Social Work Resume Skills: What to Include (With Tips)

Updated 26 May 2023

When pursuing a career as a social worker, it's important for you to create a resume that represents your abilities and entices a hiring manager to learn more about you. This includes providing specific information about yourself, such as your educational background, professional credentials, work history and relevant skills. In this article, we discuss important skills for a social worker to have, what skills to list on a social work resume, how to describe your experience on a social work resume, what a social worker's resume should look like and other helpful tips.

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What skills should a social worker have?

A social worker should have a combination of soft and hard skills. Soft skills relate to your personality, habits and general abilities. Hard skills, however, are more technical skills directly related to your abilities as a social worker that you develop through special training or education.

Some important skills for a social worker to develop include:

  • Ability to set boundaries: Being able to set boundaries is important for fields like social work that can be demanding. Setting boundaries can help social workers maintain professional relationships with their clients and maintain work-life balance.

  • Active listening: Active listening skills help social workers best listen to and understand what their clients are telling them. These skills also help social workers understand directions provided or information given by other professionals assisting the same clients.

  • Communication: Communication skills include developing excellent written and verbal communication skills. It's important for social workers to have meaningful conversations with their clients, share information with others, maintain records and prepare other documents.

  • Counselling: Counselling skills include an array of skills that allow someone to understand the needs and concerns of others to help them work through their problems. These skills are important for social workers to support their clients and meet their needs.

  • Crisis intervention: Crisis intervention is often a primary responsibility of social workers who respond to family or other emotional crises. Crisis intervention skills allow the social worker to assess the situation properly, reduce tension and provide appropriate support.

  • Critical thinking skills: Critical thinking skills allow you to evaluate all the facts in a situation to identify potential causes and solutions. These skills are essential for social workers to be able to assist their clients with complex life problems.

  • Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence, or empathy, refers to the ability to regulate your own emotions and be receptive to and understand other people's emotions. This may help social workers better understand their clients and their unique needs.

  • Organisational skills: Organisational skills relate to the ability to manage multiple tasks or cases at the same time and maintain a properly organised office space. These skills are important to allow social workers to work on multiple cases at once and keep all files and information organised properly.

  • Time management: Time management skills include a social worker's ability to schedule their day appropriately to complete all of their tasks without compromising quality. These skills help social workers to spend adequate time with all of their clients as well as complete administrative tasks.

Read more: Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

What skills should I put on my resume for social work?

As you create your social work resume, it's important to include skills that best represent your abilities. Include a combination of soft skills and hard skills, and consider using adjectives or creating longer descriptions to best represent your aptitude for a specific skill. Also, review the job posting before creating your resume. Add specific skills mentioned in the posting that you have experience with to your resume.

Some examples of social worker skills to add to your resume include:

  • Active learning or listening

  • Assessment

  • Building rapport

  • Collaboration

  • Communication

  • Counselling

  • Crisis intervention

  • Critical thinking

  • Developing treatment plans

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Empathy

  • Evaluation

  • Human behaviour

  • Intervention

  • Observation

  • Organisation

  • Perceptiveness

  • Persuasion

  • Policy awareness

  • Psychopathology

  • Record-keeping

  • Research

  • Understanding of ethics

Read more: 10 Best Skills to Include on a Resume

How do you describe social work on a resume?

It's important for you to represent your experience and qualifications accurately on your resume. Here are a few ways to describe your social work experience on your resume:

Include a summary

A professional summary, or a resume summary, is a short professional statement placed at the top of your resume. Adding a professional summary to your resume provides you with the opportunity to highlight your strengths and experiences immediately. It helps the hiring manager learn right away why you are a suitable candidate for the position and encourages them to learn more about you.

You may also choose to include an objective rather than a professional summary. A professional objective, or a resume objective, is also a short statement placed at the top of your resume. This statement, however, focuses on your career goals rather than your experiences, and it may be a good option if you do not have relevant social work experience yet.

Read more: How to Write a Resume Summary with Examples

List your education

Demonstrate your qualifications as a social worker by including your education information. List the schools you attended, specifying your area of study and the dates you attended. If applicable, include any awards you received or any special achievements reached while studying.

Create a separate list for your relevant licences and certifications. If you have several of each, consider separating them into their own specific lists of licences or certifications. Include the name of the organisation you earned each certification from, and add the year and month when you earned it.

Provide your work history

Detail your experience as a social worker through your work history. Include the name of your employer, your title and the dates you worked there. Add a bulleted list of your responsibilities in this position, being as specific as possible. Highlight any special awards you received or achievements you made during your time in this position.

If you do not have professional social work experience yet, it's still beneficial for you to include your work history on your resume. Start by adding any internships or work placements you've completed. Add other positions you worked in, and include responsibilities that may relate to a social worker's duties or that display important skills for a social worker to have.

Read more: How to Show Work Experience on Your Resume (With Example and Tips)

What should a social work resume look like?

A social work resume should be a well-organised document that accurately reflects your abilities and qualifications as a social worker. The document should not exceed one standard-size piece of computer paper in length, and it's important to organise the information in a logical way for the reader. Consider including the most important information at the top to best capture the attention of the hiring manager.

Explore resume formats before choosing one that best suits your preferences. It's important to choose a format that visually breaks up different sections of content to guide the reader, such as through the use of subheadings. Some individuals prefer to list all of their information in one large column on the page, while others choose to create smaller columns with design elements to create contrast between them. Regardless of what you choose, ensure your resume is accurate and easy for the reader to understand.

Read more: Resume Format Guide (With Examples)

Tips for creating a social work resume

Consider these tips as you create your own resume as a social worker:

Tailor your resume

Tailor your resume each time you apply for a job. This helps ensure the resume you provide best aligns with what the employer requests from you. Consider creating a base resume that you may customise for each position that you pursue.

Review the job description

Review the job description or posting before you begin your resume. This allows you to verify your interest in the position and determine if you have the appropriate qualifications and experience. As you review your resume, look for specific skills it requests or duties it lists that you possess or have experience doing. Be sure to include these on your resume.

Reflect your skills in your work history

Use your work history as another opportunity to demonstrate your relevant skills. As you list your previous work experience, be specific about your responsibilities or duties at that job. Describe what you did at that job in a way that contextualises your skills and shows your abilities.

Research the company

Research the company as you create your resume. Look for opportunities to learn more about its company culture, mission and vision, and be sure you understand specifically what the company does. Create a resume that aligns with these aspects of the organisation.

Focus on the organisation

Focus on how you could benefit the organisation if they hired you more than how you would benefit from receiving a job offer. Include your career achievements, especially those that align with the specific position. Highlight unique skills or qualifications you have that may distinguish you from other applicants.

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