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Sowkat 08-17-2017 08:55 AM

Difficulty/Ease of finding a School Social Work Job?
Hello all my School Mental Health Peeps!

I have a School Social Work job, but have found that the jobs are few and there is a lot of competition in my area, Chicagoland. I had a principal tell me recently that he had 140 applicants for a Middle School Social Work job! I got a phone interview, but not the job. Is it just me that is having trouble? Is it my region where it is particularly tough? I'd love to hear your opinions/experiences!


Tawaki 08-17-2017 10:55 AM

It's insanely hard here...
I live in Michigan.

You didn't give a whole bunch of detail about your work experience and how many years you have been working. So my suggestions are just sort of winging it...

For a district...

A 2 to 3 year tour of duty with the State/County/residential pediatric psychiatric center/pediatric hospital based experience. Social workers working in a private setting don't get a look.

All the licenses needed. They don't wait for anyone. I believe social school workers need an LSMW-C.

Elementary vs Middle vs High school all have different needs. Do you have only experience in primary and want to work in secondary? Here your previous client population experience matters too.

My DD middle school shares a school psychologist and a school social worker between three middle schools. The middle school has two on site "counselors', and I don't know their credentials.

That's two school social workers for a whole district of middle schoolers. Our two high schools have around 2,000 kids a piece so the district isn't tiny.

Around 150 applications per 1 job seems about right. The 4 grade position at my DD elementary school had over 300.

I guess the good news is you have a job in your field. Why the move? Private wanting to moving to public? Toxic district?

So...can be incredibly hard to get a social work job, especially if you live in an place where the universities crank new social workers out. I know of at least 4 schools in my area.

It's not an easy job market here. I know social workers taking Para Pro positions.

ETA: I read in another post you are at a private school. That experience only and a LSMW-C wouldn't even give you a call back here. (I am assuming that's all you have)

Also my district is huge on community outreach and love canidates who have that experience.

While my district will hire a freshly hatched baby teacher right out of school, that doesn't seem to happen with LMSWs.

Sowkat 08-17-2017 11:41 AM

Thanks for confirming my fears, Tawaki! You're right, I am wanting to move from private to public. I have over 10 years as a school social worker in public (CPS) prior to my 2 years in private. I have an LCSW. I get interviews now, which I couldn't even get those when I was in CPS, so that's good. I'm also involved in parent education with a local organization and am a member of an area crisis responder's group. I am at a pre-K-8, and that is the setting for most of my years. I worked in an alternative HS for one year. I have been interviewed for a range, mostly pre-k-8. I had a second interview at a public HS last year that I ultimately did not get. :( HS is preferred but would like any public at this point.

It's so frustrating. I'm not hating where I am, but I miss public. Anyway, thanks for your insights and affirmation, even if it's confirming a problem!

GraceKrispy 08-18-2017 07:05 AM

Hi! I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I currently work in Washington, and I don't see any openings for sw positions, pretty much ever. In my old district in Hawaii, they had only 2 sw for every complex (about 2 hs, 2 middle, 7-8 elem and several charter k-12 or 6-12 or k-8). The positions never opened.

I'm not sure what the outlook is at other locations. To be honest, I'd never seen a sw at school until I moved to Hawaii. When I worked in NM, I know we didn't have them.

It sounds like it's definitely not you! Not sure how much of a consolation that is, but I think the fact that you landed an interview while competing with hundreds of applicants speaks to your strong background. I hope you are able to find something!

Sowkat 08-18-2017 05:31 PM

Thanks GraceKrispy! Your posts are always so encouraging!

I had an interview on Wednesday and felt like I prepared well and was "on it" with the questions. However, I got a super rushed vibe from the principal. She really just wanted to seem to get me in and out. I really do look nice for interviews, I'm not stinky! ;) The vibe that I got was that they were doing the interview to do it, and had already chosen someone. The principal from earlier in the summer that told me that there were 140 applicants for one job also told me that I was competing with "internal candidates." The Wednesday interview is in the same district, so it had me wondering if they still going through their internal candidates.

Sigh. We'll see.

GraceKrispy 08-19-2017 08:58 AM

Ugh, interviewing just to interview is the worst :( It's interesting, some districts seem to want their internal candidates and some seem to want fresh blood. Competing against unknown factors stinks. One of my friends was in a similar position in that she was interviewing for a position and was pretty sure the position was already filled by the way the interview went. A few weeks later, she got a call from another principal who asked her to come interview. It was another nearby district. The first principal told her friend the other principal about this person she interviewed, and she ended up getting the second job. She had made a positive impression on the first principal who really did want her to have a job (she just had someone internal in mind for her job). You just never know, but I know it's hard to give up hope. Fingers crossed!!

Sowkat 08-25-2017 01:04 PM

I did not get the job, GraceKrispy! Here was the email...

"I would like to thank you for the recent opportunity you provided us to meet and interview you. Your interview enhanced the information that you provided in your application and resume and assisted us in assessing your qualities as a match for the social worker position at our school.
While you continue to be an attractive candidate, the position for which you were being considered has been filled."

At least they were nice about it! :I

GraceKrispy 08-27-2017 08:08 PM

Bummer, I'm sorry you didn't get the job :( I'm really glad you at least got notified that the job was filled, and in a polite way as well. Small consolation, but at least you're not still waiting. Here's the hoping the next interview you get (soon!!) will be the one!

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