Are you a compassionate, considerate and inquisitive person who wants nothing more than to help people overcome some of life’s biggest challenges
? If so, you might have wondered what it would be like to work in the community services
sector. This growing field of interest encompasses everything from mental health
and disability support
to assisting the elderly
and reaching out to young people
and helping them discover their true potential.
It takes a special type of person to work in community services, and in this article, SkillsTalk will cover 7 essential personality traits required to work in this challenging, yet highly rewarding field.
7 key personality traits of a community services worker
- Compassion and empathy.
1. Compassion and empathy.
Empathy is an important quality to have when dealing with other people. Empathy involves putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
, sharing their feelings
and making an effort to understand their perspective
. A community services worker
requires a high degree of empathy and compassion, because you are likely to encounter vulnerable individuals who may be going through some of the most challenging periods of their lives.
As a community services worker, it’s important that you can relate to the people you are helping and offer advice that is free from judgement. Being able to communicate this way is essential, since many clients will be coming to you for help with issues they haven’t been able to deal with on their own.
While empathy is an incredibly important trait for community services workers, so is the ability to remain objective. Your clients will rely on you for advice, support and guidance but you will still need to follow legal and ethical guidelines
to ensure the safety of your clients, their family and yourself. This can be challenging since the issues you are dealing with are likely to be highly emotionally charged, however your personal feelings should not get in the way of your ability to make informed decisions.
Establishing boundaries is important in any work environment, but this is especially the case for those working in community services. Due to the highly personal and confidential nature of your work, you must be able to implement boundaries
to avoid becoming too close with your patients or revealing too much information about yourself.
You also want to avoid disclosing personal information about your clients to others, including your family and friends. If you’re a highly empathetic person, it can be difficult to disengage from your clients while still meeting their needs, but this is a skill you can develop
over time and through experience.
A desire to help others is noble, but many people who desperately need help may not want or appreciate it when it comes. This can be frustrating, which is why patience is an essential quality for anyone working in community services.
You may be dealing with emotional volatility in clients
who refuse treatments or don’t follow your advice. Many community service workers find that although they may not be able to help everyone, those they do help transform their lives for the better and make all the hard work worth it.
Whether you’re working with those with physical or mental disabilities, youth or the elderly, you are likely to come face-to-face with the world’s injustices. It requires a tremendous amount of resilience to help people who have experienced or are experiencing hard times
or those who simply aren’t able to care for themselves the way they used to. The ability to be strong for others is not only admirable, but essential for your wellbeing as a community services worker.
Community service workers typically work with a number of clients simultaneously across multiple locations, so it is very important to stay organised. You’ll need to keep track of your client’s needs and challenges and make sure you’re familiar with all the details concerning their case files and other pertinent information. This means keeping files systemised, filling in paperwork on time and taking notes where necessary. If staying organised comes naturally to you, then you won’t have any problem handling all the duties of a community services worker.
Community services workers do not typically work within a 9-5 timeframe. Your work hours will depend on who your clients are and the type of work you do, but if you prefer a more flexible working environment
, this may not be an issue for you. To thrive as a community services worker, you must be flexible
and comfortable being available on-call or doing shift work.
Does this sound like you?
If you think you have what it takes to be a community services worker, the first step is to choose an area of interest or specialisation. Community services workers work in a variety of areas including counselling
, youth work
and more. Upskilled offers a range of flexible online courses in community services
so you can start your career off on the right track.
Emilly Parris is a writer, journalist and content specialist with several years' experience in digital marketing. She covers topics in e-learning, career development and the social sector and is passionate about online education.