In this article, we’ll explore how to write a CV or resume for a counseling position. We’ll provide clear, easy-to-follow steps and include real-world examples. This guide is aimed at helping counselors at any stage of their career to present their skills and experience effectively. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to advance your career, you’ll find practical advice to create a CV or resume that stands out to employers.
- 1 Read The Job Description / Advert
- 2 Research The Company
- 3 Find A Good CV Template
- 4 Write 2 Or 3 Bullet Points As A ‘Professional Summary’
- 5 Detail Your Employment History
- 6 Detail Your Education History
- 7 CV Structure
- 8 WHAT NOT TO DO
- 9 Counselor CV Tips – Recap
- 10 Counselor CV Sample
Read The Job Description / Advert
The first step is, of course, to read the job description. We need to know what the firm is looking for so that we can properly highlight these characteristics in our CV. So read back over the job description and try to pinpoint the important points. A lot of times a firm will call things “required”; if you see this, you need to make sure you include that in your CV. Similarly, if certain things are repeated throughout the advert, this indicates they are of high importance, so we will want to make sure our CV shows that as well.
When performing this analysis, take care to copy the ‘exact’ words and phrases that are being used by the hiring manager. We will want to pepper these into our CV later.
Counselor Job Description Example
Counselor Position Available
We are seeking a dedicated and compassionate Counselor to join our dynamic team. This role is ideal for someone who is deeply committed to helping individuals navigate their personal and emotional challenges. The successful candidate will provide counseling services in a supportive and confidential environment.
- Conduct one-on-one counseling sessions to assess clients’ mental health needs and develop personalized treatment plans.
- Facilitate group therapy sessions to provide support and guidance in a collaborative setting.
- Implement evidence-based counseling techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and mindfulness practices.
- Maintain detailed and confidential client records, ensuring compliance with ethical guidelines and privacy laws.
- Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to provide holistic care to clients.
- Stay updated with the latest developments in counseling practices and participate in professional development opportunities.
- Provide crisis intervention and support as needed.
- A Master’s degree in Counseling, Psychology, Social Work, or a related field.
- State licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or equivalent.
- Proven experience in counseling, with a strong understanding of various therapy modalities.
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to build rapport with clients from diverse backgrounds.
- Strong organizational and record-keeping skills.
- A compassionate and empathetic approach, with a commitment to providing confidential and ethical care.
We offer a supportive work environment, opportunities for professional growth, and a chance to make a meaningful impact in the lives of our clients. This position provides a competitive compensation package, commensurate with experience and qualifications.
Join us in our mission to provide exceptional care and support to those seeking mental health services. If you are passionate about counseling and dedicated to making a difference, we would love to hear from you.
Research The Company
Time to put on your detective hat and do some research on your target company. Look at their website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. You are looking for any piece of intel that will give you the leg up.
- Find out about recent work/projects they have undertaken or will be embarking on (highlight your experience in these areas on your CV)
- Find out what software/processes they use and make sure you include your proficiency in them in your CV
- Learn what interview questions you might expect should you make it that far
See if you know anyone who works there and/or connect (LinkedIn) with people ahead of the interview. A little nepotism could never hurt, and you might be able to glean more information about the role/hiring process in the meantime.
Find A Good CV Template
When selecting a CV template, it’s essential to opt for a simple design and structure. Not only are straightforward layouts more compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), but they also make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to quickly identify and understand key details. A clutter-free and organized CV ensures that your most important information stands out, facilitating a smoother review process for potential employers.
Write 2 Or 3 Bullet Points As A ‘Professional Summary’
A handy approach is to craft three sentences: the first highlighting your qualifications and experience, the second showcasing your biggest professional achievement, and the third detailing your most recent experience.
Counselor Professional Summary Example
- With over 10 years of experience in the counseling field, holding a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and fully licensed as a Professional Counselor. Expert in applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, and mindfulness techniques, specializing in adolescent and family counseling.
- Proudly led a school-based mental health program that successfully reduced student behavioral issues by 30% within one academic year, utilizing a blend of individual and group therapy sessions along with the implementation of a peer support system.
- Recently focused on integrating digital mental health tools, including the use of teletherapy platforms like Theraplatform, to enhance accessibility for remote clients, resulting in a 40% increase in client engagement over the past year.
Detail Your Employment History
Begin by listing your employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. This allows potential employers to see your recent experience upfront, which holds greater value. Keep in mind that brevity is key.
As you go further back in time, reduce the level of detail to ensure your CV doesn’t exceed two pages. Employers are less likely to read lengthy CVs.
When writing about your responsibilities on your CV, focus on how you’ve made a difference in your role as a Counselor. For example, instead of just saying “Provided counseling to high school students,” you could say “Effectively supported over 200 high school students through individual and group counseling, leading to a 40% improvement in overall student well-being and a reduction in school absences.” This way, you’re not only stating your responsibility but also showing the positive impact you’ve had, like improving student well-being and attendance.
Detail Your Education History
Keep your CV concise, aiming for a two-page limit. The education section can often be streamlined.
Highlight the most relevant qualifications. For instance, if you have a degree, your A-levels become less significant. Similarly, if you’re in the U.S., having an MBA overshadows your high school GPA.
Unless an older educational milestone is crucial for the job or highly pertinent, focus on showcasing your Bachelor’s degree, post-graduate studies, or professional certifications. If you lack these, mention your latest qualifications. Remember, having a Master’s suggests you’ve finished school, so no need to state the obvious. Only include your educational background if it’s pertinent to the job.
Tactically structure your CV to the ‘most wanted’ attributes of the job description. For example, if the job description values “qualified”, then place your qualifications first; if they want someone with RECENT experience, put your last job up top. If they want multiple years of experience, highlight your tenure.
We always recommend that you have a Professional Summary up top (after your name/contact info), as it will be the first thing that anyone reads. As discussed earlier, this should be tailored towards the job advert and showcase your experience and skills in what the employer is looking for.
A fairly typical structure would go:
- Name and contact info
- Professional Summary
- Current (or most recent employment)
- Education & Professional Qualifications
- Employment History
WHAT NOT TO DO
Now that we’ve discussed what you should be including in your CV, let’s look at some things that you should avoid doing.
- Do not include personal history or likes. Employers are not going to care about your hobbies, so unless you have some inside information that the hiring manager only hires people who play a particular sport, for example, then leave your extracurricular activities off your CV. This does not extend to things like volunteer or charity work. Definitely include that if you have the space.
- Do not list your skillset and the tools/applications you have experience with. It takes up valuable space and is often obvious (Skilled in Excel…?). Instead, include these in your achievements section (Example: “Used Asana to manage and coordinate tasks for a remote team of 25 members”).
- Do not include references or “references available on request”. If employers want a reference, they will ask you for them; otherwise, this is just wasted space on your CV.
- Do not include a photo of yourself unless specifically asked. In many countries, including the UK and US, you should not include a photo of yourself on your CV/resume. Companies don’t want you to do it, as it opens them up to liability, and there is absolutely nothing for you to gain by doing so – plus, you are making it easier for firms to discriminate against you, either implicitly or explicitly.
- Do not use any fancy graphic or artistic CV format. Most CVs come in a standard format, allowing Application Tracking Software, recruiters and hiring managers to easily pick out the key pieces of information they need quickly based on their experience. If you throw them a CV in an artistic format, they are more likely to get annoyed and throw your application away. This is not a situation where standing out is good. You want your skills/experience to be noted, not your CV format.
- Do not include your previous salaries. This will severely impact your negotiation abilities down the line.
Counselor CV Tips – Recap
Let’s recap what we’ve discussed so far:
Understand the Role
🔍 Know the specifics of the counseling role you’re applying for. Tailor your CV to highlight relevant skills and experiences.
Highlight Qualifications and Certifications
🎓 Include your degrees, licenses (e.g., LPC, LCSW), and any relevant certifications. These are crucial in the counseling field.
Showcase Your Experience
🌟 Detail your professional experience with emphasis on specific counseling techniques you’ve used and the types of clients you’ve worked with.
📈 Use numbers and statistics to demonstrate the impact of your work, like “Improved patient coping strategies by 30%.”
Reflect Soft Skills
💬 Mention key counselor qualities like empathy, communication, and problem-solving.
📚 Include any additional training or workshops you’ve attended that are relevant to counseling.
Use Simple, Clear Language
📝 Avoid jargon and complex terms. Make your CV easy to read and understand.
Proofread and Format Neatly
✅ Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Use a clean, professional layout.
Counselor CV Sample
Below is an example CV from someone with a number of years experience in the field. For an editable .DOCX version, click here.