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How to Start Your Job Search

These career-related tips can guide you in your job search and professional development as a social worker.

  1. Think about your values, interests, abilities and accomplishments to determine what job fields might be a fit for you. Your social work education is preparing you to work in a variety of settings (e.g., populations and types of clients), and sometimes it may be difficult to narrow down the options. Self-assessments (through the USC Career Center) and enlisting the help of others (e.g., field instructor, supervisor, professor or family) can shed light on what areas may interest you. The Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net OnLine are career exploration and job analysis tools you can use to determine the skills and qualifications needed for your desired position. Look at your experience gained through jobs, volunteering, internships and leadership activities and identify the skills you developed. This will help you highlight how your qualifications match what the employer is looking for. It will also help you write your cover letter and resume and prepare you for your interviewing strategy.
  2. Conduct informational interviews. Informational interviews can help you learn more about what individuals do, why they were interested in their job field and what skills you need to succeed in that area. These interviews can help you obtain a realistic perspective about the field and give you insight into the qualifications needed for the job. Informational interviews can also expand your network of contacts in your field of interest for future opportunities.
  3. Create/update your resume and cover letter. A resume is a brief document that summarizes your education, employment history and experiences that are relevant to a particular job that you are applying for. The purpose of a resume is to inspire the employer to call you for an interview. An effective cover letter can help you expand on some of your experiences to help an employer understand how you would be an asset to the agency or organization.
  4. Begin looking for job openings online and in-person. Even if you are not ready to set up interviews, search for jobs online, including the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work job openings and career resource links found on our website. This will help you craft your resume for the jobs to which you will eventually apply. You should also explore jobs as you network with managers, employees, professors, alumni and classmates. Oftentimes, many jobs are not posted or are filled before they are posted. Statistics show 80 percent of all jobs are never advertised.
  5. Make sure your presence across the Internet and social media profiles is appropriate. A majority of employers use social media background checks to gather information on job applicants. Conduct a keyword search on your name, check websites where you have a presence (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn) and make sure all posted pictures and comments are appropriate.
  6. Consider creating LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Your presence in social media helps human resources professionals and recruiters find you. The main social media portals for job searches are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Utilize these portals to connect with individuals, follow agencies/organizations and identify job postings.
  7. Attend our career development workshops. The school offers opportunities to help you present your knowledge and skills in a way that makes you stand out. Current students find these workshops and information sessions invaluable for preparing them for the job search, planning their careers and finding meaningful work. Check our calendar of events frequently for dates and times.