Writing Your Social Work CV
Whether you’re applying for a job or registering with an agency, the process begins with your curriculum vitae, or CV. Your CV provides a snapshot of who you are, your knowledge, your skills and your experience. It’s your opportunity to make a first impression with managers and recruiters and your first step towards securing your next job, so it’s very important to ensure it’s well-written.
Here are some practical tips and suggestions to help you write a great social work CV.
Content for social work cv
Firstly, let’s look at the information you should include.
A CV should include the following basic information – your name, contact details (including postal address, email address and contact telephone numbers), qualifications and professional registration number (e.g SWE, SCW).
Check carefully that these details are correct so employers and agencies can get in touch easily, and so they can check your registration to confirm you are a social worker.
Qualifications & Training
You must include your qualifications to demonstrate you are qualified to practice social work. List them in chronological order starting with the most recent, showing the dates, title of the course, where you studied and the qualification gained. Don’t leave anything out – include any post-qualifying awards and additional training courses.
Previous Work Experience
List your work experience in chronological order, stating your employer, job title and the dates you worked there. Explain your duties, responsibilities and any significant achievements in that time. Give details about the types of cases you’ve dealt with, assessments you completed, and practical skills you developed.
Remember that your CV is selling you. Don’t assume the recruiter or hiring manager knows exactly what was involved in each of your previous roles. Being explicit about your experience can help you stand out from other social workers.
Showing your background and additional skills can make the difference between yourself and another applicant. Explaining what you did before you qualified as a social worker gives valuable colour to your CV, especially if your background involved working in health or care. Similarly, highlighting your additional skills and qualifications – such as NVQs in health or IT – shows you have other transferrable skills.
Cover Any Gaps
Thorough vetting is an incredibly important part of the social work recruitment process, and employers or agencies will need to investigate any gaps in your CV or work experience. If you have taken an extended period of leave between roles, been unemployed for a period of time, or been a stay-at-home parent, for example, there will be a gap in your work history.
Make sure you cover this clearly, as you may be expected to provide evidence explaining this gap at a later date.
An excellent CV can be let down by poor presentation. Follow these simple rules to avoid this:
The ideal CV should be two to three pages long. If you are an experienced social worker, it may be difficult to condense your work history to fit this. If that is the case, make sure you cover your full work history, but be as concise as possible with your less recent positions.
Large blocks of text can be difficult to read and digest. To make your CV as easy as possible to interpret, break it into clear sections with headers to cover your introduction, qualifications, work history and references. A well set out CV gives off a good impression, and is much easier for the hiring manager to read.
Use a simple, clear font. Avoid using ornate or ‘fun’ fonts, as this can make information difficult to read and does not look professional. Good fonts to use include Calibri, Times New Roman or Arial, in sizes 11-14. Do not make your font smaller so your CV fits onto three pages – this will make it difficult to read. Similarly, larger font sizes take up more space on your CV than is necessary.
Your CV should be formatted in a professional, consistent manner. Use bold text to highlight important information such as your job titles and employer, and underline headers for added emphasis.
Avoid using textboxes, over-complicated formatting, and multiple colours. Your formatting should help explain your skills, qualifications and work history, not distract from them.
Here are some final tips to help you write the best CV possible:
Check all of your dates are correct, that all your qualifications and jobs are included and check all spelling and grammar. Proofread your CV carefully yourself and ask a friend or family member to read it, checking for errors.
Tailor your CV Depending on the Post
Different jobs with different employers will have different requirements, job duties and expectations of the person, so don’t just have one generic CV that you send to all roles. Small changes can emphasise specific experience that is relevant to the role, and help you stand out.
If you’re applying for a frontline post, your CV should show you can handle high-pressure, service user-facing roles. If you’re applying for a managerial role, highlight leadership qualities you displayed during previous posts. If you’re applying for a specialist post, show how you have experience in that field.
Use Your Recruitment Consultant
Your recruitment consultant can advise and help you with your CV. At Liquid Personnel, our consultants are social work specialists; they have a great understanding of what managers are looking for, and can offer insight and advice to improve your CV and give you the best chance of securing your ideal role.