As a social worker, you know that your job requires a unique combination of compassion, problem-solving skills, and a knack for paperwork. Therefore, putting together the perfect social worker resume that shows all of these qualities may seem like an insurmountable task.
But fear not, because that’s precisely what this article is here to help with!
We’re going to teach you how to create a clean and professional resume that will grab the attention of even the most indomitable hiring manager.
Since we know that you have people to help and problems to solve, let’s not waste time anymore and dive deep into the matter at hand!
The best resume format for the majority of candidates is the chronological one.
In most cases, your resume should be one page long, with distinct sections and easy-to-read information.
Your resume should start with a strong objective or summary to grab recruiters’ attention.
Internships, volunteer work, or similar activities are great substitutes if you’re an entry-level candidate who lacks professional history.
A personalized cover letter that matches your resume and is tailored to the job that you’re applying for will increase your chances of landing the job you want.
What is the Right Format to Use for a Social Worker Resume?
Hiring managers often have to go through numerous social worker resumes in a short period of time. Most likely, they won't pay much attention to ones that are badly formatted or don't look good. That’s why you need a proven resume format that will give them information in a clear and concise way.
One of the most popular formats that the majority of candidates use with great success is the chronological resume format. It’s designed to showcase your professional and academic progress while emphasizing your latest accomplishment.
By listing your work history and education in reverse-chronological order, you give recruiters all the information that they want to see. Plus, that arrangement also works well with the ATS.
The functional resume format is another one that’s commonly used, and it’s best for entry-level social workers. This format emphasizes your skills section, which is perfect if you have little to no professional experience. The only trouble is that it might run into issues with the ATS.
On the other hand, if you have more experience than your average candidate, you can take advantage of the combination (hybrid) resume format. As a blend of the previous two formats, this one also makes your skills the focal point of your resume, but it strengthens each skill with impressive workplace accomplishments.
A human brain processes visual data much better than text. That’s why it’s crucial that your social worker resume features a strong layout in addition to a professional format. Giving recruiters pages of dense paragraphs, even if the information they contain is great, is a surefire way to get your resume discarded.
For starters, your resume should be one page long. That’s usually more than enough for all but seasoned veterans with decades of experience. To achieve that while including all the important details, you should use concise bullet lists instead of blocks of text.
Moreover, you need a clean and professional font that’s easy to read (e.g., Arial or Helvetica). Avoid stylized, unprofessional, and script fonts like Comic Sans or Papyrus.
Speaking of fonts, an optimal font size for text is 10–12 pt with 14–16 pt headings. That, in combination with 1-inch margins and white space between sections, will make your resume neat, organized, and easy to read and skim through.
What Sections Should a Social Worker Resume Contain?
All the information in your social worker resume should be split into sections for readability and ease of use. There are two types of sections, and they are:
Mandatory sections, which give recruiters and potential employers all the necessary information they want to see.
Optional sections, which serve to convey additional valuable information, infuse your resume with a bit of personality, and help you stand out among the competition.
Mandatory parts are:
Optional parts include:
Licenses and certifications
Conferences and publications
Hobbies and interests
You can easily organize your whole resume with these lists and make sure you don't leave out any important parts. However, there’s an even easier way to approach the whole process—by using our resume builder.
We offer an intuitive and feature-packed software solution that can help anyone—from an absolute beginner to an industry professional—create a resume quickly and effortlessly. You can use its features to change every aspect of your resume layout with one click while simultaneously filling in the blanks with your details.
Social Worker Resume Contact Information
Before we dive deeper into the more complex sections of your social worker resume, let’s start with a straightforward one—your contact information.
This part goes at the top of your resume, and it should feature the following details:
Optionally, you could include additional information, such as:
Your location, but only if you’re applying for a job abroad—and even then, just list your city and state
Relevant social media profile, with LinkedIn being the most commonly used one in the business world
Now let’s see what that looks like on a resume:
Contact Information Example
+ 330 388 5360
The most important thing about your contact information is that it should be precise and error-free. A single misplaced character can make your phone number or email address unusable.
Furthermore, you want to maintain a professional tone right from the start. That means that you need a business email address and not something along the lines of “email@example.com.”
Social Worker Resume Objective or Summary
A resume objective or summary works in tandem with your contact information section to form your resume header. It’s an introductory paragraph whose goal is to highlight your key strengths in 2–4 sentences.
Considering this is one of the first things recruiters will see when they take a look at your resume, it’s crucial to get this part right. Depending on the amount of professional experience that you have, you’ll use one or the other.
If you’re a new social worker who doesn’t have much work history, you should write an objective for your resume that will highlight your skills, drive, and career goals.
However, if you have years of experience under your belt, you’ll want to leverage that by writing a social worker resume summary. Emphasize your most prominent achievements, and you’ll have recruiters’ attention.
Social Worker Resume Objective
There are many different ways to write an engaging social worker resume objective that demonstrates your qualities. You can talk about your academic achievements, skills, the experience you got from internships or volunteering, and more.
It also helps you display passion for the profession and the drive to succeed. You want to show possible employers that you can bring a lot to the table and that you have a lot of potential.
Here’s a good example of a well-written resume objective:
“Highly motivated and passionate CSW social worker with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work excited to apply for an entry-level position at [your organization]. Volunteered for the American Red Cross, which resulted in commendations for the ability to conduct assessments, develop and implement care plans, and provide crisis intervention. Eager to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in need.”
However, you can be as skilled as a seasoned veteran, but if you don’t showcase that properly in your resume objective, you’ll end up with a bland-looking one, like in the following example:
“Interpersonal social worker with many valuable soft skills looking to start working in the field. I have no professional experience, but I learn quickly.”
Social Worker Resume Summary
When writing a social worker resume summary, you want to encapsulate all your qualities in this brief and information-packed paragraph. By highlighting your most remarkable accomplishments, you’ll stand out as a highly skilled and exceptionally competent candidate.
Here’s a good example:
“LMSW with 7+ years of experience providing counseling and therapy and advocating for clients’ rights. Effectively managed a large caseload at [previous company], assisting 43 individuals under the age of 18, performing monthly visits, giving advice, and developing and implementing plans to improve care. Proven ability to work in interdisciplinary teams.”
What you shouldn’t do is make vague statements about your abilities and experience without providing any apparent results, like in the following bad resume summary example:
“Competent social worker with a passion for helping others looking to apply for the open position. Successfully worked with diverse populations. Capable of building trusting relationships.”
While all of the skills and traits that the candidate mentioned are highly sought-after in social workers, they are just unfounded claims without proof.
Social Worker Resume Work Experience
The work experience section is generally the focal point of a social worker resume, so let’s see how you can get the most out of it.
One of the best ways to start the work experience section is with your most recent job. This entry should feature the following details:
The organization and its location
Dates of employment
A bullet list of results and achievements
If you have more than one job to include, you can add them in reverse-chronological order.
To make sure that you’ve provided enough valuable information without overburdening your resume too much, you should add 3–5 bullet points per position. Use those points to focus only on the most notable accomplishments and most impressive results instead of listing down everyday tasks and responsibilities.
Since you want to be concise, you should use numbers, percentages, and statistics whenever possible. They convey a lot of information while simultaneously quantifying your achievements and making them more concrete.
Furthermore, you should include catchy action verbs and power words instead of all the cliche terms that everyone puts in their resumes. Words like “advocated,” “established,” “intervened,” and “co-facilitated” will help you make this section interesting and memorable.
Social Worker With No Experience
When writing a social worker resume with no experience, there are substitute activities to include instead of your work history. For instance, you can talk about your internships, volunteer work, or even academic projects.
Here's an example of a candidate who leveraged their internship for such purposes:
Social Work Intern
Social Work Intern
ABC Mental Health Clinic
Los Angeles, CA
My 2021–August 2021
Assisted in conducting intake assessments for clients with mental health disorders, contributing to a 23% increase in the clinic’s capacity to serve clients in need.
Co-facilitated group therapy sessions on topics such as coping skills, self-care, and communication.
Collaborated with interdisciplinary team members, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and case managers, to ensure coordinated care for clients.
Experienced Social Worker
Regardless of the fact that you might have years of experience in the field, you should still keep your list of achievements short. Instead of going overboard and listing every minor accomplishment, focus on those that will make you truly stand out.
Let’s check out a good example:
XYZ Community Services
New York, NY
Developed and implemented individualized treatment plans, resulting in a 31% increase in clients achieving their treatment goals.
De-escalated situations and prevented hospitalization in 75% of cases by providing crisis intervention and support to clients experiencing acute mental health episodes.
Advocated for clients’ rights, resulting in a 27% increase in successful access to housing and healthcare.
Social Worker Resume Education Section
Do you have a degree that adds credibility to your competence? Show it on your resume, and recruiters will trust your work experience and skills more. Here are the details to start with:
Institution name and location
Years of attendance
If you have obtained exceptional results or performed notable activities that can boost your chances with future employers, you can list them as bullet points. Anything from a GPA of 3.5 and above to relevant courses, extracurricular activities, and abroad studies is welcome in your education section.
Here’s an example of what that can look like in practice:
Education Section Example
Master of Social Work (MSW)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Summa Cum Laude
Bachelor of Social Work
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Relevant coursework: Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Research Methods in Social Work, Crisis Intervention and Trauma-Informed Practice
As you can see, the candidate added two noteworthy degrees with achievements in reverse-chronological order. While that’s a great way to make your education section more prominent (which is perfect if you lack professional experience), you should avoid including a high school diploma unless it’s your highest one.
On the flip side, you should add your higher degree even if you haven’t obtained it yet. You could be applying for a job as a student, in which case you’d put “expected” next to a graduation date or simply write “current” instead.
Social Worker Resume Skills
How do you best show that you have the skills for the job? With your social worker resume skills section, of course.
The good thing is that there aren’t many obstacles to overcome when writing this part of your resume. There are two main principles to follow, and they are:
Keep your skills relevant to the position that you’re applying for
Prove your skills
For example, a school social worker resume should likely feature a vastly different skill set than a clinical social worker resume. That’s why you should do your research, look into the organization, and thoroughly read the job ad to find out which skills they are looking for.
After you do all the groundwork, it’ll be easy to create a list of soft and hard skills to add to your resume. Then, you should start working on demonstrating your abilities.
You can do that by adding some of your most prominent skills throughout your social worker resume. Put them next to relevant accomplishments in the bullet points of your work experience section. Another place for them is your resume objective or summary.
Hard (technical) skills are taught and learned, and they are specific to the role of a social worker. Some technical skills you could add to your resume include:
Treatment plan development
Soft skills are commonly known as "people skills." They help you interact with others and perform better. While they are incredibly valuable, you shouldn’t go overboard listing them since they are hard to prove. Only list a couple of the most prominent soft skills, such as:
Social Worker Resume Optional Sections
Do you have important details to share that don’t belong in any of the mandatory sections? Use some optional ones instead, and you might get ahead of the competition.
Licenses & Certifications
Properly demonstrating your certification and licensure can help you get ahead of the competition on the spot. Some people mistakenly use the terms interchangeably, but there are stark differences between licenses and certifications.
Having a license is often a legal requirement to be able to practice as a social worker in the first place. They show that a candidate has met certain standards of education, training, and ethical conduct.
Some licenses that a social worker could add to their resume include:
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
Licenses can be so important that you should consider putting them right at the top of your resume, next to your name.
On the other hand, certifications demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills in particular areas of social work practice. Their purpose is supplemental, as they provide additional credentials and recognition to candidates. That can result in increased job opportunities, higher salaries, faster career progress, and more.
Examples of certifications for social workers are:
Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW)
Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
Conferences & Publications
Conferences give social workers opportunities for professional development, networking, and learning about the latest research, practices, and trends in the field.
Publications help experienced and proficient social workers disseminate their knowledge to a wider audience. Published research articles, case studies, and other works in academic journals, books, and various media show a high degree of competence that’s been recognized by peers in the industry.
The benefits of listing conferences and publications on your resume are numerous, including:
Demonstrating professional development and commitment to staying current with the latest trends
Highlighting expertise in a particular area of social work practice, research, or policy
Enhancing credibility by showing a track record of contributions to the field
Hobbies & Interests
At first glance, your hobbies and interests have nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. That’s why many candidates don’t even consider this section when writing their resume. However, these details are perfect for showing the real you to employers.
Briefly mention something that you truly enjoy and show that there’s a passionate and exciting individual behind the social worker resume. Moreover, your hobbies and interests can indicate that you practice self-care, which is essential for social workers.
We already talked about how you can use volunteer work as a substitute for professional experience. Still, your volunteer activities are valuable enough to be included in a separate optional section. On top of adding value to your experience, they show dedication to the profession and portray you as a compassionate and hardworking individual.
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Social Worker Resume?
The benefits of submitting a cover letter with your social worker resume far outweigh the effort required to write it. For starters, you get more real estate to talk about your proficiency and accomplishments.
Moreover, a well-written cover letter speaks about your communication skills as well. Lastly, it’s a perfect opportunity to connect with recruiters on a personal level by addressing them by name and finishing the letter with a call to action.
Expert Tips for Creating a Social Worker Resume
We’re close to the finish line, so let’s wrap things up with a couple of expert tips that not many job seekers know about:
By writing a resume objective or summary last, it’ll be much easier to pick the most valuable skills or impressive achievements to include.
Your education section can be more detailed if you have modest work experience. However, if you’re vastly experienced, you should keep the education section brief.
A single mistake can draw attention away from the entire resume, so make sure to proofread everything thoroughly and keep it spotless.
You should write a new cover letter for every new job that you’re applying for. For the best chances of success, you should also adjust your resume to tailor it for the specific position.
As you can see, putting together a social worker resume requires a balance between highlighting your unique skills and experience and remaining humble and professional. While that might not seem like an easy feat, it’s not harder than all the tough challenges that you face in your profession.
The resume-building endeavor is no different than that. Approach it with the same level of determination and empathy that you bring to your work every day, and you’re bound to succeed.
With the tips and guides provided in this article and a little bit of personality from your end, your resume is all but guaranteed to get you your dream job!