My Social Work Graduate School Application: What Do Schools Want to See on My Resume?

Congratulations on applying to the Master of Social Work (MSW) program! As you move along the path toward earning your MSW, your academic and professional goals will become intertwined. An MSW will prepare you with the education and qualifications to work as a professional social worker across the country.

As part of the application process for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, prospective students are required to submit their resume. Following are three tips to keep in mind to help ensure your resume is both high quality and effective.

  1. Highlight your relevant experience. As an aspiring social worker trying to stand out from hundreds of other applicants, it’s helpful to call attention to experience you’ve had in the field. This could include internships you’ve held while in school or outside of school; working in roles or organizations that provide social services; or volunteer positions where you contributed to the greater good. Your resume doesn’t have to include every single field experience you’ve had, but as a marketing document, it should be focused on the work you’ve done that will be most relevant to the next steps you’re trying to take. 
  2. Showcase your transferrable skills. For many students, graduate school is a way to make a career change. Your past work experience may be completely different from the type of work you hope to do in the future. If this describes you, you’ll be happy to know that there are likely a large number of skills from your past work or volunteer experiences that may transfer to your new career. Identify and highlight key areas where you’ve used your “soft” or “people” skills — problem-solving, management, community outreach and relationship building are all applicable to social work.
  1. Make sure your resume is professional and error free. This may sound simple, but paying attention to formatting, content and proofreading can make the difference between looking like a thoughtless or thoughtful future social worker. Review our checklist of basic resume tips, and make sure you’ve had at least one person proofread your resume for grammar and spelling errors before submission. For examples of effective content and formatting, take a look at these sample social worker resumes and use them as inspiration to create your own successful resume.

All graduate students in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work’s online MSW program have access to our Career and Professional Development team specialists at every stage of their academic career. We’ve created a Virtual Career Center that contains specific resources and information on how social workers can obtain state licensure, create their professional brand, develop a strong network, hone their interviewing skills and much more. We’re dedicated to helping students get the jobs they want after graduation and have a team of experienced staff members who have one-on-one coaching conversations with students every day.

Best of luck with your graduate program application!

Image: Tax Haven used under CC Public License / Cropped from original.