If you’ve just finished your masters in social work online and you are about to embark on one of many fantastic careers in social work, you may be thinking about what to wear for your first days at work. Social workers often work with the more vulnerable members of society, offering help, support, and empathy to those that need it the most in a variety of different settings and capacities. As a social worker, you want to look professional and sensible, while also maintaining an approachable air. Finding this balance between professional and friendly can be tricky, especially when you are starting out. So here are some tips to help you dress for success while also making sure your clients feel comfortable around you.
Keeping it Natural
The key to looking both approachable and professional is keeping things natural. It’s fine to wear a little makeup and some jewelry but don’t get carried away. Lots of makeup can sometimes make it hard for clients to feel like they can get to know you. It almost puts a barrier between you, like you are literally wearing a mask.
Show Your Personality
Wear clothes you like and that suit your style. Depending on your fashion sense and taste, you may need to tone things down slightly, but that doesn’t mean you must wear things you don’t like. A big part of being a social worker, as you will have learned during your MSW online is being yourself. So, dress like you. Add a splash of color or a bright scarf to your outfits.
While you may have days where you need to be in multiple locations, you usually know in advance where you need to be, especially when it comes to court dates and important meetings. So, have specific outfits planned. If you need to go to a client’s house before court, add a jumper or scarf to tone things down.
When you are dealing with venerable clients, especially children, and young people, it’s exceptionally important that you don’t look like an authority figure. You need to be someone that they can trust and confide in. Keep things smart, so no super short skirts or low cut tops, but remain casual. You can always keep a smart jacket in the car for when you need it.
Think of Comfort
Your days will often be long, stressful, and include a lot of traveling. So, you need to be comfortable. Comfortable shoes are a must, as is a large bag to keep files and a bottle of water in. But, your clothes should also be comfortable. Light layers are a great idea, especially in winter, so that you can add and remove as you need to.
When you work in a field such as this, where there is no uniform and you could easily visit a courtroom, a client’s home, and a hospital on the same day, it can be hard to get your style right. Hopefully, these tips will help you to feel comfortable and become a great social worker.