Home Online Job Search Guide for Mental Health Workers

Online Job Search Guide for Mental Health Workers

This guide was designed to help psychologists, social workers, counselors, and professionals in the mental health field successfully conduct a job search using online resources and tools. Keep reading to learn how to create a great CV or resume, build a network to support your job hunt, nail a video job interview, and find industry-specific resources to succeed.

Preparing Your CV or Resume

Often the first step of the job search is to update or create the document you’ll use to highlight or recap all your relevant professional and educational experience. Whether you prepare a CV or a resume for prospective employers depends a lot on the norms for your field of work. If a job opening doesn’t specify, try to ask people you know who work in the companies, organizations, or agencies you are applying for what hiring managers are likely to expect.

Understanding the Difference Between Cover Letters and CVs

Unlike a traditional resume, a CV can be described as a long and comprehensive resume that functions more like a portfolio. CVs are commonly used in positions or workplaces that are research-oriented—for example, job postings for psychologists may require a CV specifically, and academic jobs will almost certainly require one.

Unlike resumes and cover letters, CVs generally don’t have a page limit, although this might vary depending on the listing. While they should be as concise as possible, they can run for several pages, or even longer if the content justifies the length. They should contain an exhaustive but highly organized and compartmentalized chronicling of your qualifications, background, accomplishments, and history.

Resources for Crafting a Winning CV or Resume

A great CV should include—structured in sections from the top down—the following information:

  • Name, title, and contact information.
  • A detailed section outlining your education, starting with your undergraduate program.
  • A section dedicated to your experience, including teaching, research, and professional work.
  • A section outlining any grants or fellowships you’ve received.
  • A section detailing any presentations you’ve made or any publications that have published your work.
  • A section listing your membership in professional organizations or societies.
  • Professional, academic, and personal references.

The following resources can give you a much more complete picture of what goes into building the kind of CV that will land you an interview. It’s important to note that some sites offer conflicting advice. It’s up to you to analyze different tips and suggestions to determine which strategy is right for you:

If you encounter a job post that calls for a resume instead of a CV, these resources can help:

  • APA resume and CV guide: This is an APA guide on how to craft resumes from scratch, how to transform existing CVs into resumes, and how to make the finished product shine.
  • Resume Now psychology templates: This site offers templates for specialties like clinical psychologist, behavioral psychologist, and entry-level therapist. It also offers tutorials on how to make your resume stand out and what to include in each section.
  • Psychology Today resume guide for psychologists: Psychology Today’s tips describe how to use “the psychology of resumes” to your advantage when crafting a psychology resume.

Build a Network to Boost Your Job Search

Whether you’re a Ph.D. looking to advance your career or a recent graduate with an associate degree in psychology, you should leverage your existing academic and professional connections in your job search, including your professors, former professors, and fellow colleagues. Keeping those relationships current—and expanding your network through online platforms—can make all the difference in discovering upcoming or just-posted job opportunities, landing interviews, getting the inside scoop on organizations, and getting hired. Here’s a look at how to expand on that foundation, not just to help you in your current job search, but as a source of support for the entirety of your career.

Network on Industry-Relevant Social and Industry Sites

LinkedIn is a good place to start, but as a mental health professional, you have the benefit of accessing several different networking platforms that aren’t open to general job hunters. The Social Psychology Network, for example, maintains a massive list of industry-related professional profiles, a social media directory, and forums for networking specifically for mental health professionals. The American Psychological Association created a tutorial on how to get the most out of social networking and another primer on how psychologists can build strong professional networks in general.

If you are already part of a professional association, start by paying attention to the publications and discussion forums hosted by those associations to get or stay current with trends and topics.

Find and Follow Mental Health or Psychology Influencers on Social Media

Just like with fashion, food, and everything else, the field of psychology is home to influencers who have an outsized presence on social media. In reality, you’re unlikely to connect with these people whether you follow them or not, but they might be able to help your job search indirectly.

By finding and following influencers in the field, you can stay up to date with emerging trends and, more importantly, connect with other psychologists who follow the same influencers and add them to your job-hunting network.

AcademicInfluencer.com profiles some of the world’s top psychology influencers. You’ll notice that many of them are historically influential but irrelevant to a modern job search, like the long-dead Wilhelm Wundt and Sigmund Freud. To find current industry leaders who are worth following on Twitter and other social media platforms, click “advanced search” and filter by date for the current day.

Influence.co also provides a long list of psychology and mental health influencers who you should consider following, as does PsychCentral. Although you might never establish relationships with influencers directly, you could connect with other people who follow them, including prospective employers.

Join Industry Organizations and Societies

Dozens of professional groups, societies, and trade organizations exist to serve, educate, and advocate for psychologists, counselors, and social workers. Virtually all of them maintain forums or message boards that encourage networking between colleagues, employers, and job seekers. Several maintain their own job boards, and all of them provide valuable information and resources to job hunters in the field.

You’ll notice that these resources have been divided into three categories. That’s because psychology, counseling, and social work are three distinct fields of mental health. It’s important to note that many of these organizations can be helpful even to job hunters who don’t hold the degrees required to be a psychologist, counselor, or social worker. The networking opportunities, training and education offerings, news, information, and advocacy services they offer are valuable to students and mental health professionals of all education levels, including those with a bachelor’s or an associate degree.

Psychology

The American Psychological Association (APA) represents more than 120,000 consultants, clinicians, academics, researchers, and educators, making it the country’s premier psychology organization. The Social Psychology Network, however, maintains a list of links to roughly three dozen other organizations that represent specialists or specific demographics, like the Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race, the Association for Research in Personality, and the Association of Black Psychologists.

Counseling

The American Counseling Association (ACA) is to counseling what the APA is to psychology—the largest and most significant industry organization in its field. Also like the APA, however, this is by no means the only resource available. JobStars compiled a list of groups that allow you to target your networking efforts directly to your specialty. It includes groups like the American School Counselor Association, the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Social Work

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the world’s largest membership organization for professional social workers, but it, too, is by no means the only option for networking in the field. Organizations like the Association of Oncology Social Work, the National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW), and the National Rural Social Work Caucus are all good alternatives.

Whether you’re a psychologist, counselor, or social worker, start your networking journey by visiting and perhaps even joining your field’s most prominent organization (the APA, ACA, or NASW). From there, comb the lists of more specialized groups to find the ones that more directly match your specialty, background, and psychology career goals.

Job Search Boards

Beyond the above organizations, there are plenty of other resources to help you with your job search, including:

  • PsychologyJobs.com: One of the leading boards for mental health jobs, this platform stands out for its many filters that let you focus on specialties within the field, like school psychology jobs, forensic psychology jobs, counseling jobs, and social work jobs.
  • APA Careers Page: The APA’s job search resource also has helpful filters that let you search mental health jobs by work environment—like medical centers, correctional facilities, or schools—as well as by specialty and location. You can filter jobs by education, including at the bachelor’s level.
  • Social Psychology Network Job Posting Forum: This board, which serves as the Social Psychology Network’s job-search forum, is complemented by the site’s Online Psychology Career Center, which hosts a huge amount of relevant content, links, and information. Use this site if you’re interested in working in research and academia.
  • com: Not only does this site allow you to browse academic jobs at all levels of higher education, but it offers excellent search filters and career services like salary data, diversity resources, institutional profiles, and job search tips.
  • VA Mental Health Careers: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is a large and sprawling federal agency that employs a wide range of mental health professionals in an equally wide variety of environments. Anyone who wants to serve veterans should start their search here.
  • USAJOBS: Since this database is reserved for those seeking jobs with the government, there is some overlap with the VA’s site. Many job postings, however, are unique, including positions in the federal prison system, individual military branches, and federal agencies.
  • iHireMentalHealth: This site covers all mental health specialties and boasts more than 7,500 employers in its network and 1,120 new jobs added every day. Jobs are available starting at the bachelor’s degree level.
  • American Counseling Association: The ACA’s job board lists more than 1,700 open positions (as of May 2020) across all specialties in the field of counseling.
  • University Counseling Jobs: Formerly called Positions in Counseling Centers, this board is specifically for professionals pursuing careers as counselors at colleges and universities.
  • Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors: The AUCCCD job board is also for mental health professionals seeking work as university counselors and psychologists.

Tips for Turning a Virtual Interview into a Job Offer

Though a job search process that starts virtually doesn’t always culminate with virtual interviews, video job interviews are convenient and increasingly popular. It’s also a type of interview that many candidates may not have mastered. This section starts with a primer on the fundamentals of remote interviews that apply to everyone. Below that are some tips specifically for mental health professionals.

Focus on the Fundamentals

Before you sit down for what could be a career-changing few minutes of your life, brush up on the basics that apply to all virtual interviews.

  • Get to know your technology: First make sure you’re familiar with the software you’ll be using. Explore the platform, read a few tutorials, and adjust your settings so you don’t come off as unprepared and unprofessional, which you will if you’re learning as you go in real-time.
  • Create the scenery: Make sure the background image you show your interviewer appears as you want it to be seen. Get rid of clutter and pick a neutral background like a wall or a curtain that isn’t busy or distracting and that doesn’t show anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
  • Dress the part: It’s a real interview and virtual shouldn’t be confused with casual. Dress just as you would if you were meeting the interviewer in person.
  • Do a dry run: Call on a family member or friend to help you practice with a mock interview where they play the role of the interviewer.
  • Know who you’re talking to: Do some research on the organization and if possible, the person who will be interviewing you. Come prepared with basic information on the organization’s history and mission, as well as the tone, voice, and language used on its website.
  • Send a thank-you note: Just like an in-person interview, you should always follow up shortly after with a brief and sincere email. It should thank the interviewer for his or her time and reiterate your interest in joining their organization.

How to Present Yourself and Questions to Expect

There’s no one right way to behave or one set of questions to expect, but experts typically suggest focusing on highlighting why this specific organization should want to recruit you. Resist the urge to sell yourself on your accolades or accomplishments—that’s all on your resume—and instead, prove that you understand the organization and why you believe it would benefit from having you as an employee.

CareerProfiles created a guide for psychologists to help them understand what kinds of questions to expect. They include:

  • Why did you choose this career?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your strengths as a therapist?
  • How about things you’d like to improve upon?

The APA created an interview tips guide that covers what to say as well as what not to say at an interview.