There’s an unquenchable demand for social workers in the UK. They are the grease in the wheels of the many different systems that make up the welfare state: they don’t just work with children in difficult circumstances. They can work with recently released prisoners, the homeless, people struggling with addiction and the elderly. They help vulnerable or struggling people build a routine that helps them establish a sustainable life whether that’s ensuring they’re remaining on a medication regime, attending work every day or making appointments with doctors, therapists or job centres, and also connecting them with other services when necessary, like getting them into mental health help if they reach a crisis point.
As well as serving a vital social function, Social Work comes with a rewarding career: with so many different areas of specialism you can effectively define your own career, and each comes with clear progression, from early days of inexperience to and endgame of either management, research and policy setting or fieldwork, depending on your interests.
But how do you catch the attention of social work agencies and get recruited? That’s the question we’re tackling today, to help young social workers coming out of training towards their first jobs!
Angling for the right job isn’t a task that should start after graduation! Your studies come with a strong practical component, and this is where you can start. If you have a strong interest in a particular area (be that ‘area’ meaning a focus or specialism like children, or ‘area’ meaning inner city Liverpool, or the Sussex countryside), make it known and try to get your practical experience in it!
This means that when you come to graduate, you’ve already started building a relationship with different services you want to work for (and identified the ones you don’t want to work for into the bargain!). Even if your favourites can’t employ you directly when you graduate, it does mean you’ve built a ready-made network to pass on opportunities and speak up for you when you need it!
If you can’t find permanent work with an institution or team right away – whether there is simply none available or you don’t want to commit in the long term to an area that you know isn’t your focus – there is a lot of work available through social work recruitment and temping agencies: this allows you to find temporary work that still uses your skills and connects you with potentially valuable contacts without tying you down to a job for months or years.