School social work presents challenges. You witness stress daily, but play a critical role in educational settings and help parents and teachers overcome enormous problems.
Happily, job prospects look good. The US Department of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow 13% between 2019 and 2029. But you need a solid resume to get a job.
We have developed a full resume sample to guide you in your employment quest.
Resume objective for school social work
Even though the job opportunities for school social workers are on the increase, the requirements for suitable candidates are specific and strict.
School social workers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and certification/licensing may be required. Personality requirements and soft skills often differentiate better candidates from run-of-the-mill.
You might not be run-of-the-mill, but unless you grab the attention of a potential employer reading your resume, you might not even make it to a job interview to prove that you are, in fact, a top-quality candidate.
The recruitment company, Indeed, is categorical that a resume objective will show hiring managers that you have the education and training to succeed as a social worker. It should, they say, show that you have the necessary traits like empathy and a desire to better other peoples lives.
Their advice when writing a resume objective for a social work objective is to be concise, to show your worth, get noticed, and explain how you will benefit the employer.
You need to get noticed, and the resume objective is a good way to achieve this. List your strengths first and share your ambitions.
Also, be sure to tailor your objective to the job you want.
Experienced, empathetic school social worker with a master’s degree and five years of experience. Communication, listening, and problem-solving skills. Passionate about improving the lives of families.
Resume skills for school social work
While many skills can be learned, school social workers rely on intuitive soft skills. These include core listening skills, teamwork, strong communication, self-caring and the ability to cope with pressure, and self-awareness.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are vital as is the ability to solve problems. Time management and organizational skills are also critically important.
But, as Valerie Arendt, who has an MSW and represents the North Carolina Chapter of the NASW, points out, for social workers, these become hard skills. Essentially, in this profession, hard skills include specific knowledge and abilities that can be quantified.
If you are applying for the job via an online applicant tracking system (ATS), meeting specific skills requirements usually makes all the difference. You also need to include certain vital keywords that will get picked up during the tracking process.
It is even more important if you are transferring between practice areas, perhaps from child welfare to school social work.
Transferable skills include interviewing skills, assessment, care planning, the ability to manage cases and cope with workloads, and leadership and management skills.
Programmatic skills like writing reports, fundraising, and program development are more obvious hard skills, as are technology skills.
Communication | Interpersonal | Problem-solving | Organizational | Active listening | Emotional intelligence | Critical thinking | Empathy | Inner strength | Microsoft Office | Video therapy software | Social media
School social work, work experience
Although not all schools employ social workers, they play a vital role in educational settings.
While the focus of their work is varied, it usually involves case management, clinical social work, and working with children, youth, and families. They often help teachers with behavior management and identify and report child abuse and neglect.
Sometimes school social workers are hired by school districts to support students with behavior or mental health issues.
When you compile the work experience section of your resume, focus on any previous school jobs you have had in schools, but also include any other social work jobs you have had.
We surveyed dozens of sample resumes and noticed that other positions were often mentioned. These included working with children and families, jobs that involved dealing with mental health and substance abuse, and even positions in a healthcare environment.
Students who do master’s degrees usually complete an internship, practicum, or a fellowship as part of the degree. All of these require working in the field, which adds to work experience in a resume. Don’t leave this out unless you have substantial experience as a school social worker – particularly if you have been an intern in a school setting.
Sample Work Experience
St Mary’s Center for Children
School Social Worker, 2017 – 2020
Provided direct treatment services to children with emotional disabilities. Worked closely with the families and the treatment team and acted as the liaison person between home and school.
- Provided group therapy and group skills development counseling to children aged between 5 and 13.
- Won the School Social Work Association of America’s (SSWAA) Children’s Champion Award 2018.
- Undertook to get my C-SSWS as part of the job requirements, which I did.
- Completed 48 hours of continuing education in 2019 to renew my school social work certification.
ABC Learning Centers
School Social Worker, 2014 – 2017
Responsible for helping students achieve academically, emotionally, and socially by collaboration with educators and through counseling. Played an active and productive role in the learning center team.
- Undertook hundreds of home visits to assist parents and students.
- Initiated action that resulted in a decrease of more than 20% of child abuse-related cases.
- Functioned as a role model for communication and problem-solving with staff.
- Introduced consultation services for staff members.
Social Work Intern, 2013
Involved with crisis intervention in a supportive role with young people exposed to gangsterism and drug and alcohol abuse. Collaborated with school staff and other service providers.
- Obtained proper clearance by the State, the FBI, and Child Line.
- Attended cultural diversity training courses during the internship.
- Successfully utilized cross-system designs.
- Commended for my ability to establish a rapport with youth.
School social work education
Social workers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), but their responsibilities may be limited. Clinical social workers must qualify with a master’s degree and have a license so that they can diagnose physical and mental health issues.
Most US states require school social workers to have a license to operate. Even if you don’t, not having a license can make it more difficult to get a job. Most states also insist on social workers graduating from universities and colleges that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
According to SocialWorkLIcensure.org, most licenses require candidates to have a master of social science degree. As a result, most school social workers hold a master’s degree.
BSW programs usually take four years to complete, and if graduates attend full-time master’s programs, these take a further two years. Part-time programs are available, but they take longer to complete.
CSWE-accredited MSW programs are available online.
The University of New England / UNE Online
MSW, 2018 – 2019
- Advanced Standing Track completed in less than two years
School of Social Work, University of Georgia
BSW, 2014 – 2017
While BSW and MSW programs cover everything a school social worker needs to know, there are a number of common core courses intended for undergraduates that social workers can take if they feel any area of their education and training requires a boost.
Stephanie Bosco-Ruggiero, who holds a master’s degree and is studying a PhD at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Science, is the founder of the Social Work Degree Center which lists useful resources and online courses for social work students and social workers.
Some of the courses she lists are for beginners while others are more advanced. All of them are free.
Study.com has a course that provides a detailed overview of social psychology as well as topics like ethical practice, attitudes and persuasion, research methods, and prejudice and discrimination.
Columbia University offers a course that provides invaluable insights into social services for families, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Yale University has a course that helps social workers prepare to become addiction therapists.
Harvard University has a course on edX that focuses on the failures of child protection.
The Open University offers an advanced course that teaches more about critical social work practice.
- Social psychology (Study.com)
- Addiction Treatment: Clinical Skills for Healthcare Providers (Yale University)
- Social work: Research (University of Michigan)
- Social Welfare Policy and Services (University of Michigan)
The CSWE is recognized by the US Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for social work education. Even though states have slightly different rules for licensure, only social workers who have attended CSWE-accredited schools are eligible.
A master’s degree in social work qualifies social workers to apply to become a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW).
According to the University of South Carolina’s School of Social Work, the LMSW is the highest level of licensure for clinical social workers, although it is called different things in some states, including a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
Many school social work jobs demand certification. Certifications, which are available via the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), bolster any social work education and verify experience, giving you a better chance of getting the job you are chasing.
NASW members with an MSW qualify for the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) credential and the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW).
Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials are available to all qualified social workers, mostly those with an MSW.
A Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS) requires an MSW. The certification must be renewed every two years.
Complete school social work resume sample
We sampled numerous school social work resumes and considered multiple job posts before deciding to use this one for a complete resume sample.
The job being advertised is for a school social worker in the Oxford Public Schools’ Special Education Department. We are going to use this to help you write a resume tailored to apply for this job.
The job is for a social worker who will provide support to both special education and regular education students. The aim is to help provide them with strong social and emotional skills.
Additionally, duties include responding to crises and providing prevention and intervention measures when necessary.
Even though the ad states that only a bachelor’s degree is required, applicants must have a master’s degree in social work or counseling to qualify for a school social work license in Massachusetts.
Certification is not specified, but as discussed, it would be good to be able to add a reference to a C-SSWS.
School Social Work
Experienced school social worker with five years of experience in a Massachusetts school. Empathetic and supportive with a strong drive to help others. Master’s degree and professional certification.
Excellent communication | Effective working relationships | Time management | Team player | Critical thinking | Inner strength | Networking | Excels at collecting, interpreting, and synthesizing information
Sharon Public Schools
School Social Worker, 2016 – 2020
Acted as a liaison person between school, home, and the community to provide prevention, intervention, assessment, and support services to students identified as at-risk or with special education IEPs.
- Conducted home visits and proved I had the ability to deal with confidential and sensitive information in a professional manner.
- Undertook hundreds of special education evaluations that included social development assessment.
- Provided peer support for special and general education teachers, school counselors, and psychologists.
- Awarded School Social Worker of the Year in 2018.
- Licensed School Social Worker, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Boston University School of Social Work
Master of Social Work, 2013 – 2015 (2.5 years)
- Majored in Special Education
Westfield State University
BSW, 2009 – 2012
- Sat for the state’s social work licensure exam (LSW) in 2012
- Addiction Treatment: Clinical Skills for Healthcare Providers (Online – Yale University)
School social workers are highly qualified professionals, which is why it is so important to highlight your qualifications, skills, and experience in your resume.
- You can work as a social worker if you have a bachelor’s degree, but you also need to be licensed in the state where you work, and most states require school social workers to have a master’s degree.
- Soft skills are vital for school social workers, but don’t forget to mention hard programmatic skills like the ability to write reports and use computer technology when required. Transferable skills including management and leadership are also very important.
- You don’t have to include a resume objective, but because you are dealing with people and playing a critical role within the education system, it’s an excellent place to get your skills and abilities noticed. Those three or four lines at the top of your resume could clinch the job for you.
Tips from Experts
“I often see résumés of social workers who have a skills section and list soft skills with no supporting information, for example: Listening skills, Organized, Flexible, Teamwork, Patience, etc. To a hiring manager, these are just empty words on a page if there is no information to convey how you might actually possess these skills.” – Valerie Arendt, MSW/MPP
“Your social work resume is about the future NOT the past. Where do you want to land? If you don’t know where you are headed then you MUST spend more time on Strategy #1 (Know thyself)! Your resume will lack focus if you lack focus. Don’t just tell the employer who you WERE – tell them why your previous roles or functions prepared you for this next step – your future job! If you are changing careers, focus on the high-level transferable skills that you learned in a previous role that you can apply to this new field. Example: Account Manager to Social Worker.” – Career Development Center, Loyola University, Chicago
“Social Workers are not just nice people with good hearts. Social workers are educated professionals who go through accredited university programs that are grounded in a rigorous research base.” – Dr. Anna Scheyett, Dean of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina
Employment opportunities for school social workers are growing, but so are the demands for qualifications and experience in the industry.
When you apply for a job as a school social worker you will need to focus on your skills and abilities and make sure they are as close as possible to the requirements of the job.
This article has lots of tips that should help you craft a winning resume. Use the information for inspiration and spend the time required to develop a document that will show you in the best possible light.