Writing a Human Services Resume

By Joe Stein

While most Human Service positions are still driven off of a company application, it has now become standard practice to send (or have available) a Cover Letter and Resume. For many Human Services Professionals, that reality generates a feeling of “how do I get started” when writing a good resume. A well written resume will help generate interviews so that the Hiring Manager can see the “real you”, and subsequently want to schedule an interview.
Writing a Human Services resume may seem like a difficult task, but, in reality, the challenges are very similar to what others in different professions face. There are some areas or tips that apply more to this profession than perhaps others. Let’s take a look at some aspects of a Human Services resume that are more unique to this area. For other, more general tips, please see our website @ www.wnyjobs.com. You will find a wealth of information available there for the Job Seeker.
·         Use Objective Numbers - One of the most important aspects of a resume is to quantify, with numbers, what you have accomplished. A common error in thought is that a person in a Human Services role does not have the ability to objectively describe what they have done. There is, however, a number of ways you can use numbers to better describe why you should be helpful. These numbers provide a perfect combination when offered along with subjective information, such as references. For example, you can quantify your average case load. Think about how you increased productivity (i.e., greater case load, or closing cases quicker) and put a number to the budget savings of your productivity gains. Employers love to read about how an employee saved money, especially in this economy. Finally, try to quantify your quality by basing yourself to some numbers, such as successful case rate (i.e., program completion, decrease in repeat “offenders”, etc.).
·         Describe What You Actually Did - The titles of Human Services vary greatly across employers. You may be doing yourself a great disservice if you just list your title because it may be one that undervalues your role. Use the Resume to outline your specific area of specialties throughout your career. This detail will go a long way to ensuring that your resume is marketed to the prospective employer at the correct level.
·         Note Your Licensing/Certification - Always include your licensing and certifications relevant to the position. Don’t make the Recruiter assume you have obtained the necessary documents. List recent training that you have attended, beyond your licensing, that is relevant. This will express your desire for continued learning and will inform the Hiring Manager that you have stayed current in the field.
·         Sell Your Secondary Skills - Don’t forget the other secondary skills you have that may be important, such as your computer skills or your strong written and oral communication ability. These are crucial skills in the Human Services field, due to the client interaction and the constant documentation that is required.
·         Brag a Little - Include any awards or recognition that you have been awarded in the recent years. This may be a monthly/annual reward for the breadth of your work, or some type of recognition for how you handled a specific case or situation. Since the field of Human Services is so in-rooted in helping others, you may also consider listing any Community Service you have performed outside of your paid career. This will help reinforce your overall dedication to those in need.
·         Maintain Confidentiality – Do not provide any information on the Resume that would shed light on the identities of those you have helped. During the Interview, take care to maintain confidentially by speaking of the situation but not the identities.
·         Reference Your References – Since your past reputation and experiences are so important, I would go ahead and either state that “References Available upon Request” on the bottom of your document, or go ahead and include a list of them on a separate page of paper. Do your homework and list references that will speak highly regarding your dedication, care, and compassion. Combined with your stated metrics, you will have a dynamite one-two punch.
Your resume is not designed to land you the job that you desire. Rather, it is a written tool that informs the prospective employer about you and, hopefully, piques their interest in exploring further. The goal is to land an interview where you will be able to fully explain why you're the candidate they should be hiring.
As always, the best of luck in your job search.