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A human service resume should aim to show the applicant’s ability to work with people, communicate effectively and handle stressful situations. Resumes should highlight the skills, abilities and experiences to fulfill the requirements for jobs encompassing social services, case management, drug and mental health counseling, community organizing and advocacy work.
As with most resumes, work experience should be listed in chronological order, from most recent to oldest. The objective here is to clearly show the potential employer a summary of what the applicant has done, as it applies to the open position. A person with gaps or an inconsistent employment history, however, should consider listing his or her past experience by categories of types of jobs, rather than chronological order. For human service resumes it is particularly important to include work or volunteer experience that involves working with and helping people. Recent graduates should emphasize community service internships or volunteer work.
Since many human service positions have education requirements, education must be listed near the top of the resume. An applicant wants the employer to know that he has the qualifications from the start. A human services resume must show that the applicant possesses the knowledge required to work with a specific population or to practice in a specific setting. Applicants should list their degree or any specialized training, the institution, any honors or rewards received, research or thesis topic, if applicable, and relevant courses. For instance, an applicant who is applying to work with people with HIV/AIDS should list any courses taken on this topic.
The objective of the language used in a resume is to allow readers to gain relevant information quickly. If the employer is skimming resumes, she should be able to find the needed information without having to carefully study the resume. An applicant can achieve this by using a concise style, avoiding personal pronouns and including actionable phrases. Some action words that might be used in a human service resume include "volunteered," "utilized," "facilitated," "coordinated" and "participated." Human service job seekers should use key words and phrases that show a professional understanding of the field. For instance, when describing work experience with a specific client population, use words such as "diagnosis," "presenting issues," "age," "ethnicity" and "socio-economic status."
The content of a human services resume should fulfill the objective of showing employers the applicant’s strengths and unique abilities. The applicant should share his accomplishments. For instance, if he started a support group for single mothers as part of his second year internship, that information should be highlighted. Applicants should stress positive accomplishments and omit work that is not relevant to the specific position.