Crocus in Snow
by Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW
As you recover from your holiday break, you may be thinking spring can’t come soon enough. If you’re in the home stretch of your social work degree program, catch spring fever early by prepping your brand for graduation. Although finals are still on the horizon, before you know it you will have an awesome new degree and be searching for a job.
If you’re new to the work world or a seasoned professional returning to your career (or maybe you worked through grad school) after graduation, here are some tips for putting your best foot forward this spring.
For the Newbies
- Your lack of work experience is what it is. Don’t try to stretch making your experience as a movie theater cashier something that it isn’t, which may be perceived as phony. Your enthusiasm and good references from your field education supervisors, volunteer experiences, and professors will speak for themselves and will shine through.
- Add your internships/field placements to your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Those experiences are the best way to showcase your skills in a work setting and serve as a great jumping off point. You may even be considered for a full-time job where you are currently doing your field placement.
- Scrub your social media profiles clean of those pictures from your partying college days (if that was your thing). Those images of you holding a beer and looking inebriated or the Halloween costume that showed off your off-color humor have to go.
For the Pros
- Reach out to your network by e-mail or social media (whichever is most comfortable) and ask to have coffee or talk briefly on the phone to seek advice. In these conversations, you can let people know you are graduating, talk about the interests and expertise you’ve developed through your social work education, and network to see what’s available.
- If you’re not that into social media, take the leap, because it will help you to connect with influencers and former colleagues and display new skills. Start by creating a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Ask for advice from other students in your program who may already be well versed in how to use social media.
- Review these blog posts in the Your Social Work Brand series. Are You A Social Media Introvert?; Authenticity and Your Brand; Four Steps to Managing Your Brand on Social Media While in Clinical Practice; What We Gain and Our Goals for Personal Branding: It’s Different for Everyone; The Anatomy of an Elevator Pitch; Out With the Old, In With Your New Social Work Brand in 2016. I hope these articles will help you think through positioning your brand in the job market.
- Ask for job references and testimonials from your field education supervisors. Sprinkle them in all places that make sense, such as your LinkedIn profile, website, and other online profiles.
- Update your graduation date as soon as you walk and accept your diploma.
- All those papers you wrote while in your MSW program, in addition to your recent research and timely topics, are fertile material to create blog and social media posts. You could even venture to write for your favorite publication. Sharing what you learned will highlight your interests and strategic skills.
- Create a great résumé , which will be populated throughout your branding presence. Check out 10 Essential Tips for Your Amazing Social Work Résumé (from The New Social Worker).
Although you’ll have to survive a cold winter, this is food for thought for planning for a productive spring.
Kristin Battista-Frazee, MSW, is an author, marketing professional, and social worker. In addition to writing The New Social Worker's "Your Social Work Brand" column, she is the author of The Pornographer's Daughter (Skyhorse, 2014). She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Florida State University and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.