So why is it so hard for our workers to get these roles? What support is being offered around the interview process?
I get a lot of messages from qualified social workers not being able to get a job once finishing their training. We are at a time where we need more workers and the demand is definitely there.
When applying for a job we know that it’s important that employers don’t solely focus on the experience that we’ve had. We don’t always get to choose which teams we want our placements in whilst we are studying.
What you need to do it use examples of the skills that you do have and incorporate them with the area that you want to work in. This will show the initiative that the interviewer will be looking for. Think about your passion;
Why do you want to do this? What do you want to achieve? Why you can do this!
I have previously written an article on skills and attributes of a Social Worker so have a read through just to remind you of the key skills.
You need to focus on the positives not the negatives when applying for a job. If you didn’t get that last role that’s okay try again, it wasn’t meant to be. I know that it can be disheartening but please keep trying. Interviews are good experience, I know they don’t feel like this but eventually you will hopefully understand this and learn the tools to help you along.
There are many suggestions and tips on-line for the interview process of a Social Work interview and what to look out for e.g. case examples and showing you are able to prioritise and make appropriate decisions. We are not expected to know everything but it’s important that we show we are willing to learn and improve on what we already know.
It is important that you use you CV and interview in the right way. Yes, you may not have worked with children and families before but utilise the skills you have and explain how this will help you in the role you are after.
Why will you be good at this? What have you learnt from that situation?
I’m sure I used why working in a sandwich shop helped me with my communication skills and challenging difficult customers in the right way. You could even talk about your time management skills, working as a team etc. the list is endless.
A list of common questions are;
Give an example of where you have seen anti-oppressive practice and or diversity?
Give a good example of working together?
Give an example of a good piece of work you have done with families/ adults?
Give an example of a piece of work where you could have done something differently?
and so on. Just make sure you’ve prepared for these as the starting point.
Another tip is RESEARCH
Preparation before your interview is key. Have a look at the Local Policies and Procedures, understand the dynamics of the teams, time-scales and how they all work. This is all available to the public on-line and it will help to show your interest and understanding. If there have been any recent case reviews, or reports written have a read through. Munro’s principles are so important in our day to day work so have a read just to refresh it all.
Do I need a car and driving licence?
I often read about people struggling to get a job as they don’t have a car or a licence. Now having a car is something that comes up quite regularly. If there is a reason why you can’t have a vehicle e.g. disability or impairment you should not be discriminated against this and they should be able to offer alternative methods for you. However, if this is not the reason there is an expectation that you have a driving licence and access to a vehicle for business purposes.
Sometimes, if you work in an area with really good transport links/ a bicycle etc. this can work however, this is limited. I have only met one worker before who did not have access to a car, he worked in Child Protection and this made his job even harder. There is already an expectation on us to be able to juggle a number of things in one go but we need to be able to get to places quickly in an emergency and also not forgetting about that valuable support we need to be able to offer to our colleagues when required.
They told me I lack experience/I had two years without work after qualifying
I have heard numerous people say this to me. Sometimes they’ve had a child or changes within their family or sometimes they just planned to have some time off before they want to start in their new career. This is okay. My advice is that it’s important you stay on top of things in the time you are off; attend trainings if possible, keep up with the news, know about the recent changes/ new approaches and so on. But, just don’t leave it for too long. It may require you to have some update training if this is an extended amount of time. Just be honest about why you had/needed this time off if you cam.
Once you have your experience as a qualified Social Worker it is much easier for you to have longer periods of time off.
If you could consider voluntary work this will be really beneficial to you. You could help at a local care centre, 1-1 work with vulnerable people, volunteer at a youth group/ a school there are many options available to you. This doesn’t have to be regularly for a long period of time it could be weekly for a few months. It just helps to evidence your skills and interest remain in this area.
How to keep up with the current Social Work roles?
Try and regularly look at the Local Authorities website that you are hoping to apply for. They will update this and help you to understand the types of roles that are out there. If you do not have a preference what Authority/ Organisation that you want to go too you can also look at a number of other website which cover certain regions which will help to broaden your search.
Alternatively, you could sign up for some on the Social Work agencies that help to advertise for permanent roles. I am happy to support you with this.
Even if you are an experienced Social Worker or a Newly Qualified Social Worker if you find that after doing these things that you are still struggling I would really like to hear from you. I will try my best to offer some support to you through this process.