Writing an Effective Social Work Resume Skills Section

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Social workers possess a range of different skills they use to help people cope with personal issues or mitigate the effect of negative scenarios. When looking to fill a social work position, organizations usually consider candidates who can demonstrate that they have good social work skills on their resumes. Knowing how to highlight your social work skills on your resume can increase your chances of getting job offers.

In this article, we discuss why the social work resume skills section matters, determine what social workers do, review some skills to include on your resume, and give two examples of resumes to help you create your own.

Why does the social work resume skills section matter?

If you're looking for a social work position, it's essential to highlight your social work resume skills section, as this segment can describe your skill set and proficiency in the field. The skills section on any kind of resume is important, but it's particularly significant for social workers because their job is highly interpersonal and requires a powerful set of soft skills. These are skills such as compassion, impartiality, empathy, and the ability to deescalate potentially fraught situations.

Effective social workers apply the best practices and techniques of their trade. You can learn about these techniques and practices in social work education courses and through on-the-job training. When writing a social work resume, it's beneficial to include skills that illustrate your industry knowledge, ethics, and empathy.

Read more: Skills of a Successful Social Worker

What does a social worker do?

Social workers support the mental and emotional health and physical welfare of children, families, and vulnerable people. They counsel their clients, teach them coping skills, and advocate for them and their families. Social workers are typically good problem-solvers and they can identify or diagnose behavioural and emotional disorders. These professionals often manage large caseloads and they're responsible for developing and implementing care plans for their clients. They can also conduct social research and help organizations develop legislation in their area of expertise.

Read more: Social Service Worker vs. Social Worker: What's the Difference?

Social worker skills to include on your resume

Recruiters and hiring managers usually check social workers' resumes to see if they possess the following skills:

Crisis intervention skills

Social workers are often the first professional responders when a family or individual is having an emotional or mental crisis. Your ability to make assessments, ease stressful situations, and offer solutions is vital for managing such cases. The first task social workers often do is assess the immediate safety of everybody involved, and then they work to deescalate the situation so nobody harms themselves or others. The ability to build rapport with people, even when they're intense emotional states, is very valuable in those types of situations.

Being able to identify the cause of a crisis and the causes of potential future emergencies is also vital. Using solution-oriented and understanding language is also helpful. Social workers help their clients cope with stressful situations and it's important that they suggest and teach these coping skills with confidence, so their clients believe in the efficacy of these practices. Crisis management is also a valuable skill and social workers design plans to manage crises and follow up with the person or family in the hours, days, and weeks after the crisis.

Empathy and communication skills

Empathy is the ability to understand and share others' feelings. Being able to understand everybody's feelings and concerns is key, as you might require to communicate with people with different behaviours, emotional states, and backgrounds. Social workers can also communicate with advocacy groups, schools, and social service coordinators. As a job candidate, you might inform hiring managers that you can listen actively to people's worries and comfort them during a stressful situation.

Being able to give gentle feedback is important as well because not all the information you give to clients is necessarily what they want to hear. Communicating such information in a non-accusatory way can be crucial. If you think you can make keen emotional observations, this is something you highlight on your resume, because this can be a big asset to a social worker. These professionals are usually able to offer compassionate counselling.

Related: What to Include in a Social Work Resume (With Template)

Professional skills

Professional skills are career-specific aptitudes. In social work, these skills reflect your professionalism and your industry knowledge. Some key professional skills to mention on your resume include keeping diligent records, maintaining impartiality, and any continuing education and training you've undergone. Hiring managers also look to hire social workers who can set and sustain healthy client boundaries and prioritize client needs. Being able to maintain ethical principles in advocacy is also critical.

How to format your resume to highlight your skills

It's important to find the format that best highlights your skills. Here are some steps you can follow to format your social work resume:

1. Optimize your resume objective

A resume objective is a short introductory statement that briefly explains your experience and career goals. You can optimize this statement by discussing your social work skills. For instance, instead of stating that you have a certain number of years of experience in a role, you can include some skills you learned or used in that role.

2. Choose your words wisely

Emphasize your social work skills by choosing strong, commanding language that gets the reader's attention. To increase the prominence of the skills section of your resume, use action verbs that highlight your unique abilities. For example, talking about how you want to share your passion for child advocacy can be more impactful than merely mentioning that you have a passion for child advocacy.

3. Customize your resume to the position

A good resume addresses directly the company or organization that is offering the job position. It's beneficial to research the organization to which you're applying to understand the exact skills and attributes of its ideal candidate. By customizing your skills section, you can reflect the qualities you have that match the employer's requirements.

Related: Interviewing Skills for Social Work (With Tips)

Example resumes that highlight social work skills

How you format your skills depends on what skills you have and your experience level. Here are two example resumes that highlight the skills and abilities of social workers with different experience levels:

Example resume of a registered social worker

Here's an example resume of a registered social worker with a significant amount of experience:

Delphine Tran
Kitchener, ON
d.tran@email.com
555-555-5555

Resume objective

I'm a registered social worker with over 13 years of clinical experience in child advocacy and youth intervention services. I want to share my skill and knowledge in crisis management, de-escalation, and rapport building.

Experience

Social worker and at-risk youth specialist
Armstrong's Family Counselling Facility, London, ON, October 2012–January 2022

  • Organized outreach programs in Southwest Ontario

  • Lead teacher demonstrations and seminars for London high schools and middle schools

  • Sustained a caseload of 11-14 families each year

  • Provided emotional support and cognitive behavioural therapy to children considered at-risk by their school counsellors and teachers

Social worker
Youth and family services, Kitchener, ON, November 2008–June 2012

  • Conducted home inspections

  • Provided reintegration counselling for families and children

  • Drafted care plans for children in foster care

  • Counselled children who needed social services in 1-on-1 sessions

  • Wrote detailed reports for legal purposes

Education

Masters of Social Work and Clinical Psychology
Galt University, Cambridge, ON, 2005

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
Prairie University, Saskatoon, SK, 2004

Skills and qualities

  • Strong de-escalation skills even when working with individuals in heightened emotional states

  • Expertise in drafting crisis management plans

  • Knowledgeable and expert rapport-building

  • Ability to maintain impartiality

  • Faithful adherence to ethical procedures in child advocacy

  • Meticulous note-taking and record-keeping

Read more: Cover Letter for Social Worker (With Templates and Samples)

Example social work resume for a recent graduate

Here is an example of a registered social worker without work experience:

Kanwar Singh
Halifax, NS
sing.kanwar@email.edu
(123) 456-7890

Resume objective

I'm a registered social worker and a recent graduate of Sackville University. I aim to secure a long-term position as a social worker in which I can use the child advocacy and crisis identification skills I learned over the course of my internship and educational career.

Volunteer history

  • Serving as a child mentor at Charity Outreach Nova Scotia, July 2021–Present

  • Served as a peer student counsellor, Sackville University Student Centre, January 2019–May 2021

Education

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Sackville University, Halifax, NS, 2016–2021

Experience

Social worker intern
Youth and Family Protective Services, Halifax, NS, November 2020—April 2021

  • Provided one-on-one counselling for children in foster care

  • Assisted with in-home inspections

  • Performed intake and wellness forms for families and children receiving social services

  • Assisted office staff with record-keeping, organization, and prioritizing cases

  • Contacted teachers and school counsellors regarding their students' needs

Skills and characteristics

  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

  • Natural rapport-building ability with children

  • Ability to de-escalate emotional situations

  • Diligent note-taking and record-keeping

  • Strong passion for and knowledge of child advocacy best practices


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