Job Search for a Macro Social Worker
By Rachel L. West
Advocacy & Community Outreach Consultant
This is an update on a series of articles, Job Search for a Macro Social Worker, which were published last year. I have combined the three articles that made up the original series as well as added additional resources. Feel free to share this information with you colleagues and/or students. As always I ask if you share this article that you do not remove my name from it.
I decided to write this post after a member of people inquired on multiple LinkedIn discussion groups how a social worker can find a macro practice job. One person who was about to graduate was beginning her job hunt only to find that the vast number of advertised positions for social workers focused on direct practice.
Let’s not sugar coat this; it is not essay out there for a macro social worker. In this day and age the assumption (even among many in the profession) is that MSWs are only interested in and capable of being therapist. Obtaining a LCSW is viewed as the be all and end all. I cannot recall how many surprised looks I’ve gotten from peers when I tell them I have no plans of taking the clinical social worker exam. Furthermore the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is focused primarily on serving the needs of clinicians. All the CEU classes are geared for micro/mezzo level practice and the majority of articles written for NASW News and social work journals deal with direct practice issues.
Despite current trends towards clinical work, there is so much more an MSW can do besides direct practice. You just have to think outside the box.
- When using job boards for your search don’t enter the terms “social work” or “social worker.” Odds are if a position has the job title of “social worker” it is going to be direct practice in nature. Try using terms like community organizer, coordinator, advocate, community educator, or prevention specialist. (There is a more detailed list of job titles below)
- Use job boards that are not solely for social workers or mental health professionals. Be aware that the majority of the advertisements on boards dedicated to social work will be for micro/mezzo focused jobs. (See below for a list of job boards)
- Be prepared to justify why an MSW qualifies you for the job. You need to be aware that many times the person reviewing your application or interviewing you will most likely not be a social worker and therefore may not be aware of the scope of a social work education. You are going to be competing with applicants who hold a JD, MPA, or poli sci degree. You are going to have to show that you are capable of doing more than just counseling families and individuals.
- Network with professionals who are not social workers. Reiterating what I said before, The NASW is geared heavily towards clinical social work. As a result, if you are a macro practitioner you are not going to get a whole lot out of their networking events. Do some research and find out what other networking opportunities exist in your area for professionals involved in social justice or politics.
Search Terms & Settings
I thought it might be helpful to give a list of search terms to aid in your search for a macro position. If you go to your favorite job board and type “social work” or “MSW” you are only going to find posts for direct practice jobs, so it is important to not limit yourself to those search terms. Instead try:
- Community Organizer (CO)
- Field Organizer (This is usually a campaign position)
- Community Educator
- Program Coordinator/Manager/Specialist
- Prevention Specialist
- Legislative Aide
- Outreach Specialist/Coordinator
- Planning & Program Development
- Membership Coordinator
I suggest reading Jobs and Careers In politics and Public Service. It is a free PDF and gives some good information on the types of jobs available in the political arena.
Below is a list of some of the settings where you may find macro jobs:
- Nonprofits that focus on social justice issues
- Political campaigns
- Think tanks
- Idealist.org: Idealist is a site for nonprofit job seekers. You can register and set up email notification for jobs in your area of interest. You can also find articles about nonprofits and charity work as well as volunteer opportunities and seminars.
- EMILY’s List: Who is Emily? There is no Emily, it an acronym for Early Money Is Like
Yeast (it makes dough rise). The mission of this organization is to train and support progressive pro-choice women and their campaign staff. EMILY’s List also has a job distribution list and a job bank you can submit your resume to.
- The Hill: This is an online political news site that focuses on DC. The website features a (free) jobs section.
- Politico: Politico is another political news site with a job board. You can post your resume and set up email alerts.
- National Conference of State Legislatures: This organization supports sates legislators and legislative staff in all 50 states. Click on the resources & Directories tab then go to the jobs clearing house section and click on job listings.
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: This is a site for nonprofit news and jobs.
- Organizers for America: List community organizing jobs.
- Feminist Majority Foundation: FMF is a good resource for macro positions with social good organizations. You can also find internships.
You can also check the websites of political parties. The DCCC lists open jobs. Most websites for state and local legislatures will also have a section that list job openings.
Another tip is to not solely rely on the internet for your job search. Many open positions are not advertised and agencies often neglect to update the career section of their website, so do some research on local agencies and organizations. Make a list of the ones you are interested in working for then send a letter of inquiry along with your resume.
A letter of inquiry is similar to a cover letter but instead of responding to a job ad you are inquiring as to whether or not they have open positions that fit your qualifications.
Also, consider volunteering. This can lead to job opportunities as well as give you the chance to gain new skills. Most organizations prefer to hire someone they know over someone who randomly sent a resume. This is also why it is a good idea to keep in touch with supervisors from your field placements.
If you are looking for more information on macro social work careers, I provide coaching for students and professionals. I am also available for speaking engagements. You can by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in the Job Search for a Macro Social Worker Webinar please go the this link and fill out the form. You will receive an invite the next time the webinar is scheduled.
Job Search for a Macro Social Worker by Rachel L. West is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.politicalsocialworker.org/macro-social-work-job-search/.