of the opportunity. You can find the keywords in the job description and then use other terms that fit the served population. 


If you have taken any highly relevant courses, briefly include them on your resume. Because space is limited, only include those relevant to the specific position and the job description keywords.

5. Remove Your References

Years ago, applicants put references on their resumes. Now, the common phrase at the end of most resumes is “References available upon request.” It would be best to have references readily available, but you do not list them at the end of your resume. Instead, have them on a separate document that you can send to the hiring manager if they request them. 


Before you add a reference to your list, confirm that your friend or colleague will help you in your job search. Prepare your references for the hiring manager’s phone call by sharing the job descriptions and a copy of your resume. Your reference might not remember every little thing you did, so leaving them with a resume gives them the information they need. 


Your references should be people who know you well enough to talk about you. They should be people you have worked with recently, and they should be able to talk about your abilities as a social worker. 

6. Use Bulleted Lists

Hiring managers have limited time, so they cannot read lengthy paragraphs on resumes. Instead, condense your information into useful, easy-to-read bullet lists. Remember that hiring managers might only spend 30 seconds looking at your resume. 


Keep your bullet sections between three and eight. If you cannot get to three bullets, don’t include any information because the minor details won’t show much about you. Include bullet lists in categories where you shine. 

7. Include Relevant Topics

Some social workers include too many topics in their resumes. Rather than writing about different types of education and relevant coursework, volunteer skills vs. work skills, publications and honors, condense your categories and fill them with pertinent information. 


If your resume has unnecessary and repetitive content, you are dooming yourself to the “no” pile. With hiring managers only giving 15 to 30 seconds to each resume, you must present professionally and concisely on paper. Simple categories like education, experience, and accomplishments might be all you need. 


Even if you have been a social worker for 30 years, condense your resume to fit on one page. Hiring managers want to know where you have worked, your duties, and what accomplishments you earned. You can do this briefly and interestingly. 


A resume is not an interview; it is the outline with details a hiring manager needs to decide whether to call you for an interview. There, you can share more information about yourself. 

8. Include Numerical Evidence

When you share details about your experiences and accomplishments, use numbers. Those measurable accomplishments help you stand out from the crowd and get you closer to the next step – an interview. 


Talk about the clients you helped, the grants you won, and the people you supervise. Only use numbers when you can use them to your advantage when they show your greatness. 

9. Avoid Using Acronyms

Social workers use acronyms when working, but they should not use them on their resumes. Instead, they should save the acronyms for case notes. Your social work resume needs to be readable by hiring managers who may not be familiar with acronyms


Rather than assume the hiring manager knows the acronyms, write them out. If the hiring manager cannot determine your credentials because of too many acronyms, your resume will land in the “no” pile. 


You should use people-centered language that engages the hiring manager. Talk about the people you have helped, rather than the disabilities they had. Your language should be respectful, professional, and focus on people first. Pay attention to the job description and make your resume language match it. 

10. Add Your Credentials

The only acronyms you should use on your resume are the ones that show your credentials. Rather than hiding them in your resume, place your credentials after your name in the header. The hiring manager will know the MSW and LCSW acronyms, so the best place to put them is at the very top of your resume. Use them in your email signature and on your cover letter, too. 


Final Thoughts

Your resume should be structured professionally, with simple headers and neat formatting. Choose keywords to attract hiring managers and software systems. Include notable accomplishments, relevant coursework and degrees, and related experience. 


Most importantly, before you submit your resume, proofread it several times. Read your resume aloud and ask a trusted friend, family member, or colleague to read it. Run it through an online grammar checker to find errors that you might overlook. 


Hiring managers pay attention to detail, and they will expect you to do the same. Your resume is a brief look into your professional life, and it should represent all you have accomplished. Minor errors reflect poorly on you.

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