If you’re applying for a role in social work, you need to make a good first impression. Being a social worker is hard work, but also extremely worthwhile. So, what can you do to make sure your application is a certainty for the short list?
If you need some inspiration on what to include in your CV and cover letter, check out our handy examples. (Just remember not to copy them as exact templates.)
Cover letter example:
Dear Ms Name,
As a fully qualified [child/adult] social worker with [number] years experience, I feel I would be well-suited for the role of [job title] at [name of council or organisation]. Please find my CV attached.
The nature of my experience includes successfully managing a demanding caseload, which includes [elderly people/young children/people who have learning disabilities /mental health issues]. I have a [person-centred] approach to my work, which involves calmly and practically responding to service users to achieve the best outcomes. I am also experienced in coordinating care with other agencies, such as primary care practices and psychological services.
In addition, I have a particular interest in [...]. This stimulated me to lead a community project on [...]. As part of this, I had to liaise with [...] meaning that I have developed skills in [...]. I faced some challenges along the way, such as [...] and overcame them by [...]. The impact of the project overall was measured by/ has been evidenced in [...].
As shown by my experience in [social work/social work placements], I am enthusiastic about establishing what is best for the individual and always strive to do the best for service users. I am able to successfully manage a demanding caseload. I also have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of this role.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in future.
CV and cover letter tips:
“The most important thing about your CV and cover letter is that everything you include is relevant,” says Craig Davis, head of social work for Sanctuary. “Don’t start going off on a tangent, or waffling – every part has to be tailored to the role you’re applying for.”
Tom Hawkins, director of Hays Social Care, adds that you should keep your cover letter short. “Don’t over-elaborate, and don’t repeat what’s on your CV. The key things you need to include are: the reason you’re applying, the reason you want to move on from your current employment, and the things that you have in your armoury that make you suitable for the job.”
As social work is a vocational profession, it’s also important that you evidence enthusiasm for the job. “Don’t be scared to sound passionate about what you do – why you do it and why you enjoy it,” he adds.
In your CV it’s also worth including any information that the hiring manager might need as a “tick box” exercise in the application process: such as whether you have an up-to-date DBS check, or registration with relevant social work bodies.
“Be as clear as you can in your writing,” says Hawkins. “So use bullet points to describe roles, rather than long and prosaic sentences. Try and start each bullet point with a verb, such as ‘created, managed, improved’ – this is a good way to focus info on what you did and the difference it made.”
As much as experience is important, it’s not the only thing hiring managers are looking for. “Some managers will look at someone who has less experience but is more enthusiastic – so be sure to get your passion for the work across in your writing,” adds Davis.
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Sample Social Work Personal Statement
I would like to study Social Work at degree level as it is an area of great interest and personal significance to me. Having gained experience in this sphere and a strong desire to learn more about it, I feel I would be well suited to such a course.
For some time, my aim has been to become a social worker, and I have worked hard returning to education to make it a possibility. I would very much like to work in a field that involves helping and caring for others, a wish that has partly been shaped by a number of events in my life. motivation stems from bringing up a son with dyslexia and learning difficulties. At first the help provided by school was inadequate and led me to undertake research of my own into child development and the various forms of social assistance available. Experiences in life have undoubtedly increased my empathetic qualities, invaluable to becoming a good social worker.
However, my interest in social care is not merely personal. I take an academic curiosity in the theoretical foundations of the discipline, and find my current Access to Higher Education studies extremely rewarding. Psychology is particularly stimulating, whilst I have enjoyed learning about research methods in Sociology and the Victorian Era in History, especially regarding the origins of social welfare. I also like to keep up to date with current issues affecting social work through reading newspapers. With a mind that is open to different opinions, lively debates and discussions are enthusiastically anticipated in university seminars. Specific topics I look forward to studying include child protection, drug dependency and the role of communication in social work.
My experience gained from voluntary social work is considerable. I am currently involved in Parent Partnership – this consists of working alongside parents and carers of children with special educational needs and encouraging partnership with other agencies that support children. It has taught me about the values of cooperation and good organisation, and given me a taste of being in a position of responsibility. Previously, I have also raised money for Cancer Research and volunteered for Meals on Wheels. These activities have led to me coming into contact with numerous people in the social profession and enhanced my knowledge and understanding of social work.
Previous jobs have honed important skills that make me suitable for this course; in particular, my work as a sales manager required perseverance, the use of diplomacy during team quarrels and the ability to work under pressure towards deadlines, all assets I can put to use at university – for example, working towards group presentations – and beyond. The combination of my maturity developed through work, and discipline and determination through studying at NVQ and Access to Higher Education level, would allow me to become a well-rounded student.
I hold a wide range of interests and hobbies. Although one of my preferred past-times is reading novels, I am also a sociable, outgoing person and would like to contribute to university life through involvement in extra-curricular volunteering activities. I aim to actively integrate myself into the student community, and look forward to entering a new environment from which I can learn substantially.
I hope the preceding points illustrate my capabilities. I am aptly motivated and strongly committed to both the subject and the level of study. With a variety of relevant experience, a well-balanced personality and work ethic, and, most importantly, the drive to pursue a career in helping others, I have the potential to be an excellent student of Social Work.
We hope you found this Social Work personal statement valuable.