Seeking employment in our current economy can be tough regardless of educational or work experience. For that reason, we thought it might be a good idea to share some strategies and resources for social workers who have found themselves looking for a social work job opening. We hope that you find this information helpful in your job hunt.
One of the fortunate things is that if you are a Social Worker (LMSW, LBSW, LCSW) than you have some flexibility in the types of career paths you may follow. Even if you have specialized education or work experience in a specific area of social work, it doesn't mean that you can't widen your scope and try something new. So, if you have mostly done medical social work and are not finding any jobs in that area, why not try public service social work or case management social work? Don't be afraid to broaden your scope as your social work job hunt moves forward. You may find your next niche fits you better than the last.
There are a number of organizations that hire social workers for a variety of positions. In searching for social work positions in your area, don't forget to check with local, county, state and federal government agencies to see what they currently have to offer. Government agencies frequently hire social workers for various positions. Many communities have local Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) programs or similar agencies that serve the mentally ill, those dealing with addiction and those with developmental delays.
The next big group of employers to consider is hospitals (both medical and psychiatric/addiction treatment centers). Hospitals and rehabilitation centers usually utilize the service of medical social workers to help facilitate care coordination and information and referral for patients. Psychiatric Hospitals frequently utilize social workers to conduct assessments, facilitate groups, provide case management services or quality review. Social workers are also frequently used in utilization review, a department that coordinates care and authorizations with insurance carriers.
Another major employer of social workers is insurance companies. They use social workers to conduct case management services to covered individuals who are receiving care in psychiatric hospitals or addiction treatment centers.
If you enjoy working with geriatric populations, you may also want to explore current social work job openings in retirement centers, nursing homes or convalescent homes. Many times these social work positions focus on case management and working with both residents and other family members.
Some larger private companies offer employees in house Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services or outsource this function. Either way, social workers are frequently utilized in the helping role which usually focuses on short term interventions (a few sessions) to help employees or their family members through a crisis situation. Looking for opportunities to get involved with EAP programs may lead to social work employment opportunities.
Non-profit agencies provide a wide variety of services to members of their community or specialized focus group. Social workers are frequently used in non-profit agencies to facilitate delivery of services depending on the function of the organization. It might be outreach, case management, or other function. Working in a non-profit agency can have other rewards also as it is frequently associated with helping the less fortunate in some way.
Many larger churches offer a counseling ministry and are increasing tapping mental health and licensed helping professionals, including social workers, to deliver counseling services to members and/or the community.
Corrections is another area where social workers might find employment. Many jails, prisons, and especially juvenile detention facilities may utilize social workers in a number of ways from case management to provider direct care for incarcerated individuals.
When checking with government agencies, don't forget to check with the local child welfare department (such as a Child Protective Services) and the Department of Health and Human Services for openings. Some police departments also fund and operate crime victim assistance programs which are frequently staffed at least partially with social workers.
As you can see, the potential social work employment opportunities are almost endless with regard to potential employers. We hope that this information has sparked your interest in some areas of social work you might not have considered in the past.
Finding the openings is the next step. We suggest that you start your search online using some of the many ideas above regarding where to start. You might research who are some of the largest hospital groups in your area for example and drill down on their website to employment opportunities.
The following is a brief list of a few resources you might want to consider utilizing in your social work job hunt. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but a starting point.
We wish you the best of luck in your future social work endeavors and good luck with your job hunt!
Career Builder Social Work Listings
Monster Social Work Listings
Unicef Employment Opportunities
Social Work Jobs in the US Federal Government
Beureau of Labor and Statistics Social Work Outlook 2011
Social Work Resume/Cover Letter Guide from Smith College
Don't forget to search for other local or national resource links as outlined above.