People who work in the social service industry tend to enjoy giving back to their community. They may work as counselors, behavioral technicians, volunteers, and in many other jobs. In 2021, there is a high demand for people to work in social service, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. The isolation experienced through lockdown intensified depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges social workers can support through psychotherapy or other counseling services. Social workers can also help employees find work-life balance and cope with all sorts of crises. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 13% increase of 90,700 new jobs between 2018-2029.
If you’re interested in or are already in the social service industry and want some help developing your resume, we recommend you check out the rest of this page.
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Social Service Job Titles
- Case Manager
- Community Support Worker
- Director Of Government Relations
- Human Service Worker
- Mental Health Counselor
- Program Coordinator
- Youth Worker
Social Services Cover Letter Examples
Current trends impacting social service jobs
Social work is a rapidly evolving industry often influenced by changing trends and growing societal needs. For example, in Conceptualization of International Social Work Education, University of Pennsylvania Professor Richard J. Estes says, “the new wave of technological innovations, coupled with global interdependence between and among individuals, groups, and nations,” has had a “tremendous effect on social work education and practice throughout the world.” Other effects, such as the rise of migration and poverty, force social service workers to consistently play a vital role in the welfare of many different people, including dealing with depression, anxiety, and addiction.
The pandemic is only the latest event that has highlighted the importance of social work. For example, the 2007 economic recession caused stress related to job loss, leading many to seek behavioral health services. In addition, the massacres at Columbine High School in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007 propelled school violence and bullying as a topic to worry about in the minds of many Americans.
Emerging technologies have also made social workers’ services more accessible and affordable. For example, many companies hire social workers to provide online support to individuals in need, such as Sanvello, AbleTo, and DotCom Therapy. Modern technologies also make it easier to connect with students, particularly those in rural locations who otherwise cannot access social work programs.
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Full-time social service jobs
Clinical social workers, hospice or palliative care workers, case managers, and counselors are considered social workers. Each position may have different educational and certification requirements, as well as different experiential histories. Most jobs are in academic institutions, health care centers, or private businesses.
Job Outlook 2020–2028
From 2019 to 2029, the overall employment of social workers should rise by 13%, which is faster than the average for all occupations. However, the rate of increase in employment differs depending on the field of study.
In the next decade, the jobs forecast for case managers projects to grow by about 22%.
From 2019 to 2029, the job outlook of substance abuse, behavioral illness, and mental health counselors expects to rise by 25%, far faster than the national average of 14%. This increase is due to the growing number of individuals seeking addiction and mental health treatment.
Part-time social services jobs
Some of the jobs in this domain include volunteer social workers and behavior technicians. Social workers are professionals who try to improve people’s overall well-being and assist them in meeting their fundamental needs. They work with various individuals and populations, focusing on the vulnerable, oppressed, or those living in poverty. Behavior technicians are professionals who work in the field of applied behavioral analysis. They work with a wide range of clients, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning disabilities, maladaptive behavior, adjustment issues, aggression, and other issues.
Volunteers or behavior technicians can work in community development projects, nonprofit foundations, and educational institutions, among many other areas.
Job Outlook 2020–2029
Reports by the Corporation for National and Community Service say social service volunteers have 27% higher employment prospects when compared to people who have never volunteered. This is likely to continue throughout the 2020s.
From 2019 to 2029, the job outlook of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors expects to rise by 25%, far faster than the national average. This increase is from the growing number of individuals seeking addiction and mental health treatment due to many factors, including substance abuse of over-the-counter medications.
8 top skills needed for social service jobs
Social service work demands professionals have a blend of soft skills and hard skills to succeed. For example, excellent interpersonal communication, active listening, and empathy are soft skills in social service. On the other hand, basic computer knowledge, digital literacy, and emerging technologies abilities are examples of hard skills.
Social work professionals develop and hone these skills in professional settings. However, they should also make sure they abide by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) code of ethics and standards, which define the essential skills, values, and standards of professional conduct in their profession.
The NASW also defines standards for social work practice in health care settings and measures for clinical social work in social work practice. Some of the criteria are related to specialized practice skills and intervention and proper ethics and values.
We’ve highlighted eight essential skills for people working in the social service industry below. You will get employers’ attention if you can add at least three of the following to your resume:
Excellent interpersonal communicationIrrespective of your job title, excellent interpersonal communication skills are indispensable if you want to excel in social service. Confident and persuasive communication lies at the heart of social work practice. It allows social workers to learn about clients’ and fellow professionals’ thoughts and feelings, interpret complex scenarios, negotiate, mediate, and intervene sympathetically and appropriately.
In addition, effective communication allows social workers to establish a bond of mutual trust, appreciation, and respect with clients, superiors, and coworkers. The Macmillan social work toolkit has a collection of resources to help social workers enhance their communication skills.
Active listening and decision makingActive listening means listening with the intent to understand and paying attention to details. Social workers must always follow a non-judgemental approach when listening to client concerns.
According to Biestek’s Principles of Social Casework, “The non-judgmental attitude is based on the belief that social work does not include assigning guilt or innocence. If the client fears blame and judgment, he will not talk about himself. Not only blame, but also praise and approval are examples of a judgmental attitude. Blame and praise may have the same effect on a client: to hide a part of himself so as not to be judged.”
Therefore, social workers should remain engaged in conversations without passing judgments to make the clients feel comfortable, understood and, most importantly, to help build a therapeutic alliance that will benefit people in the short term and develops a pathway to long-term health.
Cross-cultural competenceCross-cultural competence enables social workers to become more attuned and receptive to people from different backgrounds or cultures. For example, social workers might come across unexpected ideas, beliefs, or unfamiliar customs.
Through extensive research and multiple interactions, one can build knowledge and awareness about diverse values, ideologies, practices, and social conditions. To know more about the beliefs and values of other communities, social workers should first assess their cultural histories and identities. A self-assessment enables them to become more conscious of their assumptions, values, preconceptions, and biases, directly or indirectly impacting client interactions and relationships.
Also, cross-cultural cross-competence will give more space to value and celebrate differences among individuals to promote comfort.
Record-keeping, documenting, and writing skillsSocial work professionals often have to deal with a repository of heavy documentation, paperwork, case records, and files for which effective data organization and record-keeping skills are crucial. For example, social workers may find it challenging to access the required information without effective data organization. In addition, having strong writing skills that include understanding grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure are beneficial to increase the quality of documentation.
Digital literacyExtracting valuable insights from large amounts of data and quickly navigating various case files and documents is part of the job. In addition, you need to update information on software applications, databases, and word editors and need to be up-to-date with the latest medical and legal tech tools. Not only that, but as a social worker, you need to be able to understand what all of your clients do online, such as interfacing with other people on social networks like Facebook and on comment threads like Twitter or Discus. Finally, remember that part of your job will be providing context to people to understand themselves and their world better, and you can’t do that if you don’t know what they deal with and where they deal with it.
Enrolling in paid or unpaid certificate courses on computing basics, which are widely accessible on e-learning sites such as Udemy and Coursera, can help to boost your digital skills.
Deep knowledge of socioeconomic issues, including food insecurity, mental health, racism, and povertySocial workers should understand socioeconomic issues. For example, knowledge of food insecurity issues allows social workers to help people who cannot afford nutritious food or live in areas that do not offer the same.
Knowledge of diverse mental health concerns allows social workers to provide appropriate therapy and counseling services to people suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, with proper knowledge of racism and inequality issues, social workers can raise awareness and help victims of unequal job opportunities and pay disparity due to gender or racial background.
Knowledge of Intervention strategiesProfessionals in social work must know various intervention strategies such as therapeutic care, counseling, in-home education, parental assistance programs appropriate to different situations and individuals, and arranging alternative living arrangements and shelters to protect children, women, and other individuals in abusive environments.
Case and care planningCase and care planning is developing a comprehensive plan for the client by considering their issues and specific requirements. Care planning also involves developing proper treatment or intervention plans that will adequately address a client’s needs. This skill is a must-have for all social workers.
Educational requirements for social service jobs
The social service sector has jobs with diverse educational expectations. People interested in becoming general social workers should obtain a bachelor of social work (BSW) or master of social work degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Whereas to practice as counselors, which is one type of social work and which has many different specialties, one needs to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, or an equivalent field from an institution accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). One can also continue their education by enrolling for a master’s or post-doctoral degree, as some jobs require them.
However, it is mandatory to have a master’s degree with a clinical concentration to volunteer in hospice or palliative care.
Upon completing their degree, social work students can further advance their careers by specializing in an area of interest by obtaining domain-specific certifications. Some of the popular certifications for social workers offered by member associations include Certified Children, Youth & Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW) and Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM) certification.
Social service resume examples by experience level
When creating the first draft of your resume, think about your career history, level of expertise, and unique skills. These will determine the appropriate resume format that matches your qualifications. Then, follow the instructions below to read tips on creating a resume based entirely on these parameters.
Social Service Resume Examples
2 tips to stand out and get the job you want
Write a cover letter that explains your profile.Writing a cover letter always helps to present yourself as a strong candidate over competitors. For one, you strategically convey your interest in the organization and what you can bring to the team. Second, cover letters present social service professionals with the specific opportunity to explain their passion for helping people using specific examples from their careers. Third, most people invariably make mistakes in their cover letters, and since you won’t be making any, you’ll be ahead of the game.
What do you need to do? First, don’t forget to proofread it, check it for inconsistencies, eliminate errors, and ensure it directly relates to the position you are applying to.
Prepare.Most candidates underestimate the need for preparation. However, just reading the job description and company profile is never sufficient. The job-getting project begins when you write a resume and doesn’t end until your last round of interviews. So do the following: Research the company culture, background, and values. Find out previously asked interview questions (there are many sites on the web that can help you find them), and if possible, get in touch with existing or former employees to know about the hiring culture and process. When reaching out, have strong and convincing reasons to justify your interest in working with the organization.
There is no harm in going the extra mile by taking online lessons or watching videos to ace the interview. Also, do not forget to be presentable with your sense of dress and demeanor.
4 easy steps to build an interview-winning social service resume
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How rewarding is a career in social service?
A career in social service allows you to work for the greater good. Extending your support and assistance for the welfare of others can bring you immense gratification. Your work will also inspire others to contribute by sharing their professional services and skills with those who need them the most.
What are the challenges of a career in social service?
Social service often entails working in challenging environments. Advocating for human rights, for instance, and dealing with complex, sometimes unending medical red tape can sometimes cause you direct or indirect stress. It might even leave you emotionally exhausted. Therefore, to successfully embark on a career in this field, people should have strong willpower and a brave spirit because there are no overnight successes.
Can I use the same resume for multiple job openings in social service?
No. Different social service jobs have different and diverse skill and educational requirements. Therefore, you should tailor your resume depending on each job description and its prerequisites. In addition, there are many ways you can adjust your resume, including through new keywords and by rewriting your experience based on its relevance to the applied position.
What is the best way to list my job experience?
Following the reverse chronological order, starting from your most recent experience to the first, is the best way to list your professional experience. But, of course, you also can’t forget to mention the job title and position you completed, company names and location, dates employed, your key responsibilities, and your most significant achievements.