Social Work Skills for a Resume (Examples & Tips)

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 29, 2024

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Working in social work is challenging and deeply rewarding, requiring a combination of empathy, resilience and dedication. Social workers engage with individuals, families and communities to address and overcome various issues such as poverty, abuse, addiction and mental health challenges. They provide essential support through counseling, advocacy, and connecting clients to necessary resources and services. This profession demands strong problem-solving skills, navigating complex systems, and a commitment to social justice.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in social work will grow 7% through 2032, with approximately 63,800 job openings per year expected over the next decade. You must have the right skills to stay ahead of the curve.

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What are social work skills?

Social work skills are comprehensive abilities that enable social workers to support, advocate for, and empower their clients effectively. These skills include soft skills, such as empathy, which allows social workers to connect with and understand the experiences of those they help, and interpersonal skills, which are essential for clearly conveying information and building relationships. Active listening is crucial for ensuring clients feel heard and understood, while problem-solving and critical thinking skills are necessary for identifying issues and developing practical solutions.

Examples of social work skills

Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner looking to refine your skill set or a newcomer eager to learn about the competencies vital to success in social work, our curated examples of top social worker skills offer valuable insights and inspiration.

Hard skills

Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities or knowledge sets. Social workers need hard skills to handle the technical and administrative aspects of their roles efficiently.

Hard skills you can use to excel at social work include:

  • Case management
  • Clinical assessment
  • Crisis intervention
  • Report writing
  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Legal knowledge
  • Resource coordination
  • Counseling techniques
  • Time management technology 

Soft skills

Soft skills facilitate effective communication, trust and teamwork. Social workers need soft skills to build rapport with clients, collaborate with colleagues, and navigate the complex emotional landscapes of their work.

Here are 10 must-have soft social worker skills:

  • Active listening
  • Case management
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Cultural competence
  • Flexibility
  • Problem-solving
  • Resilience
  • Time management

Computer skills

Computer skills are the ability to effectively use various software and digital tools to perform tasks such as data entry, communication and research. Social workers need computer skills to manage client information efficiently, communicate with stakeholders, and access resources and information necessary for providing comprehensive care.

Here are 10 computer skills that will help you be successful as a social worker:

  • Case management software
  • Electronic health records (EHR)
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Data entry
  • Email communication
  • Internet research
  • Social media
  • Basic IT troubleshooting
  • Confidentiality and security
  • Virtual meeting platforms

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are vital for social workers to understand their clients’ needs, provide empathic support, and work within multidisciplinary teams to deliver holistic and client-centered care.

Vital interpersonal skills for social workers include:

  • Community engagement
  • Relationship building
  • Boundary setting
  • Patience
  • Leadership
  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Trustworthiness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Empowerment

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are abilities and qualities that can be applied across different roles, industries, and situations. Social workers need transferable skills because they often work in diverse settings with many clients and issues.

Here are 10 valuable transferable social work skills:

  • Adaptability
  • Advocacy
  • Conflict management
  • Decision-making
  • Documentation
  • Ethics
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation
  • Public speaking
  • Self-awareness

How to improve your social work skills

Improving social work skills is crucial for professional growth and effectiveness in supporting clients and addressing complex social issues. Social workers must enhance their skills to adapt to clients’ evolving needs, stay abreast of best practices, and navigate changing organizational and societal contexts.

Here are some effective ways to enhance your social work skills:

  • Develop a practice of continuous education and training. Attend workshops, seminars and conferences and take online courses to learn new social work techniques, update your knowledge and gain insight into emerging trends in social work.
  • Seek regular supervision and mentorship from experienced social workers or supervisors. 
  • Connect and collaborate with your peers in the social work industry. Peer support groups, professional affiliations, and online communities can provide a forum for sharing experiences, learning from different perspectives, and developing knowledge. 
  • Consider clinical supervision, shadowing, or consultation with licensed therapists or counselors to enhance your therapeutic skills, address clinical challenges, and ensure ethical and effective practice in counseling and therapy.
  • Take time regularly to reflect on your strengths, areas for improvement and the impact of your work with clients. 
  • Seek client, colleague and supervisor feedback to identify where you can improve and set professional development goals.

How to highlight social work skills on your resume

Be strategic about incorporating social work skills into your resume. Don’t just highlight these skills in a dedicated skills section for maximum impact. While a dedicated skills section is essential to showcase your job-relevant abilities, it’s also effective to highlight these skills throughout your resume to amplify their significance.

Here’s how to display your social work skills in your resume in seven steps:

  1. First, consider your resume format. There are three standard formats, each of which will highlight your social work skills differently. 
  2. Next, choose a resume template that will display your social work skills clearly and professionally. 
  3. Prepare to write your resume by reviewing the job description and matching your social work skills and accomplishments to the job requirements. 
  4. To make a great first impression, add two or three of your top skills to your professional summary or resume objective. 
  5. Use your work history section to show what you’ve accomplished with your social work skills. “Implemented a new case management system that improved efficiency by 30%, resulting in a 20% increase in client satisfaction scores over six months.”
  6. Create a skills section to highlight the required skills. To make each one stand out, you might create categories to showcase specific types of skills, like,” “Interpersonal Skills,” and “Hard Skills.”

Common tools and technologies used in social work

Social workers utilize various tools and technologies to enhance their practice and better serve their clients in an increasingly digital world. These tools enable social workers to streamline administrative tasks, improve communication with clients and colleagues, access resources efficiently, and track client progress more effectively.

Here are some common tools and technologies used in social work:

  • Case management software is a platform designed to organize and manage client information, track services provided, and facilitate communication among team members.
  • Electronic health records (EHR) are digital systems for documenting client interactions, medical histories, treatment plans and progress notes.
  • Telehealth platforms are videoconferencing tools that enable remote counseling sessions, consultations and client meetings, increasing access to services.
  • Social media and online resource platforms and websites disseminate information, raise awareness, and connect clients with community resources and support networks.
  • Mobile apps are designed to schedule appointments, track medication adherence, provide self-help resources, and enhance client engagement and empowerment.

Best social work certifications

Certifications on your social work resume bolster your professional credibility, demonstrate your commitment to the profession, showcase your specialized knowledge to employers and clients, and pave the way for career advancement opportunities.

When selecting a certification, carefully review the specific requirements and prerequisites, and choose those that align with your career objectives and passions.

Several valuable certifications in the social work industry are tailored to various areas of expertise and career aspirations.

Here are some widely recognized certifications in social work:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
  • Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM)
  • Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
  • Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
  • Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM)

Key takeaways

Before you leave this guide to social work skills for a resume, remember these key points:

  • Social workers need a variety of skills, from interpersonal to technical, to guide and assist clients with a range of needs. 
  • Connecting and collaborating with your peers in the social work industry is a great way to improve and learn skills.  
  • Choose certifications that align with your career objectives and passions.
  • Use action verbs to bring your work accomplishments to life. 
  • You can put social work skills into every section of your resume. 
  • In your job history section, show how you have used your skills through quantifiable accomplishments.

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