There are many factors to consider when putting together application materials for a graduate program: from transcripts to test scores, it can be monumental task to ensure that you have all of the materials you need to best present yourself to an application review committee. Amid all these materials, the resume can sometimes be overlooked or receive less scrutiny. For Florida State University College of Social Work’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program, the resume component of the application bears substantial importance, as the review committee considers this document to be a good indicator of whether applicants will thrive in the program. For example, while describing your social work or volunteer experience is essential, outside experience is just as important to include. This article looks to some essential tips for building your best resume that highlights your background and stresses your preparation for a graduate degree in social work.
The best rule of thumb for any resume is to ensure that the information you include is well organized in a logical format. Most resumes lead off with a professional objective and a list of educational credentials; from that point the most common structures for the resume are the chronological, which highlights your accomplishments in the order you achieved them, or the functional, which stresses your abilities in different professional aspects and how you acquired them. Either format – and even a blend of the two – can work well, but it is best to keep the various elements clearly delineated. You can separate elements with bold headers, for instance, or use bullet points to help visually categorize your achievements to keep your document both organized and visually appealing. Regardless of format choice, be sure to consistently include dates of all experiences included.
Be Brief and Targeted
In addition to maintaining order in your social work resume, it is also valuable to be succinct. To prepare for reviews of your resume, you should tailor your document to be both informative yet concise. Try to summarize as much possible and avoid any instances of repetition whenever possible. You can also work to omit information that might not be immediately relevant. You shouldn’t feel that you need to list everything you’ve accomplished; rather, decide what you think will showcase your social work abilities most effectively to the application review committee. Professional experience in the field is fantastic, but volunteer work or internships that relate to the field are also valuable to note. As you work to develop these elements, try to brainstorm to ensure that you are including all that you have done thus far in your career to describe your social work expertise. Keep in mind, too, any experience shared in your personal statement and with the professional recommendations you obtain and be sure that your resume supports information shared in other parts of your application file.
Perhaps most importantly, you should ensure that your resume tells your own story. You can, for example, use an objective statement at the opening of your resume to include a brief sentence or two on what you personally hope to achieve in Florida State University’s online MSW degree. You should also consider including experiences beyond the field of social work that highlight your unique abilities. The application review committee hopes that each incoming class includes a dynamic student body coming from diverse backgrounds, so any relevant skills you can showcase – even if they were acquired in divergent fields – can be beneficial to include.
Edit Well and Check for Accuracy
Once you’ve composed these elements in a well-designed and organized reflection of who you are personally and professionally, the final step is to edit. You should make sure to double-check for spelling, grammar, and tense errors throughout your resume. The review committee will be looking for accuracy in content as well as form as accuracy is an important quality in social work. In other words, you should edit your resume as if it is a writing sample you are adding to your application and be vigilant for even the smallest of mistakes. It is highly recommended to have a mentor or friend review your resume. Over time, you will also want to update your resume to ensure that it offers a current and accurate survey of your social work experience. It is wise to review your past listings for any inconsistencies with date or location so that the application review committee has the most up-to-date information on your academic and professional history. If you choose to include references in your resume, make sure to keep their contact information current as well.
Build Your Credentials and Connections
Though developing your resume can take some hard work, you can craft an expert resume for the field of social work by incorporating these suggestions and by distilling what is most important in your background that showcases your abilities and your potential into one compelling document. Florida State University’s online MSW program aims to cultivate leaders in the field of social work, but getting to know each individual student is valuable as well. In this regard, the resume becomes a crucial tool for the admissions committee to get to know you and to envision how you might benefit from and contribute to the next incoming class. Therefore, think of the resume as the means for Florida State University’s online MSW program to gain its first impression of you; like any first impression, aim to make it a good one.