Just like many other professions, newly qualified workers have been experiencing a rise in demand over the past few years. Many students have graduated from their studies to encounter an increased pool of vacancies with a decreased number of candidates competing for them—which is wonderful news.
Still, you might have personally notched up a few failed interviews, even those you believe you are overqualified for. This could lead you to think that your lack of experience within the field somehow makes you an unsuitable candidate. All the more if your applications for support worker openings are not faring any better.
Still, it is possible to land a great job in social care and it is not up to luck. Here are 18 tips that can help you secure a position amidst the knockbacks.
- Do your homework about the organisations or councils you are interested in. Apart from knowing their vision and mission, you might want to check out their Ofsted reports too. Employers appreciate it when you research about them as it shows that you are eager and enthusiastic.
- Understand that interviews are often competency based. So, think about real-life scenarios during your voluntary or placement assignments that you could discuss about in detail. Use these examples in your answers but make sure that they are relevant to the questions asked.
- Do not be discouraged if you do not get hired. Instead, start listing down the things that HR representatives give you feedback about. Find out about application issues that you need to fix or change. This type of information is valuable for your career development.
- Use being newly qualified to your advantage. Sell yourself to your potential employer by illustrating how interested and keen you are. Show them that you really want to be given a chance to work for them even though you’re a rookie.
- Know about the current laws and legislations. It is almost guaranteed that you will be queried about these during your interviews. You should be able to find numerous reliable resources on the web including legislation.gov.uk which has a page dedicated to the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Act 2015.
- Learn how to multi-task effectively. Since you are applying as a social worker, you have to be prepared to work under pressure. Those who know how to juggle stressful situations and still ensure that quality service is delivered are scored better than other candidates.
- Make sure you are certified by local authorities. This means being signed up to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) update service as well as registered to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). It is also advised to have two written references from the individuals or groups that you’ve volunteered for.
- Read up on issues around adoption and fostering. While it is not expected that you know everything, it never hurts to have minimal knowledge about this topic even if you may not have any personal experience.
- Browse through your notes from the university or college. This is a tiresome task but you should remember that applying theory to practice is crucial. Get up to speed with regards to current and relevant research in areas such as physical abuse and human trafficking.
- Be able to communicate and cooperate with different individuals. As important as it might be to know how to work independently, you should also be capable of operating in a team environment. Greater things can be achieved with more people, after all.
- Make time for job hunting. This shouldn’t be something that you leave until the last minute. It takes a lot of effort so you should set aside time from your schedule just for it, even when you’re still busy planning your graduation party.
- Check where openings are advertised. You can find a number of social work jobs available on the 4 Social Work website so consider browsing through it every once in a while. You may register for their agency services too so you can have access to more opportunities.
- Participate in job fairs. Even if you may be unable to find direct employment there, you can still get useful information to push your career. Be sure to talk to the people around as you never know what they could teach you.
- Leave a good impression on others. Whether it is your first or nth time meeting someone, you should strive to put your best foot forward. However, that doesn’t mean you should pretend to be someone you are not as you don’t want to get caught with your mask slipping.
- Look into transferable skills from other areas of your life. You might not have everything that the job description has listed down. You may not have direct experience from relevant duties either. But, you might have expertise in something similar so you should figure out what these are.
- Fill up your forms right. There are already so many obstacles when pursuing the career you want that you shouldn’t let spelling mistakes add to them. A tiny typo could make or break your application so have a trustworthy friend or relative check your CV and cover letters.
- Be realistic about your prospects. Depending on your potential employer, placements, and pre-studies experience, you might not be able to get a good position right away. Construct a plan as to what you could do instead over the next two years. You may have to take more generic roles, such as family support worker, mental health practitioner, or care coordinator, for now.
- Find ways to equip yourself. Groups such as the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) have mentoring schemes and workshops that can give you an edge over the competition. It would be wise to sign up for them so you can better adjust to how the industry currently is.
It’s a great time to become a social worker though the process remains difficult for many. Profuse amounts of blood, sweat, and tears may have to be shed but it will be worth it—you can be sure of that! Rejoice in the fact that you can actually make a good change in the world, even a tiny one.