How to Have a Successful Career in Social Work
There are many reasons why you might have chosen to pursue a career in social care. You likely have the desire to help those who are in need in your community and to work towards a better overall environment for the members of that community.
A dedicated and qualified social worker is fully capable of having a positive impact on society. However, from a career perspective, success isn’t always a guarantee. Rather, you will have to put in the legwork and effort necessary to set yourself up for a successful career.
The good news is that there are a number ofways in which you can build your own successful career in social care. As a social worker, success isn’t always measured in numbers. Rather, instead of thinking of success in regard to your salary, think about it with respect to the number of people you are able to help in your career.
With that in mind, if you are on your way to building your own career as a social worker, here are a few points to keep in mind that can help you to accomplish your goals so that you can be as successful as possible in your professional endeavors.
Start With Self-Care
Even though the bulk of your career is going to be spent in the pursuit of helping others, it is also important to remember that you won’t be able to do much good unless you also care for yourself. In fact, many professionals consider self-care to be an integral part of being a successful social worker.
For starters, being a social worker means that you are going to be focusing on others the majority of the time. This can be mentally taxing and emotionally draining in a number of ways. However, by integrating self-care into your normal routine, you can maintain a healthy and strong mental state so that you can better serve the patients that you work with.
It is important to remember that self-care isn’t a concept that should wait for when you start your professional career. Rather, it is a good idea to start working on this aspect of yourself when you are still in school. The time that you spend earning your education is the time that you should be working on a variety of skills, not the least of which is the ability to look after yourself.
Work on the Essential Skills
There is a great deal of knowledge and information that you are going to obtain while you are in school earning your degree in social work. However, there is more to being a successful social worker than having a lot of information. There are also a number of essential skills that you will need to develop and work on in order to be successful at the job.
For instance, every good social worker is in possession of strong communication skills. The ability to listen as well as communicate to your patients is essential when it comes to being successful in this line of work.
Another essential skill that you will need in order to be successful in your job as a social worker is empathy. Throughout your career, you are going to be encountering people from all sorts of backgrounds and social situations. Many of your patients will be struggling with one issue or another. You will need to have the ability to understand where they are coming from and empathize with their struggles if you are going to help them through their current situations.
Other skills that you should look to develop in your pursuit of a successful career as a social worker include critical thinking, cultural competence, and patience. With the right skills, you will be able to do the greatest amount of good in your role as a social worker.
As is the case with most other professions, being as organized as possible is a goal that can’t be overstated when you become a social worker. You are going to be handling multiple cases all at once, working in conjunction with other healthcare professionals, and trying to maintain productive relationships with other authoritative bodies such as your local government.
Because of all this, being organized is absolutely essential. Not only will you need to become a master of time management in order to stick to your schedule, but being organized will help you to offer your patients the care and attention that they need.
This is another one of those qualities that you should start working on while you are still in school. Consider your time in school as an opportunity to practice your time management and organizational skills. In the end, you will be better equipped to manage your hectic schedule and prioritize the issues that matter the most once you start your career as a social worker.
Avoid Making False Promises
When it comes to working with social work patients, it can be all too easy to try to offer someone hope and positivity by making them certain assurances or promises. It is important to remember, however, that you won’t be doing your patients and favors if you fall into the habit of making false promises.
Unfortunately, whether you are working with patients in a hospital or in your own practice, there are a number of factors that can come into play with regard to progress. Since some of these factors will be out of even your control, keeping life in perspective is essential. Not only will this help to govern your patients’ expectations and progress, but it will also help you to keep a steady perspective as well.
One factor that many busy professionals struggle with is the task of keeping their home life separate from their work life. It is important to bear in mind the fact that even though your job as a social worker is incredibly important, you still have your own personal life that you need to maintain.
A great way to help you to keep your personal and work lives separate is to set boundaries. For instance, make a rule that you are not going to bring your work home with you. It might be tempting to do so, but you won’t be able to serve your patients successfully unless you allow yourself some time to unwind at the end of the day and on the weekends. Remember, your work will still be waiting for you when you get back to the office.
Focus on the Highs as Well as the Lows
In your line of work, you are going to find that you encounter some challenging situations, and it can be easy to allow the darker side of these situations to become overpowering and overwhelming. However, by placing as much focus on the positives in your job as you do on the negatives, you will be able to maintain a proactive and optimistic approach to your work.
You might consider getting into the habit of writing out at least one or two positive outcomes that occurred at work each day. Before you leave for the day, set aside five minutes to do just that so you can keep your eye on the prize, so to speak, and maintain the positive outlook that you need to be successful in your career as a social worker.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Local Resources
As a social worker, you will need to learn how to use the resources at your disposal in order to bring about better outcomes for your patients. In order to do this, you will need to become very familiar with those resources and how you can access and use them to your greatest advantage.
A major part of this process involves building strong professional relationships with those who are in charge of those resources. In addition to having a relationship with local law enforcement, you will also want to familiarize yourself with those who work in the health service in your area and even those involved in local government.
In the end, such relationships will not only help save you time in your work, but they will also help you to obtain access to the resources that you need to help your patients.
Stay Current on Policy
One issue that many social workers find themselves battling with throughout their careers is policy. Legislation and policy are always changing; a fact that can leave many social workers playing catchup if they aren’t careful. If you hope to be successful in your work, you will need to stay apprised of any and all changes to legislation that pertain to your line of work.
Set aside some time each week to check in on the legislation and policies that are pertinent to you. By keeping up with changes on a routine basis, you will be better able to avoid those situations where you are in the dark. By approaching your work in this manner, you can make sure that you have all the information you need to provide your patients with the care they need.