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Social Work Career Development, 2nd Edition
A Handbook for Job Hunting and Career Planning
Carol Nesslein Doelling
ISBN: 978-0-87101-363-7. 2005. Item #3630. 238 pages.

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Updated to respond to changes in the job market and the profession since the best-selling first edition, this unique handbook addresses in detail the career management and job search needs of social workers across job functions, fields, or degree levels, including self-assessment exercises, strategies for researching the job market and networking, details on resumes, curriculum vitae, and portfolios; tips on selecting master’s and doctoral programs, and much more.

Chapter 1: Setting a Direction for Your Search

Chapter 2: Researching Marketing and Salary Information

Chapter 3: Preparing Resumes, Curricula Vitae, Portfolios, and References

Chapter 4: Identifying Jobs and Pursuing Leads

Chapter 5: Interviewing Effectively

Chapter 6: Evaluating Job Offers

Chapter 7: Career Management and Professional Development

Appendix 1: Professional Associations

Appendix 2: Work Preferences

Appendix 3: Directories and Career Information Publications

Appendix 4: Information Specific to Fields

Appendix 5: Sample Cover Letters and Other Correspondence

Appendix 6: Sample Resumes

Appendix 7: Sample Interview Questions

Appendix 8: Online Job Information and Other Correspondence

Appendix 9: Special Opportunities: Fellowships, Internships, Training, and Loan Forgiveness Programs

Appendix 10: Sample Skills by Function

Appendix 11: Selecting Master’s and Doctoral Programs

Appendix 12: Specialty Certifications from the National Association of Social Workers

About the Author
Social Work Career Development, Second Edition, includes expanded sections on salary negotiation, interview questions, and outside-of-the-box career paths; and new résumé samples in addition to updated online services. The book remains a reference you can consult from time to time during your job search and throughout the course of your career. Looking for a job or thinking about a new career direction takes time, energy, and fortitude. It also takes information and ideas. When you need to expand your thinking about a search or career direction, revisit these pages.

The book is not meant to be read all at once. Skim the chapter headings and appendices, read the sections you need now, and mark pages for future reference. Take a look at the "Quick Tips" at the end of chapters 1-6. Use the contents as a springboard to get started or restarted, whether you are defining your next career step, looking for your first job, or seeking to expand your credentials. Note that throughout the book, BSW, MSW, and PhD are used to refer to all social work degrees at those levels.

Chapter 1: Setting a Direction for Your Search
The first chapter will help you make some decisions about your next career move, expand and warm up your vocabulary for a search, and prepare a concise message about your objective and qualifications. The chapter takes you through a series of self-assessment exercises to select the skills and knowledge areas in which you are most confident, identify your accomplishments, and consider what is important to you in your work. The exercises will enable you to write a résumé more quickly, focus the message of your correspondence and interviews more precisely, and evaluate an offer with greater confidence.

Chapter 2: Researching Market and Salary Information
You know it is difficult to solve a problem or assist someone else with a problem unless you first gather some information and assess the situation. The same is true of your search – this chapter helps you set the stage. How much you know about the big picture in your field of practice, particularly within your geographic boundaries, will affect what you look for, how long you look, and your ability to negotiate and make a decision on an offer. Think of researching the market as putting together your own resource and referral guide, database, or Rolodex. Instead of developing resource information for clients or constituents, you are preparing it for yourself. Chapter 2 discusses sources of information on potential employers, salary data, and network contacts. Appendices 1-4 provide detailed information on associations, employer directories, and questions you may want to ask about your field of practice.

Chapter 3: Preparing Résumés, Curricula Vitae, Portfolios, and References
Whether you are updating your résumé or curriculum vitae or starting from scratch with a new format, skim the information in this chapter and take a look at the samples in appendix 6. There are many possibilities for writing an eye-catching résumé. Select the style elements you like and create a résumé that best highlights your experience. If you are pursuing an academic career, review the discussion on the curriculum vitae and the sample in appendix 6. You will find the skills lists in appendix 10 helpful when writing or rewriting your résumé or curriculum vitae. Chapter 3 also discusses references and suggests how you can provide employers with samples of your work.

Chapter 4: Identifying Jobs and Pursuing Leads
You may believe that "who you know" is the best or only way to find a satisfying job. However, social workers have found satisfying jobs through other sources as well. When you need some additional ideas for sources of jobs, take a look at this chapter and at appendix 8. Chapter 4 suggests search strategies for those with a bachelor or master's degree in social work as well as those looking for an academic job, gives a detailed look at the job-search experience of some social workers, and discusses the value of several job sources for social workers. You will also find suggestions for following up on a job lead, including an outline for cover letters. Sample letters for several situations are in appendix 5.

Chapter 5: Interviewing Effectively
Chapter 5 recommends strategies for approaching the job interview as a two-way discussion between two or more people. When you are preparing to interview for jobs, review the suggestions for setting your agenda and packaging yourself, managing various interview formats, and fielding typical questions. You will find sample interview questions in appendix 7.

Chapter 6: Evaluating Job Offers
Deciding whether to accept a job offer can be difficult, especially when the employer wants a decision quickly. This chapter outlines a detailed process for evaluating and negotiating an offer. It may be helpful to skim this chapter early in your search so that you can anticipate the information you will need to make a satisfying decision.

Chapter 7: Career Management and Professional Development
Many insist that professional network is the key to a successful job search and career. Although "who you know" is an important element, keep in mind that "what you know" and "how you perform" are equally important in career management. Chapter 7 raises questions and gives examples for you to consider for managing a career change. You might read this section and the sample career paths once or twice a year to help brainstorm ways in which you might explore new options and expand your qualifications. The second part of the chapter details information on state licensures and certifications, professional certifications, post-degree training, and academic degree options. Appendix 9, which lists special opportunities, and appendix 11, which outlines recommendations for selecting graduate programs, complement chapter 7.
Carol Nesslein Doelling, MS, is director of career services at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work (GWB) at Washington University in St. Louis. She provides comprehensive career services for social work students and alumni, recruitment services for employers, and information on the social work job market to faculty.

Ms. Doelling developed the Job Market for MSW Graduates (with Barbara Matz, EdD), an annual report on the job-search experience of new MSWs nationwide. Later, she created Social Work and Social Services Jobs Online (with Violet Horvath, PhD, MSW), a career Web site especially for social workers. She has presented at annual meetings of Career Development and Social Work Education, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and its chapter affiliates.

She cofounded and hosted the first Career Development and Social Work Education conference. In 2003, she chaired the 11th conference, which was an Invitational Meeting on Recruitment, Retention, and Succession. The meeting, held at Washington University, brought together social work career specialists, executives from large service providers and national networks of social services, and representatives from NASW and CSWE.
To my knowledge, no other comparable resource is as comprehensive and informative as this second edition of Social Work Career Development. Every aspect of the social work job search and career development process is amply covered, and the examples, guidelines, and resource provided are interesting, appropriate, and up-to-date in terms of current issues. It is well-written and clearly organized book that is effective because of the reinforcement provided by principles, followed by examples, followed by checklists, followed by an abundance of resources in the appendices. The material is very timely as it includes such matters as how to handle sexism in hiring processes. It is easy for a lay reader to follow because it uses little jargon, gives good examples, and deals with issues that informed readers would recognize. Social Workers at every educational level will find specific and useful material geared to their needs.

Charles Garvin
Professor Emeritus of Social Work, University of Michigan School of Social Work


Social Work Career Development, 2nd Edition will be an indispensable tool for developing workshops, advising students, and providing resource information on virtually all areas of career advancement for social workers. Doelling does a superb job of identifying practical approaches to the job search process with an extraordinarily well-researched emphasis on the distinctive elements of the social work job market. Of particular interest are the refined negotiation skills section, updated internet jobsites, and progressive list of professional organizations and national networks. This is an outstanding book that should be considered a basic reference for social workers seeking to develop and advance their careers.

Jennifer Luna-Idunate, LMSW
Director, The DiNitto Center for Career Services
The University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work


This comprehensive Handbook should be an excellent source of empowerment and confidence for social workers as they seek to begin or advance their careers. It places control of the job search squarely in their hands. State-of-the-art appendices provide sample cover letters and resumes, sample skills by function, up-to-date online job online job information, comprehensive listings of internships and fellowships, and much more. Doelling’s book is a no-nonsense resource for new social work students, recent graduates, social work professionals making a job change, and individuals who are considering entering the profession or choosing an academic program. It is the only career guide a social worker will ever need!

Jimmie Cochran Pratt, MPH
Director of Career and Leadership Development
Columbia University School of Social Work