Your CV/resume is ready and you are planning on sending it out to employers.
Well, you may have perfected your CV/resume to the best of your ability, but these essential tips will help make your resume outstanding!
So today, I will compile some best tips for writing a social work resume that will help land you more interviews and get you the ideal job offer. Remember to check out my article on how to ace your first social work job interview for “no fail tips” on how to get hired!
13 Best Tips for Writing A Social Work CV/Resume
When you look at a social work job description, it highlights a gratifying and rewarding career. You get to help others reach a better quality of life and make a significant, positive difference in society.
But as any individual in a competitive market knows, getting a position in most job roles can be a challenge. Therefore, knowing how to create the ideal CV/resume is vital to success and is key when evidencing your skills and knowledge.
Whether you are a student, newly qualified, or an experienced social worker, and looking for a new company to work for, you will find these 13 fundamental tips useful if you want to create the perfect Social Work CV/resume that will make you outshine others and get noticed.
Sit back, grab a cup of tea, and enjoy this ride.
What is a CV?
A CV (Curriculum Vitæ) is a detailed document that may be two or more pages long. It contains a high level of information about your achievements, career history, publications, awards and career history chronologically.
What is a Resume?
A resume, or résumé, is a concise document typically no longer than one page. The goal of a resume is to make an individual stand out from the competition and doesn’t have to be ordered chronologically.
What are the differences between CVs and resume?
There are three key differences between CVs and resumes are the length, the purpose, and the layout. The job specification will highlight whether a CV or a resume is required.
What Should You Include in a Social Work CV/Resume?
Tip 1: Keep Your Profile or Summary Informative but Short and Sweet
Add an aim or objective. We often overlook an objective on a CV/resume, but we should not ignore this. This is where, in just a sentence or two, you get to summarise your values and skills and give your potential employer the quick ability to see if you are an excellent match or not for their company.
If you are newly qualified, then you will not have to write a lengthy summary. You can use an objective here as you have very little experience which you have gathered during placement. If you are an experienced social worker, you will have more experience and can summarise this in 2 or 3 sentences. Only put across the values and skills you bring as a social worker to the role you are applying for. Start with your social work responsibilities followed by your technical and soft skills.
DO NOT WRITE: I am seeking a role where I can use my skills and experience to help improve the way of working in the organisation.
WRITE: A committed social worker with experience spanning over 5 years in child protection, adult social work, court work and report writing. I possess strong working knowledge of Microsoft office suite and have empathic and analytical skills.
Tip 2: Easy to Read Format
Format your Social Work resume to be clean, easy to follow and ensure it is organised. Steer clear of hard to read fonts and do not squash all your information together. This will make your document look messy and cluttered. Use line spacing, make it clear, and concise.
Although it is a good idea to have a CV/resume on one – two pages, do not sacrifice the appeal and quality. If it ends up on two or three pages, it is better than a poor presentation. Some format layouts you can try include:
- Reverse-Chronological: Starting with your most recent experiences and working down to the oldest.
- Functional: Information focus on practical experience and skills, and less about your job history.
- Combination: Uses both the above formats, leading with a description of your qualifications and related skills, followed by a breakdown of your work experience.
DO NOT USE: Small font sizes, long paragraphs,
USE: Font size (example: font – Arial and size – 12), spacing, brief paragraphs, bullet points, numbers.
Tip 3: Use Bullets At All Times
A CV/résumés will appeal to the reader if it is formatted nicely by bulleting. However, there are a handful of job seekers who use paragraphs to describe their experience. You may have 20 years of social work experience, but that does not mean you can’t be concise. Don’t make the employer glance at your CV and put it aside because it has a long paragraph to look for keywords and make sense of what you are trying to put across.
Write your CV/résumé in such a way that it is easy to scan and find the keywords in 30 seconds or less. Use three to eight bullets to describe your experience and accomplishments.
Tip 4: Avoid Acronyms
Format your Social Work resume and ensure that you use no acronyms. Yes, I am a social worker and we love to use acronyms! We spend long hours writing reports, case notes and assessments. To be efficient, we rely on acronyms to describe the work we have completed. Although this helps save time and we understand what those acronyms mean among ourselves, we should not assume that the employer will understand these acronyms, so it is important to spell things out so it does not mislead the reader.
DO NOT WRITE: I attended CIN meetings and worked on CP cases.
WRITE: I attended Child in Need (CIN) meetings and worked on Child Protection (CP) cases.
Tip 5: Mirror Your Experience to the Job You are Applying For
This means looking at the job description and asking yourself if you have the same experience and qualifications that the role is asking for. If you don’t, then you need to ask yourself where it is the right time to apply for this role. Perhaps you may need to remain in your current job and take on some extra responsibilities to gain the required knowledge and experience. You can then apply for a similar role when one becomes available.
Tip 6: Note Keywords in the Job Description
Highlight the keywords in the job description and use these when describing your experience and knowledge. Look at these and match them to plan your CV/resume. Describe your experience based on what the job is about. This will show a clear sign that your experience matches the role. Mimic the keywords required in the job and incorporate in the phrases you use.
Example: If the job descriptions states that – we require a social worker who has experience in preparing court reports, you can then say in your description or experience that I prepared court reports while working in the Referral and Assessment team
Tip 7: Match Your Qualifications
You will want to do this for every position you apply for. Take the time to read through the requirements and qualifications of the listing and alter your resume to reflect what they are looking for in a candidate. For example, if the company is hyper-focused about social work productivity on a resume, then you should showcase your skills in this area to match that.
Tip 8: Put Your Most Important Qualifications and Achievements First
Most employers do not read every CV/resume word for word or at first glance; they skim through to pick out relevant details, and if they do not see any, they will go to the next one. They want to see your credentials and experiences without having to search through the rest of your resume to find it. So, by putting your most notable qualifications and achievements at the top, they are more likely to be drawn to that and be interested in getting to know you more.
WRITE: MSc in Social Work, Practice Educator or Mary Smith (MSc, PE)
DO NOT WRITE: MSc PE as a standalone
Tip 9: Quantify Your Achievements Where Possible
Have you saved time, saved money, improved a process, or perhaps increased productivity in any role? Numbers aren’t just for business professionals. Numbers also help with showcasing your accomplishments, and that must be highlighted. The most convincing accomplishments are measurable and help your CV/resume outshine others. How many cases did you manage? How much money did you receive from a charity to support a person? How many people did you supervise?.
When you can quantify, it makes your accomplishments more attractive to potential employers. If you are newly qualified, how many people did you support while on placement? Did you manage people in your previous job? If so, how many? Did you lead a project to meet domain 9 (leadership) of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF)?
DO NOT WRITE: I applied for grants to support a person
WRITE: Applied and received a £500 grant from the Red Cross Society for a person I was supporting in the community. This was used to support rehousing and prevented a family of 5 from being homeless.
Tip 10: Be Transparent
Do not hide gaps in your work experience. Be transparent, thorough and honest by making dates, months and not just the year. Subconsciously, it can make the employer feel you are hiding something. If there are gaps, just be prepared to answer why in your interview.
Tip 11: Keep It Simple Strategy (KISS)
Does it sound like you are talking to your grandmother? If yes, then that is an excellent sign. You want to explain your job experience in a similar way to how you would do when explaining it to your grandmother. You do not want to use acronyms and jargons that would make the employer look around for their dictionary. If you have worked on a project that you are proud of, describe your role and what you achieved. There is no need to name the different teams involved in the project or discuss the titles of the people you dealt with. Provide a simple, precise and clear vision of what you have done.
Tip 12: Have References Separate
If you have written the following statement on your CV/resume “references available on request”, then this is for you! It is irrelevant to tell your reader you have references. If you get far enough in the interview process, they will ask you for your references.
Don’t put your references on your resume. This not only takes up space, and it will not influence the employer’s decisions to invite you for an interview. Have them listed in a separate document. In addition, have your references ready just in case your prospective employer asked for it. The last thing you will want is to make them wait while you try to put together a reliable list in the interview room!
DO NOT WRITE: References Available Upon Request
WRITE: (Separate document with your contact information at the top) References:
Sally West, MSW, PE, Head of Adult Services. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally was my direct line manager and is familiar with my social work skills, my ability to work with diverse communities, and my ability to form professional relationships with colleagues and other agencies. Sally recognised my success in person-centred practice and put me forward to support a newly qualified social worker within the team.
Tip 13: Identify Both Soft and Hard Skills
Employers like to see what you can offer when it comes to your skills. This helps them see if you are a solid fit for the company culture and if you have the fundamental aspects to thrive in the role. So, adding in key skills, especially the ones they want to see based on the job description, is recommended. Some examples include:
- Soft Skills: teamwork, creativity, organization, problem-solving, critical thinking, flexibility, detail oriented
- Hard Skills: computer software applications, data analysis, management, administrative, foreign languages
There are thousands of people just like you who are pursuing a career in Social Work or looking to move on to new opportunities within this field. Although the job market is competitive, the demand for Social Workers is continuously rising. It also means that you must make your resume stand out from other resumes.
With that being said, try these tips mentioned above when you get ready to construct your Social Work resume so you can be confident it is the best it can be to make a lasting statement amongst employers. Remember, less is more, and the world needs more advocates like you to support and enrich the lives of others’ lives. It all starts with getting your foot in the door!
If you have a tip to make an outstanding CV, kindly comment below
13 Best Tips for Writing an Outstanding CV/Resume
- Keep Your Profile or Summary Informative but Short and Sweet
- Easy to Read Format
- Use Bullets at All Times
- Avoid Acronyms
- Mirror Your Experience to the Job You are Applying For
- Note Keywords in the Job Description
- Match Your Qualifications
- Put Your Most Important Qualifications and Achievements First
- Quantify Your Achievements Where Possible
- Be Transparent
- Keep It Simple Strategy (KISS)
- Have References Separate
- Identify Both Soft and Hard Skills
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