4 Ways to Leverage Your Position as a Social Worker
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Happy 2022!! As the new year is upon us, I pray for clarity, introspection, and intentionality with your goals and endeavors. In an effort to serve others, I want to elevate the vocational positions of social workers, social work students, and undervalued employees.
Leveraging your position does not automatically lead to monetary gain. Positional leverage requires creativity, intentionality, and ambition. As a student or employee, you will need to work and document the progression or succession of goals prior to the acknowledgment. Hence, positional leverage may involve growing your professional network, writing the business plan for private practice, or offering timeless services that translate across platforms and make consumers’ lives easier. The tips provided are not an ultimate guarantee; intrinsic passions are required to reap extrinsic rewards. However, in my experience of persistence, these tips have helped me reap the most reward in my social work studies.
Tip 1: Seek out hard skills or certifications within your field placement or course of study
With the desire to work with offenders and survivors of sexual exploitation, advanced clinical seminars or certification options were a personal requirement. I will be working with a highly traumatized group where specialized knowledge and skills will benefit treatment. At Widener University, I have the option of attending an advanced clinical seminar for trauma recovery. In the seminar, students receive therapeutic training on managing highly traumatized groups and coping with vicarious traumatization.
If your institution does not offer specific clinical seminars or certificate programs, leverage your field placement opportunities. Instead of a salary, negotiate the payment or supervisory hours of specific certifications or strongly emphasize the benefits of professional advancement within your place of business. If you are unsure of the hard skills or certifications required, a simple Google search and a job description review will provide a positive frame of reference. Therefore, you will become a marketable asset before the following job opportunity or graduation date.
Tip 2: Learn how to monetize the hard and soft skills
Who said a social worker only succeeds in the field of social work? Staying within your vocational bubble limits your opportunity. The expert and personable skills you gain from schooling and personal experience can be transferable to any field if you learn how to advertise your skills effectively. With any career, your repertoire needs to be adaptable to the trends of the job. The job market is interdependent; proficiency in one skill can ensure your spot in the unemployment line.
For instance, if you are a certified trauma counselor working with children in a residential treatment program. You can leverage your trauma-informed skills as a clinical supervisor for other aspiring counselors or become an in-house therapist for your local police department. You can leverage the soft skills of effective communication and team building to conduct weekly employee check-ins to bolster promotional prospects. Never sell yourself short! Every skill can be monetized, but you must discover a unique way to monetize it.
Tip 3: Document your talents
It is important to document or record your talents. Actions speak louder than words and a degree will not guarantee job placement.
Quotes of the Day
Learn how to advertise your professional expertise with a hobby!
Although I am not a clinician yet, documenting my experience as a social work student into a blog combines my love for writing with my passion for volunteerism, mentorship, and talking :) This blog also references my casual writing style in contrast to my scientific writing style as a researcher. Writing is not the only form of documentation; today’s creatives have provided a unique twist to the generic curriculum vitae, utilizing social media platforms, websites, or videos. Documenting your talents will not only impress your employers; employees may want to collaborate or consume your abilities.
Tip 4: Your network is your net worth!!
If you are introverted, the idea of networking may turn you off completely. The disingenuous act of initiating small talk for a job or connection can be socially draining and counterproductive. The simple notion of walking up to someone you did not properly assess may provoke anxiety-inducing thoughts.
It is the virtue and vice of living in a technological society. The virtue of technology is accessibility to what was once dictated by nepotism or executive rank. Now with websites like LinkedIn, a user can initiate a professional network from any part of the world. The vice of technology is the lack of effective communication. With relationships being conducted behind a screen, the person may not know how to initiate real-life conversation.
Your method of networking is to your discretion. However, when you do initiate contact, be genuine and authentic. No one appreciates a moocher. When the moment does not benefit you, check in with your mentors and talk about topics outside of their profession. Provide your mentors with life updates, for they wish to see you succeed beyond your career. Learn to cherish the moment and reciprocate the feeling a mentor exudes when they are genuinely invested in your wellbeing.
May these tips help propel your goals and motivate you to be intentional about your dreams!