Top 10 Skills Needed for a Job in Social Work

Getting a job in social work can be tough, especially in the current employment climate. Finding a job in general can be very taxing. But, with the right skills and education - such as an msw degree -, landing your dream job as a social worker can be a little easier. These top ten skills can help you stand out amongst the competition and help you in the running for your dream job.

1. Communication

Communication is easily one of the most important aspects of social work. Verbal and written communications are something you’ll be required to partake in each and every day, so if you’re not comfortable communicating on a daily basis, this may not be the right field for you. You may have to advocate for funding or programs, so communication skills are key.

2. Problem solving

Empowering individuals is a key function of a social worker. But to do this, you must help your client work through problems and challenges. Communicating a clear, concise, and healthy way to overcome obstacles is essential to performing well as a social worker. You will often have to find solutions for individuals and communities, so critical thinking is an excellent and much-sought-after skill to have.

3. Respect

As a social worker, you’ll often interface with people from all walks of life. You’ll work with individuals of different ethnic backgrounds and races, and each of them needs to be treated with dignity and respect. Working with a diverse clientele can lead to many different types of challenges, and a social worker who respects this will succeed.

4. Assessment

Almost half of your time as a social worker will be spent on managing cases. As such, it’s important to be able to determine who needs what resources and how quickly they need them. By being able to prioritize and assess, you’ll have an easier time managing cases and keeping clients safe and happy.

5. Critical Thinking

With problem solving comes critical thinking, but making informed decisions and applying social work theories is key to serving a client’s needs. You must also act in an ethical and informed manner to best serve your organization. Searching open-mindedly for answers and keeping calm during crisis situations are required skills for any professional social worker.

6. Documentation and detail

You will often have to document processes and outcomes as a social worker. Without these skills, completing tasks such as compiling court information obtained during an investigation would be impossible and you wouldn’t get very far with most social work organizations. Attention to detail--and the ability to document that detail thoroughly--is critical.

7. Organization

If you find that it’s tough for you to get work done because the things you need are never where they should be, this may not be the right role for you. Social workers need to stay on top of multiple cases and situations at a time--if you’re not organized (and thus are unprepared), you won’t be able to do your job. Social workers must be ready to handle whatever happens, and if you can’t find important papers or documents, you won’t make it.

8. Compassion and Understanding

Social work obviously comes with a human aspect. Social workers must be compassionate and understanding of the human situation and human relationships. Understanding that an individual needs friends and family for support is key in being a good social worker.

9. Intervention

Emergency situations are common for social workers. Being able to handle or intervene in these situations is an important skill for any social worker. Drawing out strengths and empowering clients are two great ways to intervene in situations where the client may be facing a challenge. Using their existing strengths helps them draw on those attributes in the future so that they can handle problems on their own.

10. Leadership 

Finally, leadership is an essential skill for social workers because you are, in fact, a leader to your clients. You must advocate for your clients, especially to your clients. You will also have to advocate for existing and new programs and resources for your clients and their communities.

These skills will help you develop a successful career as a competent social worker. 


Image source: flickr