Job Search Strategies
for social work jobs
There are two ways to approach any job search:
ONE: The more passive route is to simply look for job openings on the Web and in the newspaper classifieds. Do people find jobs this way? All the time. Do those jobs meet most of their career needs and bring them satisfaction? Not as often as they would like.
TWO: Rather than passively responding to ads as they appear, you identify organizations you would like to work for and then contact them directly.
To effectively employ this strategy, you will need to follow these steps:
- What type of work do you want to be doing? Case management? Therapy? School social work? Medical social work? Advocacy or community organizing? Program administration or management? Other work?
- What types of clientele would you most like to work with? Children and families? Youth? The elderly? Addicts? The homeless? AIDS patients? Others?
- What are the qualities or experiences that you most want in your work environment? Several MSW's we've spoken with said that what they valued most in their first post-graduation job was the quality of the supervision they received. Others may seek a culturally diverse workplace, have a preference for a large organization over a small one or seek opportunities to move into a management role. For some people, salary requirements may become the most important factor.
- What are your greatest strengths - your skills, your experience, your personal qualities? Click here for more on this type of self-assessment.
- NEED HELP? Career counseling and job search assistance is available for BC students and alumni.
2. IDENTIFYING EMPLOYERS THAT MEET YOUR NEEDS
There are 2 ways to go about this:
- DATABASES AND DIRECTORIES - use print and Web resources to identify agencies that provide particular services or serve particular clients. While this may provide you with a list of appropriate agencies and organizations, it cannot answer certain questions, such as the quality of the supervision or the culture of the organization.
Click here for a list of human service agency directories available on the Web and at libraries on the BC campus.
- NETWORKING - Networking contacts may share information about particularly good employers or job openings that you might otherwise not hear about.
Speaking with other MSW's or counselors already working in the field may also give you the inside scoop on organizations and answer your questions about the quality of supervision, the nature of the organization, the type of people you would be working with and for, etc.
3. FURTHER RESEARCH ON YOUR POTENTIAL EMPLOYERS
- EMPLOYER WEB SITE: Use Google.com to find the organization's Web site. What does their site say about how the organization conducts its business?
- NEWS ARTICLES: Have any articles been written about this organization?
Click here for our nonprofit research links. (BC students should look for the Lexis/Nexis link, in particular.)
- BC ALUMNI: Are there any BC alumni working there? If not, are there any BC alumni who might have the inside scoop on this organization? Look in the following categories: Human Services; Psych/Therapy/Mental Health; Nonprofit Organizations; Social Work.
4. APPLYING TO YOUR TARGETED EMPLOYERS
- Because turnover in the social services can be quite high, sending out unsolicited resumes and making phone calls to employers can often be quite effective.
- Mailing your resume and a targeted cover letter to a number of organizations at once can bring quick results.
- If you have the names of several managers at an agency, there is no harm in sending your application materials to more than one of them.
- Click here for advice on increasing your chances of landing an interview through a direct mail campaign.
JOB LISTINGS ON THE WEB
- Some good Web links do exist for social work and counseling jobs. Once you've thought carefully about the types of organizations that you would like to work for, use our links to find current job listings.
Social Workers - Job Outlook
Detailed U.S. government forecast of which areas of social work will see job growth or decline over the next few years.
Careers in Social Work Quiz
An entertaining way to educate yourself about job search strategies and possible career paths.
Complete list of books and Web sites related to social work careers, provided by the Boston College Social Work Library.
Preparing for the Social Work Boards
Books and links to help you prepare for the boards, provided by the Boston College Social Work Library.