Fall 1994, Vol. 1, No. 2
Getting a Job in State Government
by Linda Grobman, ACSW, LSW
Do you work for the state? This question is commonly asked of social workers when they introduce themselves to others for the first time.
In fact, a large percentage of social workers work in state government positions. This is where many social workers begin their professional careers.
Most state governments have a state merit system or civil service commission. The process for applying for jobs is similar from state to state. As an example, when I graduated with my MSW from the University of Georgia, I applied to work in the Georgia state merit system. First, I completed a state merit system job application. As I was advised, I included on the application all relevant experience, including volunteer work and field placements. The application included a space to list the job titles for which I was applying. I looked through the brochures published by the state and found several that were of interest--social worker, human services technician, caseworker, and so on. If I met the minimum qualifications, I put it on my list. There was also a space asking where in the state I was willing to work.
After I completed the application, I was given a score for each job classification, based on my education and experience. For some job titles, I was required to take a written exam before being given a score. In such cases, I received a notice in the mail telling me when the exam would be given next. Once I had completed the exam, I received my score in the mail.
After I had received scores for various job titles, I began to get interview notices in the mail. Whenever a job opening occurred, the hiring agency would send a notice to the top people on the merit system list for that job title. Each time I received a notice, I was responsible for contacting the agency and setting up an interview. If I consistently declined to be interviewed for jobs in a certain classification, my name would be taken off the list for that job title.
I interviewed for several jobs in child welfare, mental health, and mental retardation agencies. Within about three months after I graduated with my MSW, I began working in a state mental health facility.
State government employment can offer a new social worker a wide range of experience with clients from all walks of life. It can also offer opportunities for advancement within the state system. State merit system salaries and benefits are generally competitive with those of other employers.
If you are interested in working in state government, check with your state's civil service commission or merit system for application procedures, exam dates and deadlines, and other pertinent information, or contact your school's career planning and placement office.
Copyright © 1994 White Hat Communications. All rights reserved. From THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER, Fall 1994, Vol. 1, No. 2. For reprints of this or other articles from THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER (or for permission to reprint), contact Linda Grobman, publisher/editor, at P.O. Box 5390, Harrisburg, PA 17110-0390, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.