For individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of others, social work is a highly rewarding profession. It is full of challenges and often involves a lot of hard work, but for those willing to make the effort it offers a chance to engage directly with people who are looking for help and to make things better for whole communities.
Further information for social work candidates.
There are many different kinds of social work jobs available, so anyone seeking work in the sector should think carefully about which areas appeal to them and look at how they can focus their job applications accordingly. For a specific application it is important to have a thorough understanding of what the hiring organisation wants.
This often requires research into the background and practices of the organisation itself, rather than just the job description. This is one reason why it is so important to make each job application unique. Employers have little patience for ‘cut and paste’ type applications, which are easy to spot. What they really want to see is genuine interest and they expect applications to directly address the criteria prioritised in their advertisements.
The application process for social worker jobs.
Applying for a social work job requires a strong CV and a covering letter that illustrates how the training and experience mentioned has prepared the candidate for the next challenge. Candidates should express their practical ability, but also put across their enthusiasm for the work.
Perhaps the single most important point to remember when making an application is to follow the instructions given in the brief. Many people fail to read the job description thoroughly and when a large number of applications are received, theirs will often be discarded straight away. Of equal importance is proofreading the application to make sure spelling and grammar are correct.
Voluntary, as well as paid work experience can be mentioned in a social work application. Any voluntary activity in the community can help to get across a candidate’s commitment to helping others. It may also demonstrate a wider range of applicable skills.
Employers’ expectations from social work candidates.
Because social work is a profession in which people generally have to be responsible for their own scheduling and record keeping, employers look for well organised and thorough applications that show the same attention to detail. A good way to approach this is to split the covering letter into sections with short, bold headers. This makes it easier for busy employers to skim through and pick out the important points that really sell the applicant.
Navigating the application process.
When applying for social worker jobs it is important to plan how long each stage will take so that everything can be completed in good time. Most significantly, this means allowing time for research. Setting up a separate email account and website for professional use helps to create a good impression. Once the application goes in, candidates should ensure they are available to answer their phone during normal business hours. Being ready to answer in a professional manner and being prepared for a brief chat about the position can significantly increase the chances of being short-listed for interview.
An interview does not have to be all about reacting to difficult questions. Smart candidates are proactive; they set out with their own agenda and carefully interpret questions in ways that provide opportunities for them to promote themselves.
After an interview is concluded many candidates just sit and wait by the phone. Many assume they will not have been successful, which may be true in many cases and will do nothing. However, some interviewers need to be prompted about their decisions, so if a week has passed with no feedback it is perfectly acceptable to contact them to ask what is happening.
Often, when decisions are delayed, it is because the interviewer is torn between two candidates. In such cases a follow-up call can make all the difference. Even if it does not mean getting the job, it might encourage the employer to keep the caller’s name on file and prioritise that person when another opportunity arises. In some cases employers will even create new positions in order to bring impressive second-place candidates into their teams.