What to Look for When Hiring Social Workers
February 24, 2021

Social workers have a tough job. After all, they support people through the most difficult times of their lives. And, because social work can be so demanding, it takes a certain set of qualities to succeed.

Let’s look at the skills and characteristics that you want to see from candidates when hiring social workers…



We’ll start with a social work essential — empathy. Being able to relate to people is a pillar of excellent social work. Without it, the client will feel isolated and misunderstood.

You can’t help a person without understanding their problems. So empathy is the number one quality that every social worker needs.


Observant & Perceptive

Following on from empathy, social workers should have strong observation skills. Sometimes a person won’t be upfront about their dilemmas — either because they’re afraid, or don’t recognise the problem.

Noticing something is wrong without the client saying so is the difference between a good social worker and an excellent one. It’s a skill that can rescue people from abusive relationships and save lives.



Every social worker needs to have patience in their repertoire.

Not every case is straight-forward, not every client is forthcoming, and it can take a long time to make progress with the client. Social workers need to have patience to get to the root cause of the client’s issues in order to really help them.

Becoming frustrated during a complicated case will only make matters worse. The ability to remain patient and resilient will help social workers find a suitable resolution to any problem.



No social worker should allow their opinions to affect the way they treat a client.

Our community consists of different cultures and beliefs, so a social worker must be respectful of all. They must be tolerant and show no bias based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religious/political views.

By remaining impartial, they’ll act professionally at all times and never allow opinion to cloud their judgement.



Generally, social work isn’t a 9-to-5 job — somebody could need help from social workers at any given moment.

A willingness to be flexible is required from anybody working in social care. After all, family crises don’t wait for office hours to resume.


Communication Skills

A social worker can have more difficult conversations in a day than most people have in a year.

Not only should they be excellent listeners—being able to read between the lines and offer support—they must also give effective and appropriate advice.

Social workers must be able to communicate clearly, keeping all parties on the same page and preventing conflicts from escalating.



Reliability is a vital quality for every worker across every industry, but paramount for social workers.

They attend regular meetings so must be able to manage their time to avoid lateness. During these meetings, social workers will take notes and reports, so need good organisation skills. These are legal and confidential documents, so the social worker must compile records safely and discretely.

Families count on social workers for support in times of need, so it’s crucial that the worker is reliable.


JGP connects you with high quality social workers.

It can be hard finding candidates with the qualities to succeed in social work. On top of that, 2021 is going to offer many challenges to employers in general — it’s a year that will reshape public sector recruitment.

Want to tap into the talent your organisation usually misses out on? Get in touch with our team of specialists for more information. JGP are public sector recruitment specialists that connect you with quality social workers.

2021 Survival Checklist for Public Sector Employers Free Download

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